February 14 was Valentine's Day, and after some time out for those who wanted to spend it with loved ones, I have chosen to use the time after to present this posting on the theme of love.
I have a poem I'd like to share that was written by my husband some years back, so check out the tab for poetry. I also have an article below titled Love's Beginnings: It All Starts With Self, and finally a video which I'd like to share with you, still on the theme of love. So I end here by saying may God bless you and may you allow love to be a part of your life not just on Valentine's Day, but every day.
It All Starts With Self
For the month of February, when the romantic sparks are still hot and high-flying and when this romantic love eclipses all other kinds of love to the point that it seems, again, the one brought to the forefront of our national consciousness, I'd like to take time to offer my humble thoughts on self-love. This kind of love has a kind of mystery that makes it so misunderstood. How so?
Well, before attempting to answer that, I am compelled to state its obviousness: Self-love, being reflective, does not require another person. Or so it seems on the surface. And maybe that is well, because it's not a bad idea to take time out to apply that self-love toward some personal reflection to find out what it is that you have that someone other than yourself might find appealing.
Or, to put it another way, what exactly is it that you have that makes you so lovable that you just can't help yourself. It's good to know that information beforehand, before adding an extra load of a purported love for someone else on your plate.
Unfortunately, as I have stated, the whole notion concerning self-love has some measure of misunderstanding linked to it. The preface "self," at least in this case, doesn't seem to bode well when it’s combined with the word "love." That's because it somehow translates from "self" to "selfish." And selfishness is not a quality most people would deem admirable.
However, when I was growing up as a young girl, I saw in the word "self-love" another word that was cushioned with one or more positive connotations or attributes. When one spoke of self-love, the word "self-respect" came most immediately to mind.
You see, self-love precedes love for others just as its sister word self-respect does. With self-love, there is incorporated into it a respect that is needed to make love what it truly is: a successful and beautiful phenomenon. That which you have for yourself; namely, a self-respect or self-love (both self-reflections) is as powerfully potent as a drug, an aphrodisiac that you hope will produce the right effect of promoting and contributing to everyone’s well-being, meaning beyond the self.
It's like you're looking in the mirror to check to make sure everything is in order. While you’re standing, looking at your reflection, there is someone (perhaps your professed loved-one), who suddenly walks in and catches a glimpse of you during what you thought was a private moment alone.
Self-love is revealed when one is prompted to show a concern for one’s physical health and well-being, which involves eating well, exercising, and establishing habits of good grooming and oral hygiene.
Self-love has another side beyond the physical. It involves one’s spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being, where you are taking the steps that will give you the strength and stamina to withstand the onslaughts that come with life itself. When you have self-love there’s a synergism of all those things that contribute toward making that love possible. You love how you feel, the like-magic mental maneuvering that take place within your brain. Spiritually you feel uplifted, empowered to go on. Your business becomes ensuring that your pleasant situation continues intact.
When you have self-love you are aware of its limitations. For example, although you may love someone else, you cannot allow that person to have freedoms that are detrimental to your state of well-being. When you have self-love you do not tolerate being treated less like a human being and more like a punching bag or a rag that is used to constantly wipe up the nasty, dirty spills at the expense of harming or endangering your own personal welfare. Self-love has the sensitivity to perceive these things, and it seeks to separate from the falseness and harm of perverted love.
Often times the person who mistreats another may also have been exposed to a history or pattern of that same mistreatment and has simply carried it over into another relationship of dysfunction. This situation is part of a cycle where self-hatred comes into play. In a situation where the cycle is a healthy one, you’d have, instead, love being shown as a gift, one that is not forced, as true love can only be, and between the two partners, there is reciprocity and appreciation.
Self-love is synonymous to self-esteem. If there, at any point, exists behavior that is outside of the boundary of what is expected in a truly loving relationship, then the person who has self-love will act accordingly. This is not to dismiss the possibility for forgiveness, but only that one recognizes that there must be a change in the behavior. Though love cannot be forced, behavior can be.
Finally, I'd like to add this last thought. I can see many of the fruits of the Spirit being a part of self-love, as it would be a part of love in general. Note Galatians 5:22-23, wherein it says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
From this point on, I'm extending this writing beyond my original write-up on this subject of self-love. What follows now may be characterized as more controversial, risky or however you choose to call it. Commentary maybe? I don't know. Just bear in mind that all of what I say are my own personal thoughts and are not meant to offend anyone. Please, don't take it that way. Anyway, here goes:
It is sad to see so many people who seem to manifest the signs of having an empty void in their souls. It’s also sad that there’s a lack of genuine love in the world today, and in pointing these out, I believe a case can be made that there is a correlation between the two. Assuming we’re in agreement on the state of affairs for our country, specifically, and the world in general, I suggest the ultimate answer lies in the bible. But, if I’m to speak in humanistic terms, then I suggest that a healthy dose of self-love steeped with its positive attributes will still do wonders. Or at least to start off.
Injecting self-love into the bleak scenario I presented above, when it’s at its optimum, will or should spread and sprout into many more examples of self-love. I believe that’s a good thing, at least a good thing as I am visualizing self-love to be. I'm seeing self-love extending itself out to love others through showing real care and actual commitment to help and uplift humankind.
And no, I’m not saying that the only way to have love of any kind in your heart would come to you only through a reading of the bible. In fact, you may read it and come out with a different interpretation despite what I and others come up with.
For me personally, the bible opened my eyes to a fuller and better understanding of this thing called sin. So far as I’m concerned, it makes the best case for explaining man's wretchedness; how he got there; and the prescription for his redemption, or if you prefer, healing. If after reading a chapter like Romans and you get to parts that doesn't make you feel lovey-dovey or good all over, there's still hope. It's not all bad.
What I am saying is that I see in the definition of self-love enough to want or believe that anyone who claims to have it would want to embrace certain standards. What those standards are is where there is disagreement. For me, the standards I thought were so noble and worthwhile turned out to be what the bible describes as fifthly rags. For example, thinking that being a “good” citizen or a "good" person period because you did all those "good" aka "nice" things will bring you salvation. And in case you’re not following me, the key to understanding this lies in the definition of good; that is, how man defines it.
I suppose among my earliest moments of realizing I possessed some amount of self-love came when I saw that the heavens declared the existence of God, among all his other glorious work. I instinctively knew that there were moral laws by which I would be finally judged. I mean, I remain in a constant battle to not allow things to get under my skin to drive me to a point where I might regret certain actions that could diminish any (that word again) "good" I had likely entertained about myself. I know within the fiber of my being that I cannot act so impulsively or irresponsibly to my detriment, because there is someone to whom I must be accountable. And as I had mentioned earlier, one’s spiritual, mental, and emotional health are vital aspects to self-love, so these are things to be treasured.
When a person has the kind of self-love which I have described, one that has respect, care, accountability or limitations, the outcome is going to take on a different trajectory. It is expected that those who adopt and apply Christian principles in their lives are among the least likely to commit some of the heinous crimes that are committed today. But wait, I might have heard at least one whoa! But I have not finished yet.
Yes, I'm aware of the existence of atrocities that are committed under the banner of Christianity just as there are those who commit them under the maybe invisible banner of their nonbelief, but this would not be the case if one were truly a Christ follower for the simple reason that doing so would contradict the true tenants and integrity of the faith alone, especially with regard to love. In other words, these actions are misrepresentations. They are contrary to the one who is supposedly being followed; namely, Christ, the epitome of love at its fullest.
In my own spirituality I understand the concept of human sin; how God out of his great love for us sent his Son to earth on a rescue mission that culminated in a death, burial, and resurrection; and how the work of Christ imputes righteousness upon us, a people who are the crown or pinnacle of all his creations and so should feel honored or at least care enough to want to display well of the self and other human copies that are, in a sense, Christ copies. With self-love there is a connection that appreciates the beauty, the dignity, and significance of what is meant by being created in the image and likeness of the one who created us. With this understanding and the previous statements I espoused concerning self-love, it is a positive thing to be desired and greatly appreciated.
In fact, in the midst of knowing that there are those who may hold views that self-love is conceited and leads to sin, I still hold on to my belief, at least until convinced otherwise, that it is because of self-love we are moved to imitate a love that is truly more life-fulfilling, life-sustaining, and life-transforming.
Yes, romantic love has its place, but there are other types of love that deserve its place in our lives as well, and certainly self-love is among them. So I just want to give self-love a shot at sharing in some of the glow in the spotlight of national attention and recognition.
After all, it seems only proper and fit to spotlight and to contemplate self-love. We are by nature more inclined to think of ourselves first before others. But, depending on how we perceive and move forward from that initial state, self-love isn't selfish. It can have, again, positive results for all of humanity. Self-love isn't conceited. Self-love is healthy. Self-love is a great beginning. It's the seed that when nourished properly grows into the healthy kind of love that God intended for us long before we came into existence. Long before we thought we could know anything.