Are You That Way with Yourself?
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these" (Mk. 12:29-31, NLT).
If we consider what our lives were like back in February of 2020, without a doubt, many things have changed. They certainly have changed for me. What have we learned from these changes? I believe this is an important self-reflection.
I’ve been forced to stop and really take a good look at my relationship with myself. Not with my friends, not with my husband, not with my children, but with myself.
Our busy routines: ministry and church activities, work obligations, after school sports and recreational time; everything changed in our family. In a way, busyness was taken away. What was left? A lot of emotions. And I was compelled to deal with them. I ignored and shoved them under the doormat for many years. I was busy. I mean really, who had time for self-reflection?
Our wise and loving God used this time to speak to my life. While being quarantined at home, I realized I needed to talk to someone. The Lord provided a professional counselor, and I started counseling sessions via Zoom. At first, all I could think of was anxiety and depression in their initial stages. But, this counselor was able to see something different. She asked me what I expected or desired in a “friendship.” I listed values such as trust, compassion, being non-judgmental, sharing words of affirmation, spending quality time together, availability, a desire to have fun together, and so forth. “Are you that way with yourself?” she asked. Those were some of the hardest words I’ve ever heard. The answer was, sadly, a piercing “no!” I realized that for the longest time, I had been my worst enemy.
Many times, and through different ways, God has told me how much He loves me. But I was struck with the realization that if I did not love myself, how could I expect anyone else to do it? If I had not forgiven myself for past decisions, how could someone else? If I was so hard on myself, how could I truly understand this all loving and all forgiving Father?
In the relationship I had with my “earthly” father I felt like I had to gain his love, prove that I was “worth loving,” and that I was worth spending time with. It felt like I had to beg for scrapes of his time. My Heavenly Father, however, says He wants to spend all His time with me. Why? I didn’t want to spend time with myself. All these felt like foreign concepts to me. Yes, I’ve heard them so many times. God loves me. God forgives me. God wants to spend time with me. But I did not believe them or felt that I deserved that.
Now I am trying to see the woman God sees in me – made in His image. The woman He loves so much that was willing to die for on the cross. How about you?
Prayer: Lord, help me to realize that I am your beloved child, not because of what I have accomplished, but because you have first loved me. Help me to give compassion to that beloved child when I get too self-critical. Amen.
Denise Aragón and her husband Juan are IM Global Servants in Chiapas Mexico. They live in San Crisotóbal de Las Casas with their two children Juan and Ziba. Click here to view their IM Web site.