Loving yourself is a passionate subject of mine, especially because many believers are missing out on the power of what it means to love yourself as God does. It is my heart's desire to cultivate some healthy narratives over this issue so that more people can experience the power of God's love to set them free.
In my own journey of feeling as though I were up against a wall, filled with deep frustration and anger, I cried out to God like never before. I wanted Him to change the frustrating circumstances I was up against.
But I soon learned that He was more about addressing what was going on in me.
I felt a prompting that changed my life and healed me deeply. "I want to teach you how to love yourself, because whenever things get tough, you get really hard on yourself. I want to free you from that."
Learning to Love Myself
This leading transformed my journey, because for so long, I was my own worst enemy and lived with incredible pressure against myself. You didn't need to be hard on me, as I was already harder on myself than anyone else could be.
Yet this had to change, because this pressurized approach against myself only produced more tension, stress, anger and inward hostility. God used my struggle as a time to face an issue I had neglected to face: how I saw myself. It was time that I learned to love myself with the love God had for me.
But as I began to learn and grow in this subject, I noticed that many in Christianity were avoiding the subject altogether.
So why is it important to address this subject? Here are some simple reasons:
- You were not loved properly growing up. When you are not loved properly in early childhood, it keeps you from understanding what love is like. You're not even sure what you are looking for. For most of us, the reference for what true love looks like has been distorted. Our broken experiences keep us from knowing what it even means to love your neighbor as yourself.
When you are not loved in a healthy way, you'll try to perform for love. But because love is not meant to be earned, you will continue to feel empty.
Anytime you make time for yourself, you'll feel guilty, as though you are doing something wrong. You've been trained to always do for others without knowing how to slow down and receive from God.
- Hating yourself is not addressed like it needs to be. For centuries, it has been deemed acceptable for Christians to beat themselves up relentlessly in the name of humility when in reality, self-hatred was the underlying motive. That is why so many believers are uncomfortable with receiving love. An awkwardness arises, creating a resistance to the love they were created for.
It's time we address the false humility we fall into and call it what it really is: self-hatred.
- You must stop being hard on yourself. If you relate at all to my journey, today would be a good day to start a fresh journey, ending the battle against yourself, while learning to allow love to have a deeper work in your heart. You may find that being hard on yourself brings about great accomplishments, but you are still left empty and unsatisfied. Perfectionistic pressure cannot satisfy your need to be loved.
- You do relationships out of how you see yourself. Your marriage, parenting, friendships and leadership relationships all flow out of how you see yourself. The more you come into the peace that is available when God's love penetrates your heart, the more others around you will experience that love. When you love yourself, the ability to have healthy boundaries and to forgive others can flow more freely.
- It's time to work on what you see in the mirror. I can remember passing a mirror in the shopping mall and having a barrage of hateful thoughts cross my mind. The problem is that we come into agreement with those thoughts and join the self-rejecting attack on our looks, how our voice sounds or what we do.
One of the first steps towards healing is to allow God to heal what you see and focus on when you look at yourself. The love of God has the power to change and transform what you see, so that you see yourself as He sees you.
If we want to experience deep transformation, then we need to begin seeing ourselves as God sees us. It has to imbed itself into every area of our lives.
- We all need to break through self-centered tendencies. One of the misleading beliefs that many have is that if you love yourself, you will become selfish. This is incorrect. If you love yourself properly, you actually don't waste time obsessing about yourself. The flow of love is able to work through you without interference.
If you say you love yourself but don't give out love sacrificially and freely, then more learning needs to take place on what loving yourself should really look like.
When we do not love ourselves, we become selfish. A counterfeit form of love takes residence.
- It's time to stop living a burnout lifestyle. There are many who avoid the subject of how they see themselves by always giving out without caring for their own heart. They deflect love that is directed towards them and avoid being loved on by someone.
They are only comfortable with being in serving mode.
If you find yourself so busy, without the ability to stop, sit and enjoy stillness, there may be some issues of the heart you are avoiding.
The good news is that today, an invitation is waiting for you to learn what it really means to experience God's love and see yourself the way that God sees you.
Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full-time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and his wife, Melissa, founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside-out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark's teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.
For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.
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