Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow; a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as we love ourselves. (p.26)
She goes on to say:
Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves. This is a tall order given how hard most of us are on ourselves. I know I can talk to myself in ways that I would never consider talking to another person. How many of us are quick to think, God I’m so stupid and Man, I’m such an idiot? Just like calling someone we love stupid or an idiot would be incongruent with practicing love, talking like that to ourselves takes a serious toll on our self-love. (p.27)
I think she’s onto something here. I’ve been down the road of beating myself up and constant self-rebuking and it certainly didn’t help me become a more loving person! We also remember the words of Jesus:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. the second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
Jesus wants us to know that we are people who are capable of love and that love is to flow in three directions; towards God, towards ourselves and towards our neighbour. We can’t just conjure up self-love out of nowhere though. Unlike Brown I believe that love is something we get, as well as something we nurture and grow. We get love from the one who is love; God himself. John writes:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:7-12, 19)
Loving ourselves means remembering that God loves us. It means learning to see ourselves the way God sees us; as beloved children of God – holy, blameless, forgiven and free through the work of Jesus Christ. He has bestowed on us worth; we are precious in his sight. Sinner is not our identity anymore. In Christ we are new creations with brand new hearts filled with the Spirit of Jesus. Christ is in us and we are loved beyond measure. The cross is the proof of that. What we now seek to pass on to others is that God loves them too. We seek to be filled to overflowing with the love of God and through our words, actions and manner we pass on what we have discovered for ourselves; that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).