Self-love is usually taken in a negative sense, such as being conceited or self-centered; but that is not the meaning behind Christian self-love. When I think of self-love, I think of being thankful for, and appreciating the person God has created each of us to be. Completely loving yourself is not going to happen overnight; it is something that you have to work on over and over again.
About a couple of years ago, I realized just how important it is to have a relationship with oneself. It was the end of my sophomore year of college and I went home for one of the most difficult, yet growing, summers I have had. This was my first summer in my new town because my family had just moved away. With that being said, I didn’t know anyone. Seriously, no one. I tried to keep myself busy by taking two classes, working two jobs, and searching for a new church to attend. That summer was extremely difficult for me because I wasn’t close to my high school friends anymore; I had a few friends from college, and I didn’t have any friends in my new town. For the longest time, I surrounded myself with people to make myself feel full. This was the first time that I really felt alone and had no other human being to turn to. It was in the most difficult time that I learned I had to lean not only on the Lord, but also myself.
I used this time of loneliness as an opportunity to grow in my relationship with the Lord and also myself. I spent a lot of time journaling, reading, and learning more about the person God has intended me to be. God knows our hearts the best, so why not listen to what He has to say? Looking back, I am thankful for moments like that because it made me stronger by being open-minded during difficult times.
The truth is you have to take care of yourself before you take care of other people. It’s not selfish, it’s wisdom. If you don’t love yourself, you simply can’t love anyone else. This is because you can’t give what you don’t have. Do you love yourself? Do you value yourself? Do you spend time with yourself? These are all crucial questions to ask yourself, because if you can’t answer “yes” to these, a time for self-reflection is needed. I feel like this has been a struggle for me for so long. I cared so much for other people, but I didn’t care enough for myself. Matthew 22:37-39 says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Did you get that? Love your neighbor as yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t fully love other people. If you don’t respect yourself, you won’t respect other people.
It is completely acceptable to take time for yourself with Jesus and work on that relationship, because it’s the longest relationship you are going to have. In times of loneliness, take care of yourself, treat yourself, and be your biggest supporter.
The apostle Paul wrote a prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 which expresses where true confidence and the ability to love come from: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
We must believe in God’s deep love for us because it is sufficient, as He has promised. It is not until we fully believe in this that we can further grow in love and authentic intimacy. Learn how to love yourself because there is only one of you and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
Lauren is a college student studying Pre-Med while playing volleyball whose dream is to become a Physician’s Assistant. For more about love and the other fruit of the Spirit, you may enjoy our Galatians 5: Fruit of the Spirit study. You can also listen to our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio.