Updated: Aug 5, 2022
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
“Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Ps 139:10
This notion of being held is the starting point for raw connection with God. It’s the bedrock of a real prayer life. (Sarah Haggerty)
Having been embraced by God, we must make space for others and invite them in---even our enemies. (Miroslav Volf)
I used to think that loving myself was in opposition to being a true Christ follower. And if changing the world was the goal….it required a lot of effort, sacrifice and intentionality on my part.
Loving myself was not part of the narrative I had adopted …and would have to wait.
It seemed what committed Christians did to change the world looked like this: Work really hard to do good, stay morally pure, study scripture and try to communicate God’s love in ways that others relate to.
Yet, how do we communicate a feeling, a truth, that we are not experiencing on a regular basis?
I noticed a subtle anger growing within myself as I tried to live this way. Henri Nouwen says “Anger is the experience of being deprived.” Turns out, depressing the desires that I innately knew where good for me and denying the truth of what I wanted and needed to thrive, were in fact sucking the joy out of my daily life…and certainly was not changing the world and those around me!
Maybe we don’t allow enough time to own God’s personal love for us. After we surrender to God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness, we get busy in Bible study, serving…and changing the world. We focus on wanting to look good in the public Christian eye, our ego clamoring for attention and recognition.
And we miss the formation of being held.
My two-year-old granddaughter regularly asks, “Hold and rock me, gamma”. Her day is anchored in her primary caregivers’ attention and connection. Without it, she becomes whiny and insecure.
“So many of us are waking up to a day without Dad and not quite sure what it looks like to be held. Friends, we’re 37 and 44 and 62, many of us needing to be two years old again. Instead of scolding our whiny little hearts into action, we need to be attentive to them. We need a cuddle—lots of cuddles. Prayer is the continual assurance that we’re safe. Can we make it that simple again and let ourselves be the little children who need circle-scratches on our back, whispers in our ear, and our hair tousled … all out of affection and nearness? This … this … is prayer.” (Sarah Haggerty)
Jesus never experienced a day without Dad….and his human life shows us how to feel and receive the Father’s affection, helping us “find the gateway to God.” (Ps 118:20) Was changing the world even his goal? I think His primary goal and desire is to tenderly love us and connect us to the relational nutrients the Father offers…acceptance, comfort, validation….that he, himself, regularly needed and experienced. The outcome? The world was changed!
Here are a few practical ways Jesus loved himself---
Didn’t stay in villages that didn’t welcome Him. (Luke 9:51-56)
Received comfort from the Father when He received sad news (Matt 14:12,13)
Made sure His personal needs were met. He ate healthy foods, got the sleep he needed and even took naps, took time to relax, and did a lot of walking (Matt 26:18, 20; Mark 1:16, 3:23, 4:38; Luke 7:36; John 10:40, 12:2).
Received support from friends. He sought the company of people that added value to his life. (Matt 26:36-38).
Enjoyed solitude. He withdrew from the crowds to go away on retreat, alone or with friends.
Unhurried Pace of Life. He was never in a hurry, except to go to Jerusalem and embrace his cross (John 11:6; Mark 10:32).( Adapted from www.soulshepherding.org/jesus-set-boundaries)
This has been the focus and theme of the last decade of my life. Embracing a wider, more holistic view of spirituality, which includes self-awareness, self-care and a healthy self-love has brought me to places of healing on my journey….for the sake of others and the world.
How are you loving yourself well? When was the last time you let Jesus hold you? In what ways can you be more patient and kind to yourself?