Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's This Self Love Stuff?

Self love, self esteem, self preservation...all buzz words that are pretty prevelant in our culture today. I don't remember hearing a lot about that as a kid. In Sunday school, I mostly learned how to be "unselfish" and how to love others. There is some sort of line I must be missing.

I've been talking to a friend about self love. Doesn't that sound pretentious or arrogant? I have to define for myself what love of self is and then what it means to me.

I do like some of the things I do. I could list those things that fall mostly into the accomplishments/experiences/relationships category. I could even tell you how incredibly blessed I am in many ways but I don't think that is the axis this thing is spinning on.

A friend asked me if I enjoy being alone with myself? I said that I don't know if I ever have been alone with least for an extended period of time. Then, here's the question. When you are alone, are you with your best friend or your worst enemy? I spent time trying to wrap my head around that, well frankly, sometimes I truly am my own worst enemy. I am harder on myself than anyone would ever be and I let my thoughts take me to places that are not safe or healthy for my self-esteem or for my faith.

My life has been predicated on serving others, students, family, kids, parents, community and of course, God. I usually fall in somewhere near the bottom on my "to do" list and if there are needs that interfere with what I'm thinking I want, they always come first. That, my friends, really is an addiction. Do they have a PA? Pleasers anonymous, or CA Caretakers Anonymous? It would be great to be able to share that struggle with others who walk this path. I have the gift of exhortation, (encouragement, cheerleading). I am attempting to set healthy boundaries around that.

John Eldredge, from the book "Walking with God", You can't find your real purpose in life while you're still slavishly serving other people;s expectations of you. You can't find peace while you're ruled by fear. You can't enjoy what you have while you're envying what the other guy has."

I am shocked to find out that I need not give up myself and my innermost desires in lieu of others and their needs....all the time. I do think there is a place of sacrifice for the good of the whole and I will never become calloused to the needs of others. I am in the business of service. I serve others as a teacher but there is a point at which I give up myself and what makes me tick. I give up on seeking those goose bump moments that fill my own heart and set my spirit free. Why? Here's what resonates in my thinking. Others needs are more important than my own. I don't like confrontation. I don't want to "rock the boat" or make people mad or cause people to hurt or to dislike me. The list goes on and on. Those last statements have been an integral part of my daily thought process. I have given up many things that I love, things that make my socks go up and down. And I absolutely DO know what those things are.

So, the question remains. Why do I do that? "People pleasers have never learned to say no, they think that others would get mad at them; and when that happens it means they're bad people and would be abandoned by the people they love." Earnie Larsen

Okay, here's the simple Biblical truth that may have helped me turn a corner.
A wise woman quoted scripture, a commandment, to be exact, that I committed to memory as a child. She said, "Love thy neighbor, as thyself." Hmmmmm. That means it is a given, to GOD, that we love ourselves.
That thought never occurred to me....until now.

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