The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
~ Galatians 5:14
We all know a little bit about ourselves. Okay, we know a whole lot about ourselves. But when it comes to caring for others as ourselves, we must always start with us.
When I meet new patients for the first time, I often want to know about their faith journey, but also about milestones in their life. Often this will include times of great success, as well as, failures.
It's really okay to have both. In fact, we have all heard that a person cannot succeed without first trying, or even, experiencing failure. How we go forward from these moments says a lot about who we are.
One of the hardest things for any of us to hear is when the experience that someone has, then shapes their own feelings about who they are.
When I meet someone who seems to spend a lot of time talking negatively about himself, I will often ask, "So who first told you that you were like this?"
It's amazing how many of us carry poor images about ourselves based on what someone joked about as a child, or what some family member or friend said about us. I then will often ask, "And why did you believe this about yourself?"
It is one thing to "Own up" about something you have done, it's another to carry it with you the rest of your life.
In this case I can speak about myself. Often when I write about things like this, I'm often talking to myself as well. How we perceive ourselves, can't help but find its way into our daily life. For some, it then becomes a road block.
Let's face it, we live in a world full of images of what we should look like, what happiness should feel like, and what real success means. But for most of us, these are images or beliefs that none of us will ever remotely attain or own, but yet will experience because we realize that our own image of these things matters more for us!
Sometimes it's easy to look at our neighbors with anything but love when we have issues with our own self. I think that's why Jesus talked so much about beginning with us and the love we first must have for who we are. It is not selfish to love yourself. It is the beginning step to being able to love others.
If you begin to look at yourself and question what it is about yourself you don't like or love, think about what it was, or who it may have been, that first told you this about yourself, and decide whether it is worth carrying another day.
While it may not cause a revelation of self, it can provide you with a way to love yourself more deeply. Love yourself.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.