The first commandment is, ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
The greatest commandment tells us to love our God, but also to love our neighbours as ourselves. We often focus on loving God and loving neighbours, but part of the phrase is ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. How can we truly love God or other people if we do not love ourselves? We will always feel slightly uneasy, self-conscious and negative if we don’t love ourselves, which will always affect our relationship with others.
In order to connect with God and with other people, we first need to connect with ourselves, to be open and honest with ourselves. We live in a very strange world, where many people dislike themselves – how they look, how they behave, and many other things about themselves. However, we also live in a world where more people are free to express who they truly are in how they dress, speak and act – yet even this new freedom doesn’t always bring happiness. And this same world also judges those who are different. Many are desperate to be liked by everyone, as seen through various social media sites, yet the one person who needs to like us is ourselves.
To connect with ourselves, we need to really look at ourselves and be honest with how we feel about ourselves, why we feel that way, and then try to change our attitude to positivity.
God knows us, has known us since before we were born. We are made in God’s image and God loves us exactly as we are. If we could see ourselves how God sees us, we would love ourselves too. One hymn that reminds us of how well God knows and loves us is ‘O God you search me and you know me’ (Singing the Faith 728) by Bernadette Farrell, is a beautiful rewording of Psalm 139. For those who feel they need to change a little, ‘Purify my heart’ (Singing the Faith 508), by Brian Doerksen, speaks of God refining us from within.
You love us just as we are, whoever we are
Help us to love ourselves,
to search ourselves as you search us,
to see your reflection in us.
Show us how to connect with ourselves honestly and openly
That we may love ourselves, you and others more openly