“Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself…”
No matter if it suddenly comes on the radio or if your friend starts humming it, Justin Beiber’s Love Yourself is sure to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. While the song as a whole tells of a relationship filled with use of the other, I keep hearing that one line “you should go and love yourself” in a very different way.
I find, with myself and others, that while strife within relationships is common, rarely do we pull a Mr. Darcy who’s “good opinion once lost, is lost forever.” Instead we forgive, over time, the hurt done to us, because of love for the other.
As human beings we love very easily.
We were created because of love, for love, and to love. Think about your close friends, how did that attachment start? Was it like the C. S. Lewis quote?
And slowly that attachment grew stronger through shared experiences until it reached the point of love. A love that helps you forgive past hurts and a love that strengthens you to call your friends out when they’re wrong.
As humans we love one another easily, but how easy is it to love yourself? Was there ever a time when you stood in front of a mirror and not a single negative thought crossed your mind?
I can honestly say that I have never experienced that.
Before I go on I want to clarify that I am not going to talk about loving your physical features, which is important, but I would much rather devote a thesis paper to that subject as opposed to a single blog post. No, I’m talking about loving your whole self, not just that one, tiny facet.
We tend to be far more forgiving to others then ourselves, both mentally, physically and spiritually. Maybe you didn’t get that grade you wanted even though you had been studying non-stop for the test, yet you are still beating yourself up over it. Or you fall into the death trap called comparison. Where you compare your whole, messy self to the highlights of other people’s lives. I know I’ve done this with my spiritual life. This past summer I compared my chaotic, stop-and-go relationship with the Lord to the snippets I witnessed of other’s relationships with Him. I didn’t realize that the beautiful, faith filled relationships I had witnessed were just small snapshots. That there were struggles my friends had to face to get to that point of faith. No, I made myself blind to the heartache that is necessary for such growth and focused solely on the pretty, peaceful parts, eventually getting frustrated with my spiritual life when it became stagnate as a result.
Often we desire so much to get to that future point in our lives where everything is settled, safe, and “perfect” that we begin to exist in this hazy, “someday” ideal and we forget to live and be still long enough in the present moment to love ourselves.
Here is a thought, if we are unable to love ourselves as we are right now, how can we let God love us? If we think that we can only approach Him when we have everything put together and perfect, we miss the greatest part, to me, of His love.
Jesus wants our mess. It draws Him near to us as a bee is drawn to a flower’s perfume. When we are able to recognize our weaknesses and brokenness in front of the Lord instead of hiding them behind our backs He is able to do something amazing. He gently takes these broken messy parts of ourselves and makes them into something beautiful in return. Just look at the lives of the saints! All were once sinners, but by acknowledging their weakness to the Lord, he strengthens them, supports them, and helps them do things we consider extraordinary.
It is through this humbling, painful, yet oddly freeing process that we begin to love ourselves as He does. We begin to love our strengths along with our weaknesses, our mess along with our perfected parts. We begin to love wholly not selectively. And you wanna know the kicker? We are then able to love others so much better.
I’m not an expert on this, in fact I have only recently begun my journey of self-acceptance and love through the Lord, but I invite you to join me. If there is one thing I wish you to remember it is that “you should go and love yourself.”