In both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 19 and Matthew 19) we are taught to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Implicitly this teaches me that love for self is a given. It is normal and natural for me to care for myself and place value on my concerns and desires.
But why? What makes me so important? What is it about me that validates my inclination to self-preservation and fulfillment? May I suggest to you these passages:
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27 )
We are created in the image of God. His likeness is embedded in the depths of our consciousness. What makes me, ME and you, YOU resembles God-Almighty. How humbling is it to know that we “inherited,” so to speak, our best traits…what makes us the glory of creation…from God the Father of spirits.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Our soul, that eternal part of us – the part that endures beyond this finite life – is worth more than all the riches and masterpieces, fame and fortune this world has to offer. Nothing is worth losing heaven over. Hell is not worth the fancies and fantasies of this life. Each individual soul, yours and mine, is that important.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. (Romans 5:7 )
Ok, so God’s Son died for me. He died for you. But what does that mean? I am not perfect. I hopelessly fail every day at being the best version of myself. But that’s just it. Jesus died for the worst version of myself, not the best. He made me worth it all. He sacrificed himself for me with all of my flaws, and in doing that very thing He made me perfect. And that is why I am worth it.
So, am I worth being kind to? Yes. Am I worth being kind to my own self? Absolutely!
Have you ever done something ridiculous – or royally messed something up that was important? Perhaps you said to yourself, “Stupid!” or “You idiot!” Maybe you self-deprecate as a coping mechanism. Maybe you have a hard time treating yourself well because of how you were raised or who you are close to now. Maybe you don’t know how to be nice to yourself or others. Do you struggle with what that might look like?
Well, here are some suggestions that I practice that may help you treat yourself better than you might have been doing:
Take care of your body. It’s the temple of God. You only get one physical body to inhabit in this life. Use it wisely. Nourish it. Exercise, take vitamins, and eat foods that help it work best for you. Treat it respectfully and it will serve you well as you serve others.
Feel pretty. Queen Esther spent months preparing herself for the king. Ruth was encouraged to make herself attractive for Boaz. It’s ok to want to look nice. Feeling good about ourselves helps fuel our work and service. Also, for those of us that are married or trying to snag a husband, be aware that guys like girls that are comfortable in their own skin. Be you. Feel good about what you like. I like colorful eye shadow: hot pink, teal, gold, etc. I also LOVE jewelry. These things make me feel pretty and it’s an easy way that I’m kind to myself. If you find that a fresh, clean face free of extras makes you feel prettier, by all means, embrace that! Find your look and own it.
Provide time for prayer. God knows our needs and wants. He also has commanded us to communicate with Him. Prayer can be life-changing. Oh, how worries can be swept away if we only gave them the Lord. One of the greatest kindnesses we can do for others is pray on their behalf…and the same goes for ourselves. Am I – and are you – missing out on kindnesses bestowed on us because we simply have neglected to talk to God about it in the first place??
Find mental relief. Maybe you need alone time, away from kids, students, co-workers. Even our Savior needed a break every now and then. We can become emotionally exhausted, which can lead to physical exhaustion. We can wear ourselves down and really not be fit to do good for anyone else because we first are not kind to ourselves.
Express emotions. This is especially true for females. We need to get these vibes, whether good or bad, out and in the open. Watch a sappy movie and let the waterworks open wide. Listen to some comedy on Pandora. Scream to no one (if you can get a moment alone). Sing. Loud. In the car or in the shower. Find a trustworthy friend to confide in. Weep with those who are weeping. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
Do something you enjoy. David played the harp. I have a feeling he enjoyed it. Perhaps it helped him express emotions or bring him peace in the midst of great turmoil. Maybe you like to scrapbook, color, crochet, play basketball, travel, hike, etc. Enjoy the beauty and abilities God has given you. Do not take them for granted.
Spend time with friends. Proverbs speaks quite a bit on friendship. “Iron sharpens iron.” Good friends make us better. What a blessing to have those around us to remind us of the good and challenge us to improve.
Read for pleasure. Reading is good for the mind. We can learn new things. We can learn from our past. We can learn how to be better in various facets of our lives. But I really prefer reading for entertainment. I love love stories. Recently I’m enjoying suspense and mystery novels. Either way I consider this time a kindness to myself.
Recognize what you are good at. Self-evaluation. Self-examination. You are good at something. Maybe it’s a small thing. But start with that. Find what you are awesome at. Let that fuel the flame of confidence to try new things and improve areas that are lacking.
Forgive yourself. God forgives. He asks you to forgive others. How can you truly believe and be confident in His grace if you are not willing to forgive yourself? Who am I to not let go of something I have repented of if God no longer holds it against me?
Encourage yourself. In the face of death at the hands of his people, King David “encouraged himself in the Lord” (I Samuel 30:6). Sometimes you might be your only cheerleader. Sometimes I might be my only comfort or source of positive self-talk. Even at your darkest or loneliest, remember to give yourself some credit.
Remember you are a child of God. This is the greatest gift in the world, right? To be the daughter of the Almighty Father and sister to the Lion of Judah. Be kind to the child of God.
This list is not exhaustive by any means. Plenty could be added to it. Each of us has our own personal interests so please consider any and all things (in light of what is pleasing to God) as you make your own list!!
I’ll leave you with this:
So I say to you: Have courage and be kind to yourself. Not doing so can lead us down dark paths. It can lead to guilt and even keep us from being kind to others. Being unkind to self doesn’t just lessen the warrior; it lessens God, our Creator.
Christy is married to Josh, a minister at the North Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, TN. They have five children: Canaan, Caia, Carmody, Jude, and Jago. Christy is a graduate recruiter at Freed-Hardeman University. She enjoys reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and scrapbooking.
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