Monday, March 27, 2017

Who do you love?

Today in my morning reflection, I was posed with a question: 

What do you love about yourself?

I wasn't sure I had an answer, or at least an answer with a simple list.  I appreciate the gifts God has given me.  I hope I have used them well, for His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.  

Yet, some of my experiences have been daunting, but I survived and thrived.  I love my children and I wish I had been a better mother when they were young.  I love my husband and I want to be a better wife to him.  I hope he never doubts my devotion to him.

I pray I am living as God intended.  I'm working hard at not dictating to God what that means.  I learn.  I try.  Yet, I seem to be inconsistent in my given qualities and possibilities.

What do I love about myself?

This one quality I love:  I am a risk-taker.  I am basically not afraid.  I am willing to try and try hard.  I am willing to make mistakes and learn from them.  I do love this about myself. I like that I have learned how to use this super-power for good and not for evil.  I want to be discerning of what is God's way in meeting change and challenge.  

The original question, though, challenged me with a second, near to it:

Do I love myself?

Do I value, hold dear, have an appreciation and affection for myself?  Do I work towards my own good? Do I hold a sweetness and fondness for who I am in being and action? (Like the love I hold for my grandchildren) Hmmm...How can I measure whether I "love" myself? 

So, I went to the Bible for my solution.  I always say it holds all the answers for life.  1 Corinthans 13:4-8.  The definitive terms of love have to tell the truth about the quality of love I may or may not hold for myself.

Am  I patient with myself?

Yes, by God's grace, I have learned that all humans live, move and change through a process.  It's a metamorphosis.  I love the process and can be patient through it.  I also am patient because I know it is God at work in me when I am in need of change and I want to be patient with His efforts.  He has perfect timing.  He knows what He is doing, so my patience with myself is as much patience with God and His processes.

Am I kind to myself?

I am learning to take it easy on myself.  I was once a task-master to myself (and others).  My kindness includes allowing for care, comfort and the above patience.  It does not exclude accountability, though, for it is a kindness when a person is told the truth and held to some accountability.  I hope I apply grace to even myself.

Am I rude to myself?

It has taken awhile to stop saying negative things to myself, or guilting myself, or always making myself least and little. God has some pretty great things to say about me; He has entrusted me with some great gifts.  I don't want to belittle any of the work He has done.  

Am I demanding of myself?
Am I irritable with myself?

Who suffers most with my Type-A personality?  Me!  It is interesting to ask for excellence of myself and yet recognize that I need others things besides "best behavior."  I know what I can do and can drive myself into unwellness with it.  It takes a humble, submissive confidence to keep balance with the other aspects of my life, which includes wellness and perspective.

Do I keep no record of wrongs against myself?

I am a human being who has made mistakes.  The only way I can manage the answer to the above questions is to place my sin and failures under the power of the Cross and the freedom of forgiveness.  Like many others, I find myself the hardest to forgive. But I will not deprive Christ of the effectiveness of His sacrifice and hold out forgiveness, even from me.  I love to live under these promises:

once slave, now free
no condemnation
reconciled to God
redeemed from the curse
more than a conqueror!

Do I rejoice when truth wins out in my life?

In fact, I celebrate truth, clarity.  I love that revelatory Truth of God when it is revealed to me, in me and has power in me.  Truth has set me free, indeed.  Truth is the ultimate quality of God I want translated in my life.  Interesting to me that it is one of the descriptors of love.

Do I never give up, never lose faith in myself?
Do I stay hopeful and endure through every situation?

By the power of God in me and trust in His work in me, I truly do not give up.  Being positive and hopeful are strengths built into me from my upbringing.  It is of God if I am able to endure, persevere until the end.  I do notice that life is L O N G. I am sure this part of loving myself is going to be tested as I face the slow, long road of old age into heaven (if I get to do it that way). 

So, do I love myself by that definition?  I do love myself that way. Could I love myself better?  Yes, I could.  I could build the activity of love so it is prepared to provide a loving "house" built by God's truth.  I love myself as I remember the reason for doing so.

First, we love ourselves for our own sakes.
Then, we love God for our own sakes.
Then, we love God for his sake.
Finally, we love ourselves for God's sake.
 Bernard of Clairvaux

Want to honor God's love for you? Explore the depth of what it means to love yourself for His sake.

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