5.15.2009

Learning to Love...


Don't you like my shoes?  Ok, so this post is not all about loving shoes!  But I just had to add them because they turned out so lovely...^_^

I am learning to be more graceful...towards myself.

Maybe it's because I'm a first-born,  or maybe it's because I'm a (teensy) bit of  a perfectionist, but I have always been very hard on myself.  I get so impatient with my constant shortcomings,  my glaring flaws, my failures and my guffaws.   The hardest verse in the Bible for me to apply to my life (and it happens to be a commandment) has been "Love your neighbor as yourself."  (Matthew 22: 39).  Loving others the way God wants me to requires me to love myself the way he wants me to.  I can't give grace and mercy to others if I can't give it to myself.

God began showing me this several years ago when My Honey and I first got married.  It was difficult for me to receive his love because I was so critical of myself and couldn't understand how anyone could look beyond my faults and love me.  At the same time, while I thought I was loving him, I was being critical and judgmental of him as well.  I was holding him to the same impossibly high standards that I have always held myself to.  Of course, nothing is wrong with having high standards, but high standards without grace becomes burdensome. 

I remember the night God began to speak to me about loving myself.  I was having such a hard time understanding how in the world to do that without becoming prideful because I knew that God detests pride.  The whole term "loving myself" just didn't sound right to me.  I was desperate for a revelation.  And then God spoke to me.  He led me to the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13...
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (vs. 4-7)
He began to show me that the very definition of love is that "it does not boast, it is not proud!"  If I learn to truly love myself the way the Bible describes love, then it is not prideful at all.  Of course, we must always guard ourselves against the sin of pride because it can creep up on us when we least expect it, but loving ourselves the way God intended us to will help us learn to say no to pride and pity alike.

God then instructed me to do something that has been changing me from the inside out ever since.  He had me re-write 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 as a letter describing what loving myself would look like:

"I am patient with myself.  I treat myself kindly.  I do not envy, I do not boast.  I am not proud.  I am not rude or self-seeking, I am not easily angered by my faults and I keep no record of my wrongs.  I do not delight in evil, but I rejoice with the truth.  I always protect, always trust, always hope (that I'll walk closer with my Jesus), always persevere."

That wasn't the end.  After I let the truth of love begin to settle deep in my soul, God showed me that I could now love others as myself.

Again, I re-wrote the Love Chapter to read for others:

"I am patient with other's shortcoming's.  I am kind to others.  I do not envy others, I do not boast to them.  I am not proud.  I am not rude or self-seeking, others do not easily anger me and I keep no record of the wrongs they commit against me and my family.  I do not delight in evil, but I rejoice with them in the truth.  I always protect others, always trust, always hope, always persevere in my love for them."

Thank you, my Jesus,
for considering me worth dying for and worth living for.  Thank you for teaching me how to love like you do.  Help me to walk in your love every day of my life.

7 comments:

He And Me + 3 said...

That was awesome. So many times I think that that is part of my problem...truly loving and seeing myself the way HE (Father) does. Thanks for sharing this.

christy rose said...

This is an absolutely beautiful post! I have had to learn many of the same lessons. Thanks for sharing this!

Julie said...

Great post, Joye. Thanks for your visit to my blog and your sweet words.
I have discovered that until I love myself, telling myself what Papa God tells me it's impossible for me to love others. For too many years of my life I would cancel out His words of love and truth to me, with my negative self-talk. For example He says to me, "You have the mind of Christ".... later I catch myself saying, "I'm so stupid".... The more I tell myself what He says about me, the more I learn to embrace who am I with His love. It's rocking my world.

Thanks for sharing this! It's nice to meet you!

Veronica said...

Joye,

I can't tell you how glad I am to have such a sweet friend as you. Everytime I read one of your posts, I seriously feel like you have a word just for me. Thanks for sharing what's on your heart and reminding me of my own worth. It is something that I struggle with daily and I hope one day that will be different.

This post is one of my favorites!

Myra said...

Thanks so much for this post. I think I'm right in the middle of everything that you wrote. Being the firstborn and perfectionist, I feel and do so many of the same things. May God bless you today as you have blessed me.

Katie said...

You are wise beyond your years (:

Kristin said...

I missed this post too the other day.....I must need a lesson in blogging. LOL!

I love this post too. I am so hard on myself and I found I was judging people without ever taking time to get to know them, because I would assume they would never want to get to know me. God has been showing me lately that if I quit judging others and just simply love them, I can find that we have more in common than I ever dreamed. I'm just trying to be me because that's the way God made me, and others will either like me or they won't. I was always assuming because I wasn't perfect, that others would never want to get to know me and I realize now that was just silly because no one is perfect. I think you are so right....we have to love ourselves before we can love others.

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