“I don’t want them to love me!” Twenty-plus years ago when my husband and I were preparing for our upcoming wedding, those were words that we heard from my uncle, the priest who married us. Of course, there was a bit more to it than that.
We were discussing Jesus’ command to love God above all things AND to love your neighbor as yourself. It was the second part of that command that prompted my uncle’s strange comment. “I’ve seen how some people feel about themselves. And if that’s the way they ‘love’ themselves, I don’t want them to love me!”
He was right, of course. There are some people who are so at war with themselves that they can’t offer anyone else love. All they have is a shadow of love, a facsimile of what they should have for themselves.
But, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Isn’t self-love full of pride? Well, yes and no. Real humility isn’t just knowing what’s wrong with us and where we fall short. REAL humility is knowing both the good and the bad about ourselves and being at peace with it. True humility is the kind of self-love that Jesus spoke of.
What about pride? Yes, acknowledging and embracing our gifts can be a slippery slope leading us into the pit of pride. According to the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, pride is “undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.” But humble self-love is not misplaced and doesn’t seek attention or honor. It definitely doesn’t set us in competition with God.
The reality is this–we are God’s creation. It’s only right that we should embrace the beauty and wonder of our creation all while accepting that we are imperfect and that our goodness is due to God’s grace rather than the work of our hands.
If you’re feeling less than loving toward yourself, I urge you to meditate on Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”
We are created in the image of the all-good, all-loving, all-merciful, all-powerful God. And as trite or as saccharine as it may sound–He loves you!
God, who knows you better than you know yourself, loves you despite your shortcomings, imperfections, and even despite your sinfulness. He doesn’t love you because you’re perfect. (We all know that’s not gonna happen, right?) He loves you because you’re YOU.
That’s the best celebrity endorsement you could ever get!
I know it’s not easy to love the ugly parts of ourselves. And, we shouldn’t be content to let the ugly parts stay ugly. But we should love ourselves enough to know that we have value and are precious in His eyes.
What about you? How do you feel about yourself? Do you love yourself in a way that your neighbor would want to be loved?
Copyright 2016 Laura B Nelson