If I loved myself

th-1I was so blessed by reading your comments on Brennan Manning that I don’t want to leave this subject just yet.

“DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GOD OF JESUS LOVES YOU BEYOND WORTHINESS AND UNWORTHINESS, BEYOND FIDELITY AND INFIDELITY, THAT HE LOVES YOU IN THE MORNING SUN AND THE EVENING RAIN, THAT HE LOVES YOU WHEN YOUR INTELLECT DENIES IT, YOUR EMOTIONS REFUSE IT, YOUR WHOLE BEING REJECTS IT? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD LOVES WITHOUT CONDITION OR RESERVATION, AND LOVES YOU THIS MOMENT AS YOU ARE AND NOT AS YOU SHOULD BE?”

I read and reread these two sentences and marvel at how each time I do, they touch me so deeply and point out something I should know but have long ago forgotten or dismissed. They tell me that God loves me, and reflecting on that only makes me realize that I don’t agree with God. I don’t love myself. If I don’t love myself, why would anyone else?

People who are around the old covenant too much don’t love themselves. They are steeped in guilt and trying to make up their personal deficits in relationship to the law by bringing everyone else down to their low level. So they don’t love themselves, and they don’t love anyone else either.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about selfishness. Being selfish and loving oneself are two different things. You can be selfish beyond description, but not love yourself. Selfishness is a kind of twisted self love.

If I loved myself, I would love my neighbor. If I loved myself, I would love God. If I loved myself, I would have something to offer the world. If I loved myself, I wouldn’t “should” on myself, as Brennan used to say, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself today.” The old covenant beats you down. The new covenant lifts you up.

Maybe Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because He wanted us to discover we don’t love ourselves and we better start there.

Here’s what I’m going to do, and I suggest you do it too, I’m going to like me. I’m going to like the skin I’m in. I’m not going to feel guilty about being alive. I’m going to realize I do God a disservice when I disagree with Him about me. I do God a disservice when I make myself small. He made me to stand tall — to go face to face with humanity because I have something to bring. I have nothing to prove and everything to give because of what He has given me. Nothing to prove because He already loves me. And since He already loves me, I don’t have to spend anymore time on myself. I can be happy with myself and get on to loving others.

One last story about Brennan Manning. My fondest memory of him was at a Christian rock festival in New England where he was on the main stage speaking to about 8,000 people. Near the end of his talk, he wanted to play a song for everyone, so he sat on the edge of the stage and held the microphone up to the speakers of his boom box and played “To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe…”

Picture it in you mind: a huge outdoor stage … banks and banks of speakers … up the hill is a sophisticated sound board that can turn anything you hook up to it into quality, and here is this little white-haired man with black bushy eyebrows sitting on the stage in jeans and a shirt that looked like his grandmother’s quilt holding the microphone up to the scratchy little tin-sounding speakers on his boom box, playing “The Impossible Dream” to 8,000 people through a hundred thousand dollar sound system, because that’s what he wanted to do.

That’s the picture of a man who is comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t care about what you’re supposed to do.

And do you know how he ended that talk? He ended it by saying, as forcefully as he could possibly say it, with his voice getting louder and stronger as it went on, “DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GOD OF JESUS LOVES YOU BEYOND WORTHINESS AND UNWORTHINESS, BEYOND FIDELITY AND INFIDELITY, THAT HE LOVES YOU IN THE MORNING SUN AND THE EVENING RAIN, THAT HE LOVES YOU WHEN YOUR INTELLECT DENIES IT, YOUR EMOTIONS REFUSE IT, YOUR WHOLE BEING REJECTS IT? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD LOVES WITHOUT CONDITION OR RESERVATION, AND LOVES YOU THIS MOMENT AS YOU ARE AND NOT AS YOU SHOULD BE?”

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7 Responses to If I loved myself

  1. tom frodsham says:

    I love where you’re going with this “New Covenant” This message could change the world.
    On the subject of loving yourself, I wrote a song years ago. I thought I might share it with you.
    Learning to Love Yourself
    Intro G / / / |D / / / |A / / / |D / / /| / / / / |
    CHORUS
    D D
    Learning to love your-self, learning to love yourself.
    G D A D
    How can you hope to love any other, until you can love your-self.
    Verse 1
    G A G E
    You beat yourself up, and you put yourself down, and you call it humility.
    G A G A /// |/ / / / |
    You must learn to build yourself up, and fulfill your destiny. (you gotta be)
    CHORUS
    D D
    Learning to love your-self, learning to love yourself.
    G D A D
    How can you hope to love any other, until you can love your-self.
    Verse 2
    G A G E
    Look into the mirror, I’ll tell you what you see;
    G A G A /// |//// |
    The God who created heaven and earth, created you to be;
    Bm G D
    Bridge – Little less than Angels in the heavens flying free,
    Bm G D
    He has placed all of creation under your feet,
    Bm E Bm E
    He’s given farmlands & mountain tops, birds of the air & and beasts of the field.
    Bm E A / / / | / brk |
    The sun and the moon and the fish of the seven seas. (don’t ya know)
    Learning to Love Yourself – PAGE 2
    CHORUS
    D D
    God has made you Himself, God has made you Himself.
    G D A D
    How can you help but love His creation? How can you but love yourself?
    D D
    Learning to love your-self, learning to love yourself.
    rit. G D
    Only then does it make sense, to do unto others………
    A D
    As you’d have done to yourself!

    OUTRO
    G / / / | D / / / | A / / / | D A D / |

    Thank You John for your inspired ministry.
    tom

  2. Krabbenhoft, Kevin C says:

    Brother John,

    Let’s just camp out on this topic… I will bring the wood and the marshmallows !

    It is no coincidence that I came across this testimony of how God rejoices over us on the same day I read “So easy, it’s hard”.
    Note that she describes her revelation of God’s grace as ‘a standard’ that needs to be upheld.

    “we don’t understand how desperately Jesus wants to be close to us”
    “That was moment when I really believed he REALLY is crazy about me, He made me special for him, He is happy with me, He is pleased with me… I am to love Him and let Him love me”

    In this ten minute testimony we also hear Gods loving and endearing response to these two questions.
    “How much do you love me Jesus ?”
    “What were you thinking when you created me Jesus ?”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCMVfCfVfIo

    Kevin Krabbenhoft
    Toolbox Operations and Data Analyst
    253-205-7154

  3. Andrew P. says:

    Love the way you put this: “People who are around the old covenant too much don’t love themselves.”

    Two insights I had some years ago have helped me, both in dealing with myself and in dealing with staunch legalists (with whom I naturally want to get angry and dismissive).

    1. If you don’t love yourself, loving others as you love yourself won’t be very pretty. (Basically what you said that I quoted above.)

    2. You cannot give what you have not received. Those who haven’t truly received something from God – most fundamentally, forgiveness and acceptance – don’t have any to give to others.

    Until we get a legalist to realize what he has received from God, until we get him to spend less time around the old covenant (not to be confused with those pages between the covers called the “Old Testament”), he will never dwell in the peace that passes understanding. Pity, that.

  4. A rather legalistic person once pointed an accusatory finger at me and said that very thing: “you can’t love others until you love yourself!” Considering I was at a really low point in my life, the idea of loving myself might as well have been rocket science. How could I be any use to others and to God?

    I believe that “love yourself before you can love others” is one of those roadblocks the enemy puts in our paths to get us so hung up on our own situation that we don’t see the love Jesus has for us. If we wait until our personal opinion of ourselves improves, we’d never get anything done.

    I read “love your neighbor as yourself” like this: “love your neighbor as you yourself are loved by God.” That gets our eyes off ourselves and onto God and onto others. When we think of it that way, we start contemplating what Jesus did for us and the size of the love God has for us. We get even an inkling of the fact that our own personal opinion of ourselves at a particular point in time doesn’t make one iota of difference when it comes to the opinion God has of us.

    Coming to that realization takes time, and in our microwave society, we often lose patience. But if we keep our souls and bodies active by concentrating on loving others unconditionally, we find sooner or later that others are loving us back. Reaching out and reaching up is much preferable to wondering whether you’re worthy of your own love.

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