I had intended to post something else today but after reading the comment from Tucker yesterday thought I should pursue her comment and insight. I would like to add to her reflections with a few of my own. Thanks to her for sharing her thoughts!
The Law of Love says that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Self-love is a criteria to measure against or a model to employ in our relationships. Love is, by definition, a good thing, the best thing! Love is what God desires from us and for us.
True love seeks the best for the beloved. To love myself is not to give in to every passing desire. Love is disciplined. To love myself is not to focus on me and forget everyone else. Love is communal. If I love myself then I do what is best for me, and what is best for me includes self sacrifice and service, growth in wisdom and understanding, pursuing healthy behaviors and healthy relationships.
At the wedding last week the reading chosen was from John 15. Jesus said, at the last supper, "As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you, abide in My love." Perhaps the greatest obstacle I see in my work is the refusal to accept this love, to trust it and to surrender to it. I think, building on Tucker, it is a failure of self-love which is a blockade against Jesus-love. When I do not love myself I reject the love of others. Self-hatred is at the core of self-destructive behaviors. And it is a short trip from self-hate to other-hate. A short journey which many take.
So thank you Tucker for the comment. It is good to contemplate how open we are to the life changing love of God in Jesus. It is a worthwhile pursuit to seek the best for myself so I can be the best for others. And it is important to define "best" as that which truly makes me wise, holy, loving and good. Love makes me better and it makes those I love better. John 15 reminds us that love is obedient. So if I love myself I will obey Jesus because He offers abundant lfe. I want that for my wife and kids, for my friends and those whom I serve. I want the good for them and actually engage in behaviors which promote their good. So I must also do for myself. If we learn to truly love ourselves, true love, then we can learn to love and be loved by others. Most importantly we can "let God in" and stop living in the lies we have created to avoid our self-loathing.