“I hope you get IT and die.” I crumble in disbelief any human, a woman… could hiss these words through her mask to a complete stranger in a nearby grocery store. Why? Because the recipient of the hateful remark was maskless.
Are we really this ugly? Are we this unkind, this opinionated, this judgmental… spiteful… because we don’t love others? Or is it that we don’t love ourselves? I wonder…
Hearing whispers from the Creator Father allows me to remain focused and secure. Words of love, affirmation and encouragement settle around me, and I am able to joy in the NOW, even in the turmoil. But lately, I have heard the ugly more often. Ugly words, shouted around me; I struggle to hear positive echos stirring my thoughts; I fret in the silence. This venom filled comment definitely disturbed my spirit.
How can I love my neighbor as myself if I don’t love me? A friend shared her struggles of insecurity when she was a young wife and mother. “I put myself and others down in order to show I was an okay person. But I wasn’t. I did not know how to love me”. Jesus gave this answer as the second most important command. First, love the Lord with all your heart and then love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:29-30
How can I love you if I don’t love me? And is it even possible to love me?
I repost the following here from Cecil Murphrey’s February 2022 newsletter, author of multiple books (90 Minutes in Heaven is one) and leader of writers’ conferences. (You will be privileged to good writing in his post.) This expresses so clearly the answer of accepting and loving oneself.
|Last month I turned 89, and I’m still learning. For example, I’ve been reading about the Desert Fathers—monks and hermits who fled into the deserts of Egypt beginning in the third century. Feeling contaminated by their culture and seeking a purer relationship with God, those men (and later women as well) wrote of their insights.
One concept from my reading has stayed with me: passing judgment on others is a sign that we haven’t fully encountered ourselves. They point out that if we’re upset by the words or actions of others, we’re damning ourselves. Conversely, if we truly accept who we are, we don’t criticize anyone. “If anyone is bearing his [own] sins, he does not look on those of his neighbors.” Heaven Begins Within You by Anselm Gruen p.53
That has stayed with me because my judgmentalism reflects my own self-condemnation. One writer pointed out that while we’re disparaging another, we unconsciously sense that we too aren’t perfect. The Desert Fathers believed that renouncing judgment and condemnation was the direct path to inner peace.
Or to state it differently, a wise teacher said, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? . . . First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:3,5 NLT).
I wonder how many times I’ve read Jesus’ words and moved on; however, reading the same idea from a nonbiblical source challenged me. Each morning, I now pray, “God, help me fully accept myself as I am, so I can fully accept others as they are.”
If you know me personally, you know I haven’t reached my goal. Instead of being downhearted, I remind myself that I’m still learning and growing. That adds excitement to my life.
The more fully I love the person I am, the more able I am to love others. (Cecil Murphrey)
I need to read one sentence again: if we truly accept who we are, we don’t criticize anyone. Paul writes in Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ has accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
I learned to love me by listening to the One who loved me best; Scriptures reinforced His whispers. How beautiful to understand I was loved. (Whispers on the Journey, available on Amazon, shares the path of this journey.) I am still learning to listen and to accept God’s words as personal.
And I am learning to fully LOVE… me and you!