Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Mat 22:39 NIV) We’ve seen this pop up many places without realizing its real meaning. Most of the time we see it as Love Your Neighbor as Yourself but the NIV version of the bible and some other translations add the words “You Love” because that’s really what it’s saying.
The reality is you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. Self love is a hard concept for many people because of things they’ve gone through in the past. I know that from personal experience. It took a lot of work for me to be able to really love who I am because as a child I was told how worthless I was and believed it. The imprint period of our lives is said to be from 0-7 years old and if you are imprinted with negativity during that time, you have to do some work to release it and be able to see past those things that were imprinted on you as a child.
Many people don’t know what they don’t know and can’t see what they can’t see. Even those who have faith and believe in God and follow Jesus struggle with this concept of self love. Just because you turn your life over to God, doesn’t mean all the bad stuff is going to just magically disappear without doing some work to get through it. That’s why there are counselors in the church because pain and trauma need to be dealt with in many instances through working on the issues.
I always say the power is in the work (not works – work). Our minds tell us many things that are lies and you have to work on disbelieving those lies. It does take some work with yourself for many to really love who you are. Once you love who you are, it’s much easier to show love, grace and respect to others. When you encounter someone who is nasty, mean or miserable, understand that they may not love and may actually hate who they are and are acting that way to cover up the pain.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is a goal for some and a reality for others. If we can get to the point where we love ourselves, maybe there will be more love, grace and compassion for others in the world.