“And now, abideth by faith, hope, love; these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
From the words of the Father himself. Love is the greatest. Love reigns supreme. ALL we need is love.
God said love, but God did not say exactly what love is the greatest.
Is it love for our family?
Love for our Children?
Love for our spouses?
Love of our possessions?
Love for others?
Yes, all of these types of love are very important, however, what I am here to talk to you all about is none of them, but rather what I feel is the gateway to all other love — Self Love.
This week hosted Valentine’s Day, which as most are aware, is the single day in every year dedicated to love. Again, the founders of the day did not explicitly tell us exactly which love to celebrate, but rather just dedicated the day, February 14, to the overall celebration of love. Over the years, this celebration has been mostly limited to that of romantic love, leaving Single people feeling very much Single on that day. With the rise of social media usage, this day has become even more trivialized and capitalized, as people try to out-do one another in professing their love for their spouses, most showcasing the gifts they’ve received for the day. Its sweet in some cases, and a bit pretentious in others, as these practices are shifting the dynamics of traditional love, where observers are equating the size of the gift to the purity of love shared between the couples showcasing their gifts. Thats another story anyway.
This story though, is about self love, and how to find it.
I believe that when God spoke of love being the greatest of all doctrines that we as his servants should abide by, he was was speaking of self love. The Bible says that God made us in his own image, so in a sense, each and every one of us carry a piece of God, the Holy Spirit in our souls. God is a part of us. So when we are able to love ourselves undoubtedly for who we are, we are essentially showing love for God, and appreciating that he is part of us, and part of our spirits. With that, the formula is simple:
Love for self = Love for God.
If the formula is so simple, how then, is self love the most difficult love to find?
There are so many books, music, inspirational videos, etc. trying to teach us how to find self love, and yet, it is something many still struggle with. Even the most loved people on Earth are not able to attain self love. I believe self love is difficult to find because most of the time, we are not comfortable in our own truths. To be able to love who you are, you first have to know who you are, and find comfort in who that person is. Often times, we look at the lives of others in comparison to our own lives, and then lose sight of our own truths — “why them? Why do they seem to have everything? why can’t I have what they have?”
That, my friends, is where the problem lies. Comparison is an enemy to growth and to love. When we begin to compare our lives with that of others and start asking questions like “why them and not me?”, that is when we lose power over ourselves and over our truths. The truth is, we do not know what the next person has gone through or done to get to where they are in their lives. Our lives too, in comparison to that of others, seem to be going well and is something enviable, but the goal here is never to envy, as envy breeds hatred, and hatred is an enemy to love, especially self love.
The next part of the formula isn’t as simple, but is just as attainable:
Finding yourself — Comparison to others — Envy = Comfort in your truth.
Now, what is your truth? You truth is who you are. Not who you project to be. Not who you want to be. Who you are. When the doors are closed, you are alone standing naked in a mirror. Your truth what you see in front of you, and who you see in front of you. it goes beyond your physical self, and encapsulates your spirit.
Our truths are what lies in our hearts. Our likes, dislikes, wants, needs, turn-ons, turn-offs, desires, faults, strengths, beauty. It is that unseen light which exudes from our spirits, the words from our mouths, meditations of our hearts. It is us. Our truths are us, and we have to not only accept the being that all of these things make up, but we also have to be comfortable with it.
The cruel joke/reality of life is that this physical form we have been allotted is all we have and will know in the duration of our lives. We can try to alter the physical form, but the voice in our heads which led us to alter it in the first place will remain, because that voice will always speak the negative truth we have accepted of ourselves. What we should do is never to alter our physical forms, but rather our spirits so that we can be the best versions of ourselves.
Let me explain. We have been given one body, and one spirit to journey with through this life, and beyond. With this body and spirit, we are at the liberty to do with what we please. Now, in that freedom, it is important that we accept ourselves for the unique individuals we are, as there can never be another us. We are at the liberty to draw inspirations from those we admire, from God’s word, and from the voices in our minds, however, we are also at the liberty to control what those voices are saying. Are they saying negative things to us, comparing our lives with others, and wanting us to change who we are? If so, it is important that we change what they are saying and feed ourselves with positive words.
For example, something that I practice which has greatly supported me in my journey with self love is self care. I think deeply the things I love about myself and write them down, reading them to myself whenever I feel down. I also dedicate one day during every week to rest, go out and do the things I enjoy, and write, as all of those activities help take care of my mental health, and reminds me of the good things in my life.
This formula is also simple:
Self Care = Self Love.
One cannot simply love themselves if they do not take care of themselves. We live in a world which tells us self care is “Selfish”. Most of us do not want to be labeled as selfish, but rather self-less, so we work for the happiness of others, and love others more then we do ourselves. This is where we blunder. I do not believe we have to choose one for the other. As stated, self love, is the gateway to all other love. If you first love yourself, then you can unconditionally love others — whether its familiar, romantic, or social love. When we are able to love ourselves then we do not need the validation of another’s love in order to feel happy with ourselves. And the goal here, is to be happy.
So, here is the final formula:
Self love =/= Selfishness;
I like to think of self love as service to God. God said do all things in service to him, so when we love the complex, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, spectacular being he has made and given a piece of his spirit, and find comfort in that being, we are, essentially, loving God.
I can’t give it all away for now, but these are my most essential formulas I have shared with you. Read it again if you need to. Pray about it if you need to. But definitely, practice it, if you need to.