I talk about love a lot with people. How to love a spouse. Loving well as a parent. How to love someone who’s hard to love. Love can be a difficult thing to master- especially when you read I Corinthians 13!
I also talk to many of my clients about what it means to love yourself. As a Christ follower, many struggle with this concept due to it feeling selfish and prideful. Yes, of course, “self-love” can be a huge problem for people when it’s taken too far and with the wrong heart. But that doesn’t mean that the opposite it healthy and that you should be self-loathing.
Shame blocks us from understanding we are lovable
A MAJOR issue I work with is people who struggle with understanding how to love yourself and that it’s even possible. They don’t understand that BECAUSE of God’s love, they are actually lovable. When people struggle with toxic shame thinking, it tells them that they aren’t good enough and at the core are undeserving of love because of their sin and failures. I believe shame is one of the enemy’s most intense attacks.
When under the influence of shame based thinking, people have trouble seeing and loving themselves the way God sees them. They struggle to fully embrace the concept of grace- that God freely gives love. Not because you are deserving, but because He chooses to. Grace is one of the greatest ways to defeat shame.
Loving yourself the way Jesus loves you is not easy if you don’t fully understand how Jesus loves you.
Here’s some great quotes and verses that will hopefully help you grasp that you can love yourself in a healthy way because of God’s love for you:
- The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.- C.S. Lewis
- Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
- God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’- Billy Graham
- Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us. – Tullian Tchividjian
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- 1 John 3:1a See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
- Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?– Philip Yancey
- Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me. You have been so, so good to me. When I felt no worth, you paid it all for me. You have been so, so kind to me. Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
The examples of God’s love are endless in Scripture, from music, Bible scholars, and from Christ followers. If you struggle with grasping the reality of God’s love for you, I hope you have a Christ follower you trust who can guide you to better understand it. Pursuing a better understanding of this is a life-long journey that opens your eyes to a whole new understanding of who you are according to your Creator.
What makes it hard for you to love yourself?