Of self love

Of self-love -a much hyped concept in the last decade. This notion emerged at a time when christian religious institutions in general still taught that love for self is sinful, all the while espousing the virtues of extending love to others instead, effectively turning the other cheek. Needless to say, with that narrow description of the concept, self-love became a bandwagon I just didn’t want to get on. Fast forward to my self-discovery journey and I am a believer.

Scriptures tell us to love the neighbor as we love ourselves. But like I’ve pointed out before, the foregone conclusion that we all love ourselves is problematic in that we then build on a false premise. I don’t know many people that don’t have trouble with loving themselves; it’s an epidemic! So much such that when we meet someone like Kanye (yes, I’m fascinated by him and others like him), it makes headline news!

Just the other day, I was watching Netflix’s Zac Posen documentary ‘The House of Z’ and was amazed that it appears the fashion industry elected to ‘ghost’ him primarily because he came across as cocky and arrogant thus needed some humbling and knocking down a few notches; the poor soul had to build back up from scratch after ‘humbling’ himself!

As this movement gains momentum, self-love has become less of a dirty word and even churches are now preaching it; it’s about time too. No good can come out of self-loathing. It’s crippling to the soul and distorts the mind. We are all beautiful and worthy of love, especially from the self. We must love ourselves for others to love us, for loving someone that doesn’t believe they are worthy of love is a pointless endeavor,  as exercise in futility.

My own self-love journey is relatively new, having embarked on it just this past spring. It was on a trip with my son in Spain to visit my sister Christina and Joe when the notion dawned on me. We visited the Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante and I had climbed up a ledge for a better view of the sprawling city below.

Sitting there quietly with the gently breeze caressing my face, I felt a deep sense of peace, and in that moment, I understood what self-love felt like. There was total acceptance. There was only the ‘now’, nothing else mattered, only the moment -total surrender.

The dictionary defines self-love as having ‘regard for one’s own well-being and happiness’. In that instant, I felt all was well with my soul. I felt joy. Peace. Quietness. This verse which I’ve had taped to my bedroom door for the better part of my adult life came into sharp focus: He will quiet you with his love (Zep 3:17).

Contrary to what I’d believed earlier, self-love isn’t egoistical. It doesn’t negate altruism. I understand it in the sense that I first have to learn to love myself before I can hope to love my neighbor. I embrace it because I understand the futility of expecting an external source to pour love into us; it cannot be done as self-love is an inside job. I practice it because I understand one cannot pour from an empty pitcher.

In silent reflection, I am learning the joys of my imperfections; the kindness of not judging myself too harshly when I fall short, the constant reminder to be gently with myself. It’s only when I can give all these things to myself that I can then extend the same considerations to my neighbour. What’s your self-love story? Walk with me on this journey and please do share your experience in the comment section below.

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