Love is defined as an affection for another. But what about love for ourselves? Galations 5:14 states, For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we cannot love ourselves, how can we love others?
The less we love ourselves, the more we have a tendency to focus on what we consider our shortcomings, which in turn keeps us from focusing on others. How do you tell if you or another does not love themselves? One way is by their actions. Do they overeat, drink or do drugs? It’s easy to tell if you can see it. But what if the self-hate isn’t so evident?
Maybe your hatred is inward. Self hatred consists of things like shame, guilt, and self-loathing. It keeps us from feeling we are worthy of God’s love.
We feel shame for something we’ve done or that someone has done to us. Abuse, whether it be sexual, emotional, or physical leads to large amounts of shame. Guilt walks hand in hand with shame. And all of it leads to self-loathing.
“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…” – Cheri Huber, author
We need to learn to love the person in the mirror as much as we are to love others. That means asking for forgiveness for not just our enemies, but ourselves as well. Your heart might be saying you’re forgiven by the Lord, but your mind continues to say He doesn’t love you. When that is happening, it’s usually not because God hasn’t forgiven you, but you haven’t forgiven yourself.
Self-hate is usually a sign that our forgiveness needs to come from within. You must look at that person in the mirror and forgive them for whatever is keeping you from feeling loved.
If you are living with self-loathing, you must tell yourself daily you are loved. Need help? Every day for the next month, stand in front of the mirror first thing in the morning. Say “I love you. You are forgiven not just by God, but by me as well.” Eventually you will discover freedom from shame and guilt to the point you actually believe those words and can move on to enjoy a joyful life in the Lord.
And the more we learn to love ourselves, as long as it’s not egotistical, the more we can love others.
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