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“Dear Jesus, please give me the words. I have no idea what to write, and I have to write something.” This was my prayer going into writing this final Troubadour article for the semester.
I knew I wanted to write about loving oneself, but I felt grossly under-qualified to do so, because I struggle to put this very concept into practice on a daily basis. Nonetheless, I ventured to compile my thoughts on the topic, so here they are.
What does it mean to love someone? Does it mean that you feel all warm inside when you are around them or that your heart breaks when you cannot be with them? Does it mean that you care about them deeply? Does it mean that they make you happy? Does it mean that they love you and so you love them back simply as a response? (If you read my last article on “loving enemies,” you’ll know this is not the answer).
But seriously, what do the words “I love you” even mean? Some people throw them around so much that I don’t even think that they know why they are saying those words. Other people, like myself, are much more cautious with those words — afraid to commit to them unless they have been thoroughly thought-out.
Furthermore, is it possible to say “I love you” to yourself and to mean it? Is it possible to be your own friend?
It certainly seems possible that we can be our own enemies. How many times do we look in the mirror and notice flaws before anything else? Maybe it doesn’t even take a literal mirror for the flaws to be highlighted. I know, for me, a lot of the time this sense of being one’s own worst enemy manifests in the form of negative self-talk.
And then there’s the concept of “self-care” or “self-love” that the media is so big on today. It seems so great on paper, but is it really possible for college students to eat well, sleep well and nourish themselves spiritually and socially while keeping up with the academic demands of the day-to-day?
Although it can be challenging, loving ourselves is possible, if we see ourselves in the light of Christ’s gaze.
In the clutter and business of finals season, it can be so hard to hear God and feel his presence, let alone sense his “gaze.” So, what do I mean by this?
I mean that God looks at each of us with an unbreaking stare — the kind of stare that we see in the movies when a girl or guy is so in love with someone that all they want to do is look into their face. That’s it.
God doesn’t want us to do anything. He just wants to look at us and have us look at him … constantly. This is his mission.
And in seeking for us to look at Him, He uses the most gentle and tender of tactics; his love is like a sweet melody that is playing in the back of the mind, reminding you that you are loved.
This is the kind of love with which God gazes at us. So, if God can look at me this way, then what right do I have to look at myself any other way? How can I look at myself with discouragement, with displeasure, with loathing — whatever it may be — if God himself does not see me that way?
I hope that as you read this, you might ask yourself these same questions. Look at yourself through the eyes of Christ, and you might be surprised at what you see.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” – 1 Samuel 16:7
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39