By Sophia Christiaan
Loving yourself doesn’t just mean pampering your body and having a good self-esteem. Loving yourself goes much deeper, and is many times put to the test when we have to make decisions. The choices we make in those seconds of decision making, really give us a good idea of how much we love ourselves. We encounter these choices often in relationships and communication.
If we are full of pride and don’t have much love in us, we tend to make decisions that hurt us, rather than help us. For example, if we refuse to admit our faults and shortcomings, being stubborn, prideful, and hard-headed, we actually try to run from something that will inevitably catch up on us. None of us can run from our characters, and whenever we try to do so, our flaws will expose themselves inconveniently.
In that moment of the truth of our hearts coming to the surface in our lives, we make a decision to face it or hide from it. If we truly knew how much God loves us and cares for every detail in our lives, we would never hide in shame and condemnation, lying to ourselves about our condition, but be free to expose ourselves to God’s gentle and loving correction.
“If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” Proverbs 15:32:2 NLT
When we start accepting God’s correction, we also start learning to love ourselves. Those two things go hand in hand, and the Bible says that God loves everybody and want us to come to the realization of who He is. (See 1. Timothy 2:3-4)
When we have knowledge about who God is, we are also able to understand who we are ourselves. We are made in the image of God, and He knows better than anyone how we feel, and how we ought to feel about ourselves.
“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
God’s thinking is far above ours. In other words, He sees a picture of the world that we don’t see; He sees our lives in a light we don’t see. Do we dare to believe that God is really interested in us, like no one else can be, and that He has a plan for our lives that is far beyond what we can comprehend?
These scriptures indicate how God feels about us:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” Jeremiah 1:5 NLT
“The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” Isaiah 49:1 NLT
When we understand that God sees us as perfect, through Jesus Christ, being too hard on ourselves seems foolish, and we realize that we may need to forgive ourselves more than we do. After all, if God has forgiven us from all past, present, and future sins, why do we hold on so tightly to our mistakes?
If we truly know who we are in Christ, which means, “who we are the way God sees us,” then we can start coming to a place of peace with ourselves, knowing that we are not perfect and make mistakes, but that we are loved in spite of it.
Many times, the pressure we put on ourselves to perform, works against our ability to perform. Let me explain: The Bible says, when we are weak, we are strong (2. Corinthians 12:10). It also says; He became poor so we can become rich (2. Corinthians 8:9). Because it seems like contradictions to our natural mindsets, we have a hard time grasping how to live entirely dependent upon God’s guidance, leading, and provision for our lives. Without knowing it, we take that part upon ourselves, and hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit.
The flow of the Holy Spirit will bring us everything we need. The Bible says, why worry, when God clothes even the lily of the valley? (Mathew 6:28). It also says, if we seek the Kingdom of God first, He will add everything to us. (Mathew 6:33)
Learning to “let go, and let God” is a life-long journey. But understanding that God wants to be everything for us, makes us able to make the right decisions, because we are trusting that God has our best interest at heart, and that He constantly seeks to provide, comfort, lead, and support us in all aspects of life.
Therefore, knowing God leads to loving ourselves.
When it comes to relationships, it is easy to go wrong when we are not totally sure what we need and should look and ask for in a mate. Those who have been abused mentally, sexually, verbally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, have literally been overpowered by someone else’s spirit, soul, and body. Their borders have been crossed, and another spirit has taken control over certain aspects of their lives. They feel disillusioned, insecure, untrusting, skeptical, hurting, angry, bitter, confused, and violated, and they have many times lost the ability to truly think for themselves. It is as if they are sharing body and mind with someone else, and cannot truly rest, or trust themselves. This causes them to doubt whether they are ever going to be able to truly heal and be restored, and fall into mental loopholes of despair, depression, and overwhelming hopelessness.
Can they be restored? The answer is yes. Jesus Christ is our Great Healer, Comforter, and works in our lives every moment of the day to make us more like him. We only have to ask ourselves if we are allowing any hurt from the past to come between us and the future God has for us.
Loving ourselves means that we are willing to open our hearts to look at whatever is inside, so we can truly respond to God’s healing power, and become wholesome beings, able to reach out in love to others. Being able to love others is part of loving ourselves.
Generational curses also keep us from walking in victory in the area of relationships. Often we are unaware of which generational curses are in effect in our lives, that cause us to seek that which is familiar to us, and end up in relationships that don’t fit us, and ultimately will hurt us.
If for example, a woman’s father is an alcoholic, she ends up marrying a man who is an alcoholic too. That is a generational curse because she ends up sharing destiny similar as her mother. We get into relationships based on choices we have not consciously made, because we are unaware of our spiritual inheritance. The solution is to break those curses in the Name of Jesus Christ, so we can be free to see what we really need, and what we need to avoid.
The Bible says our hearts can be deceptive, and this is because we are able to feel good about something that is not good for us at all, because of our perception of things. We need God to be able to change our lives, and break away from the path of the generational curses. This is why we need to say yes to a life with Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior to be able to accomplish the destiny and purpose that was laid out for us since the beginning of time.
Accepting God’s path of redemption, means breaking the plans of bondage the Devil planned for us. Before we came to know Jesus and His destiny for our lives, we were living in a downward pulling spiral that was meant for the destruction of our soul.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The first church lived in harmony and their sharing and loving fellowship was their testimony to the world that they were the children of God. Everyone could see their care for each other and by doing so, they were an example of God’s love for people, and how we were meant to treat each other. See Acts 2:44-47.
The world has become a cold and lonely place with people striving for their own survival. God never meant for us to live selfishly, grabbing what we can get, and only caring for ourselves and those we love. The Bible says if we only love our brother what special is that, even the unbelievers love their brothers (Mathew 5:46). When we love our neighbors by being kind to them it shows that we have embraced ourselves. If we love others we love ourselves.
Loving ourselves, also means to love our physical bodies, and accepting the way we look for better and worse. In our society of extreme vanity and impossible idealisms, it is even harder to be content and not strive for better looks. Being obsessed with thoughts of how to change ourselves to improve our appearance means we are not taking time to consider how beautiful a creation we are. God created us in all His creativity, not for us to reject His creation, but to embrace it, love it, protect it, and most of all, be thankful for the life He has given us.
Now a days it is easy accessible to enhance and change our appearance through various means. Although God doesn’t condemn us, we should take a moment to consider “why” we feel the need to do changes, and what might cause the desire to do so.
If our drive comes from deep wounds or from other people’s opinions about us, we should take time to consider those issues, and deal with our inner person before we deal with our outer person. All of the physical splendor in the world cannot make an unhappy heart joyful, neither can it change our character, or produce life.
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.” 1. Peter 3:3-5 NLT
Let us define beauty more as a matter of character above appearance. Having a humble and mild spirit makes people beautiful. True beauty comes from resting in God’s peace and the self security He gives.
Copyright©2007 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan