Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. Henri J.M. Nouwen
What does it mean to “love yourself?” Lots and lots have been written on the subject. Maybe I should start with what it’s not. It’s not “pampering” yourself. It’s not arrogance. It’s not narcissism. It’s not egotism.
What is it? I think it involves “knowing yourself.” Knowing who you are. Knowing the way you have been made and Who made you is so important. You might want to ask the question, “How would you want someone to express love to you?” Once you’ve settled that, you will begin to treat yourself the way you would want someone to treat you. You realize that you would extend forgiveness to someone else because that’s what you would want. You’ll begin to extend that same consideration to yourself. It involves the discipline of non-comparison. Not comparing yourself to others like your appearance, education, or family heritage to anyone else on the planet. Comparing yourself to who you are not is a major factor diluting your ability to love others. You recognize at a deep level that not everyone will love you, but that not everyone has to love you. You realize that God’s love for you is sufficient.
Foundationally, you do realize that your ability to love other people is connected to how much you love yourself? This doesn’t sound politically correct on the surface. But, just giving yourself away to others without a healthy love for yourself will inevitably leave you wanting, depleted and sometimes bitter. Are you a person who loves to help and care for people? That’s awesome. Demonstrating and giving love to others, according to Jesus, is the second greatest commandment. As you pour into others, don’t forget our ability to love others is linked to loving ourselves.