• Rebecca Hoverd

Love God, love yourself, love others

Rebecca writes on how we really do need to love ourselves in order to actually love others as well. She also considers how the (possibly) high standards to which we hold ourselves and, therefore, others, can be damaging.

The other night at my homegroup we got talking about a lot of things. Among things, we talked about loving ourselves and others.

One of my friends shared something that really touched me and I think it serves as a great reminder in two ways.

1) When we hold ourselves to a high standard, we often will hold others to that standard and that has some less than ideal consequences.

The world often dictates to us that our worth is measured by our achievements and capabilities. We feel like we are worthy or that our status is defined by how good we are at this or how confident we feel about that.

We constantly praise and affirm people that achieve things, or are perceived to achieve things. The message is reinforced that our worth is derived from external measurements. This creates a lot of pressure to perform and succeed.

I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain way, achieve in every part of my life and to participate in everything. I’m not the only one and I see how myself and many of my friends end up extremely stressed.

But aside from the internal conflict, holding ourselves to high standard can create a negative fallout for those around us.

Expectation of others

When we unreasonably expect others to perform or behave according to our constructed and high standards, we put an immense pressure on them and can introduce unwarranted conflict into our relationships.

We can feel let down or hurt, and because our culture tells us to trust our feelings and affirms their validity constantly, we believe we are justified in feeling this way.

I’m not saying that there are never times when we can feel genuinely hurt in our friendships or relationships, but instead I’m suggesting that sometimes we can end up hurt because we have expected too much from other people and it’s just not fair. This can undermine the goodness of the relationship and the well-intentioned actions of the other person.

I would like to suggest that perhaps the next time you feel yourself upset by someone’s actions or omission, first, think about their intention, think about what you expected their actions to be and why you thought that, and finally, think about how this reflects on what you think about yourself as well. Hopefully you find freedom in this.

2) Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

A nice summary of the Great Commandments is ‘love God, love others, love yourself’. In a completely non-selfish way, I want to offer a correction to that statement and instead change the order to ‘love God, love yourself, love others.’

You see, at homegroup, we talked about how can you love others as yourself if you don’t love yourself. Because so many of us face insecurities, and despite rating ourselves highly by holding ourselves to the aforementioned high standards, we often don’t actually believe deep down that we have that level of worth. We don’t love ourselves.

And if we don’t love ourselves, then how can we love others like we love ourselves. I think we can’t. Or if we do, we aren’t loving our neighbour that well.

I don’t think it’s selfish to take some time to really understand how God (first) loves us, how we love God, then how we love ourselves, and finally, as response to all of this love, then to go out and love on others.

I think we need to get more comfortable with idea that we are loveable. We need to understand how God loves us and we need to deeply internalise that.

How can you love others as yourself if you don’t love yourself?

We need to regularly take part in practices that restore us and make us feel healthy. We need to look at ourselves in mirror, really look, and see that we are beautiful individuals, made worthy for God’s love. If the great God who created everything loves you, and you know it, how can you not love yourself?

Finally, I think we will see real transformation in ourselves (our minds and our souls), and in the communities around us when we remove the impossible standards of perfection and when we learn to actually love ourselves.

Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at rebeccahoverd@gmail.com.

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