Category Archives: Loving Ourselves

Patience

Loving Ourselves Day 8-Loving Words

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

Loving Ourselves by the Words We Speak to Ourselves and Others.

Today we focus for the final time on loving ourselves God’s way.  So as we prepare to concentrate on loving others the next eight days, I think the best use of today is looking at how we can love ourselves by reflecting on our words.

We want to speak to ourselves in our inner dialogues in positive and affirming ways.

We want to speak to others in similar ways, whenever possible.  This method of communication reflects our love for OURSELVES because we often end up eating our own words!

Have you ever had to do that?

Have they been as sour as a lemon?

I was struck today in reading Proverbs 18 that there were several references to fruit and how we eat what we SAY.

Solomon says in Proverbs 18: 20 that “a man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.”  He goes on to say in the next verse that “death and life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

It was quite interesting to read the origins of the phrase “eat your words.”  Did you know that the phrase was first introduced by John Calvin in 1571 in a tract on Psalm 62?  “God eateth not his words when he hath once spoken.”  So if God is the only one who doesn’t have to eat words, doesn’t it make sense to look at His guidance on our own?

It’s amazing to think about the power of mere words to lift up or cut down.  Words can be bitter or sweet.

What would you rather taste?

What would be easiest to digest?

Think about this before you speak or judge.

The damage you do to YOURSELF by your words may not be worth the temporary satisfaction we may derive from cutting down another in a “human” moment of anger or rush to judgment.

So we love ourselves by realizing that our words may come back to us!

You may have seen a well-know individual recently have to eat words publicly.  Oh the discomfort and regret!

But we all have “tapes” or “transcripts” in our OWN history that would be unequally uncomfortable to watch and have shown to the world.  I have many of my own.

And one day we’ll be going over our own tapes and transcripts with God.

I don’t want to add any more to mine-even though they will all be blotted out.

Bitter or sweet-

Love yourself by praying for sweet words, or, if that is impossible, wise words or silence.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Loving Ourselves Day 7-Catch a Fresh Vision for Your Life,

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Ourselves By Catching A Fresh Vision

As we have examined loving God, and moved on to examining loving ourselves as God intended, I’ve emphasized that the reason we think about loving ourselves is so that we know how to love others.

Today I want to introduce the concept of loving yourself by having a vision for yourself and where you are going.

For me, I am challenged when it comes to getting places.  I have a poor sense of geographical direction.  If it’s possible to make a wrong turn or get off at a wrong exit, I’ll do it.  One of the most loving things I can do for myself is to have good directions before I go somewhere unfamiliar.  Sometimes, even with the best of directions, I will still get lost. Being lost somewhere unfamiliar is something that really provokes big-time anxiety for me.

I often neglect to pray in those moments.  Actually, I am probably saying things that are the very opposite of prayers. (Just being real).

I’d be much better served to stop, pull off the road somewhere safe and re-orient by consulting the GPS or calling my destination for directions.

Have you ever been “lost” in your own life?  You thought you were going somewhere and you encountered an unanticipated roadblock or a detour and somehow the turn-by-turn directions you had are useless?  What have you done in those moments?  Have you reacted with trying every “human” response you could think of?  Deciding that “I’m going to this,” or “I’m going to say that,” rather than stopping somewhere safe to re-orient and consult God?

In this post, I discussed that part of loving God means putting him ahead of our plans for ourselves.This does not mean, however, that we are aimless and unfocused in our lives.  Instead, we are called to have a vision of our lives.  You are probably familiar with the Proverb that says “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18.  We also encounter David praying, “Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.” Psalm 25:4.  He was feeling lost and longing to be shown the way. We are not without direction.  In Christ, we know our ultimate destination is eternal life with Him.  It is a matter of bridging that path between eternity and earth.  It’s a short span of time in God’s timetable of history but it’s a lifetime to us.

What I’d encourage you to do today is to stop where you are-whether you think you are in the middle of God’s will or in the midst of a life altering storm-and commit your path to God.

If you are here reading, I am convinced you are here reading for a reason!  God is moving you forward!

God is moving you THROUGH something TO something great!

Love yourself enough to commit your plans to God and be willing to see the new and different blessings He has for you in the coming year.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19

Catch a vision for what God is going to do in your life as you cultivate the fruit of the spirit!

Loving Ourselves-Day 6-Let It Go!

Loving Ourselves by Letting Go

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Ourselves Because We Are Temples!

Yesterday, we were working through some practical applications of how we can love ourselves by taking care of our bodies, being mindful that they are temples of God’s Holy Spirit and for that reason (among others) we owe it to God to maintain a temple worthy of His work.

Physical Manifestations of Inner Conflicts

Yesteraday, I asked you to think about how your body feels when you are verging on being depleted.  How would that manifest itself physically in your particular body?

For me, tension is one sign.  Maybe you’ve felt it.  It’s kind of a clenching, tight tension that resides in my muscles and results in stiffness and pain.  Your senses are heightened and on-guard.  Anxiety often accompanies this feeling for me.  If I am really worried about something, I might wake up in the morning with the feeling that I have a toothache.  It is never actually a toothache—it’s the result of me grinding my jaw at night-which I know means that I have not let go of the tension even as I sleep.

Loving Ourselves By Getting the Occasional Massage

When I’ve had time and resources, I have found massages to be such a blessing in the relief of stress and tension. My tension is usually so deep that I benefit most during a deep tissue massage.  One thing you learn when you are getting a massage is the importance of breathing deeply and “letting go” of the tension.  If I have trouble with this, often the practitioner will tell you to “let it go.”  Once she finds the “spot” and the muscle loosens with one of those painfully wonderful popping spasms, it’s such a relief.  And I know that my own thoughts put the painful knot there in the first place.

Loving Ourselves by Moving, Stretching, Climbing and Walking.

Short of a massage, frequent walks and stretching tend to help me release tension and are simple and easy to do.  If you have stairs in your home or office, put on some headphones and walk up and down the stair for 10 minutes.  A quick burst of exercise can help you calm down.

Loving Ourselves By Stopping the Fight!

Stop fighting the release of your tension. What is there that you need to release your chokehold on?  Are you wrestling with someone or something that simply needs to be released to God’s care and control?  We will be doing ourselves such an immense favor if we just put forth a prayer that God will take over the issue or individual we’ve been striving over and repeat to yourself, “God’s got it, God’s got it. God’s got it.”  That does not mean that we abandon the person or cause, but perhaps take a step (or many steps) back.

Loving ourselves means directing our limited energy and resources to living out God’s will in our lives and not trying to BE God to a person or situation.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Loving Ourselves Day 5-Our Temple of the Holy Spirit

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Ourselves Means Taking Care of Our Bodies

As I indicated  yesterday, I want to provide some practical tips that we can use to take care of our bodies and minds-because in caring for ourselves we care for the temple of the Holy Spirit..the very source of the fruit of the spirit.  From my rather limited knowledge of what makes a popular blog post, I know that people want “tips” or “hacks.”    Readers want to be given steps to take or a path to travel to accomplish their goal.

I am not writing a “health and wellness” blog-it’s not my calling or expertise.  And, anyway, who among you doesn’t know that we are supposed to eat right, drink lots of water, not smoke, sleep enough, exercise and minimize stress.  You probably are falling short in at least one or maybe all of those areas.  It’s called real life.  So none of my “tips” involve these things.  You don’t need another voice telling you to work on those things.  You know what you should be doing and I pray God helps strengthen you and your motivation towards a healthier life.

I only have two tips for you and they are things that have worked for me when I do them consistently.

1.  Try to project your best physical appearance daily.  This does not mean expensive clothes, cosmetic surgery, vanity or obsession with your appearance.  It just means doing the best you can with what you’ve got each day.  If we project outwardly what we’d like to feel inwardly we will often be surprised at the results.  How inviting is our outward “temple?”  Neglecting ourselves outwardly often means that we don’t feel like worthy people or that we don’t want others to approach us.  Value yourself enough to care for your outward appearance.

2.  Identify how your body starts to feel when you are emotionally, physically or spiritually depleted.  Do you start having frequent headaches, digestive problems, racing pulse or physical pain?  Ask God to show you how you can avoid being depleted in the future. Imagine your car’s gas tank.  Has your low fuel light ever come on?  Have you wondered how low it could get before it was actually empty?  Most cars now have a gauge that shows you digitally how many miles you have left to empty.  But have you noticed that often these digital gauges say you have 45 miles left and then, one minute later it says you have 5 miles left?  Then you wonder if it’s accurate at all and you sweat until you can pull into the nearest gas station.  Then you end up with few choices on where to fill up and end up paying too much.  And, usually it was all quite unnecessary.  You avoided refueling because you were too busy or it didn’t seem that important at the time,  In caring for your temple-your body-think about your inner “low fuel” light.  When you start feeling depleted do you take care of it quickly or wait until the last mile?  Or maybe you just sputter and make a hard stop and end up hospitalized or seriously ill.  When you know you are below a quarter tank, take the time to fill up-whether your fuel is lying down in some green pastures and relaxing, eating some fruit, drinking some water, calling a friend or saying a quick prayer.

Your physical body is God’s vehicle for carrying out His will for your life.  Take care of it and present it well for His glory.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Loving Ourselves Through Humility-Day 4

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

As we’ve been contrasting the world’s concept of self-esteem with God’s vision for how we are to value ourselves, we’ve seen that authentic self-love is rooted in our dependence on God.

Loving Ourselves by Being Humble

The world’s concept of self-esteem does not have a lot of room for humility.  Humility involves acknowledging our submission and dependence on God and internalizing the truth that it’s only through Him that we accomplish and gain anything.

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor and life.”  Proverbs 22:4

Compare this with what we hear continually in the world–that we must “toot our own horns,” “brand ourselves,” be fiercely competitive in order to succeed and make sure everyone knows your value.  These notions are inconsistent with what we read in Romans 7:18 where Paul writes that “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh)…dwelleth no good thing.”  So, to the extent that we are walking (or swaggering) in our own “humanness,” we’re kidding ourselves if we think we are self-made, untouchable or immune from loss.

“But wait a minute,” you might be saying…”this week we are supposed to be loving ourselves.  Doesn’t this mean feeling good about ourselves?  You’ve just said I’m no good on my own. Why should I even try?”

To make you feel better, I’m not going to ask you to look within yourself to the depths of your being and repeat affirmations about how great you are.

Instead, this is where we really dig deep.

Can you see the relief from stress and worry that comes with humility?  Can you feel unburdened by embracing humility?

If we are humble, we can be more content with less and more grateful for what we have.

Loving Ourselves Means Putting God Ahead of Our Plans

We continue to make our plans, strive for excellence in all we do and work hard, but we are able to put God ahead of our plans and be able to honestly say that we will accept His direction-even if it’s to a destination we did not choose.

In this economy, many people with degrees and years of experience have struggled with employment.  Maybe they were a Senior Vice President at a bank.  But the bank was closed, sold or merged with another.  Now that same person might be working as a bank teller.  If I am the kind of person who defined my worth through my job, I would have a difficult time accepting the lower status and lower pay.  But if I am humble, I can thank God for the job as a bank teller and perform the job with excellence until there is an opportunity to advance.

We love ourselves because of our identity in Christ and are willing to deflect praise from ourselves and point to Him as the source of everything in our lives.  Loving ourselves is telling ourselves “God’s got me” no matter what the circumstances.  Christ’s presence in our lives is the source of our self-love.

For the remainder of the week, I hope to provide some practical tips that we can use to take care of our bodies and minds-because in caring for ourselves we care for the temple of the Holy Spirit..the very source of the fruit of the spirit.

Loving Ourselves Because God Loves Us

For today know that God loves you and it is for that reason you have value beyond measure-whether sick or healthy, rich or poor, dejected or satisfied.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Loving Ourselves-Day 3

 

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Ourselves-Limits on Ourselves

Yesterday,we looked at the world’s concept of “self-esteem” and contrasted it with God’s concept of loving ourselves.

God’s desire is that we recognize both our value to Him and our relative weakness if we are acting in our own strength.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Romans 12:3

Putting ourselves in proper perspective means recognizing our limited power when compared with God’s.  The more faith we have in God, the more we realize that our power comes not from our humanity but from our Creator. This is one aspect of loving ourselves.

Think of an ant colony from the perspective of an ant.  They apply such concentrated and singular efforts to their roles within the colony-most are workers or soldiers.  But they exist in their own mini universes and governmental systems-also created by God.

When we think of ants and their colonies from a human perspective they are tiny-we can kill them by stepping on them or poisoning them.  They are vulnerable, yet they are oblivious to it. They carry on their lives with limited perspective on how something bigger and more powerful could wipe them out in a second.  We seem so big and powerful when compared with them.

But here on earth we too are vulnerable and fragile. Unlike the ant, we have the capacity to know our vulnerability.  Some of us are more keenly aware of this than others.

Maybe you’ve battled cancer or fought your way back from a life-altering injury or accident.  You appreciate your fragility.

Or maybe you think you are indestructible   Many younger people think of themselves in this way and behave recklessly-sometimes with tragic results.

Think back to a time when you realized your limits as a human.  How did that feel?

Loving Ourselves By Knowing Our Limits

As a personal example, I remember one summer day at the beach during my childhood. I was probably 10 or 11 years old.  I had overcome fear of the water and knew how to swim.  One of my favorite things to do (which I still enjoy to this day) was taking a float out in the water and drifting along. Going out far enough where the water isn’t choppy, but smooth and soothing.  That summer day as a kid I had found such a spot.  The gulf was warm and calm. But there was an undertow that day.  And my parents were watching from the shore.  They may have been chatting, reading or might have closed their eyes for a moment.  And of course they’d issued the prior warning not to go out too far.

It seemed as if one minute I was happy and oblivious on my float and the next minute I saw my dad waving at me to come in.  He was kind of hard to see.  He looked like a little dot.  I paddled and kicked on the rubber raft, but didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Then it seemed like one minute later, my dad was there grabbing the rope on my raft and pulling me in.  It was not a happy joyride.  The thing I remember most is that when we got back on the beach my dad made a point of telling me how little, puny and powerless I was against that undertow.    He had no regard whatsoever at that moment for my self-esteem.  It was much more important at that point for me to humbly realize my weakness and vulnerability. It obviously made an impression and after that day I was always conscious of my distance from shore and the strength of the current.

Again-where is balance to be found?

Delicately, prayerfully & soberly.

Recognizing both our value and vulnerability.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Fruitful Days

Fruitful Days

 

Loving Ourselves-Day 2-Is it “Self-Esteem?”

Loving Ourselves

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Is loving ourselves the same thing as self-esteem?

As we spend the next several days considering how we can love ourselves in order to know how and be able to love others, I think it’s necessary to address the concept of “self-esteem.”  Much controversy swells around self-esteem.  Some argue that today’s kids are not taught tough lessons involving winning and losing out of fear of damaging their self-esteem.  Perhaps we know people with inflated opinions of themselves who could benefit from some humility.  Heck, anyone with a live internet connection and a reasonable command of the English language can start a blog and give opinions or “tips” when they really don’t know what they are talking about. (I say…looking at myself in the mirror as I type).

It seems many humans are prone to being self-centered and thinking they are better, smarter, tougher and superior to others.  But it also seems as if many humans value themselves very little.  They have very limited confidence in themselves.  They think they are less than others.  They’ve internalized messages they may have gotten that shook their faith in their ability to excel. They’ve pulled back.  Or they may pour so much energy into serving others that they nearly collapse from emotional, spiritual and physical exhaustion.

Neither extreme is good.

God’s perspective on loving ourselves

For the next few days we’ll look at what the bible says about humans to check our perspective on loving ourselves.

The very first verse I though of when considering this topic is Hebrews 2:7 which says that God made us “a little lower than the angels” and has crowned us with “glory and honor.”

To me this little bit of scripture packs a big punch!

First it acknowledges that God made us.  This is fundamental.  We are not some cosmic “accident.”  (Even if our parents weren’t expecting us!) So we have life given from God.

Second, it tells us that we are “a little lower than the angels.”  We are not Heavenly beings.  We are a rank below.  Again-a conscious decision on the part of God.  The fundamental roles of angels are to worship God, serve God and act as messengers from God.  Humans have earthly cares and troubles so perhaps it makes sense to see God’s creation of beings that might go between Heaven and Earth.

Third, God has crowned us with glory and honor above other creatures on earth.  We are caretakers of God’s creation and use its resources for our physical sustenance   The life of a human has greater value to God than that of a blade of grass, a dog or mountain lion.

God established a hierarchy.  He gave the world to us.  He gave His Son for us.

This should demonstrate to you that you should esteem yourself worthy of these gifts- you were bought with a huge price-not “chump change.”  Yet, our existence from one day to the next depends on God’s grace.  This should humble us and at times make us tremble.

Pray that God will adjust your self-esteem thermostat and will “set” you where you need to be so that you are better able to reflect God’s love to others.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of Love-Loving Ourselves To Know How to Love Others-Day 1

Loving God & Your Neighbor As Yourself

Day One

Check Yourself

Love Ourselves

Hymn: “Let Earth and Heaven Combine”
Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Today we expand our study of the spiritual fruit of Love from loving God to the realm of loving others as we do ourselves.  As we know, the command to love God was first given in the old testament-and here expanded upon by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  We will plan to camp on this scripture for about sixteen days as we look at the human side of love-loving neighbors as ourselves.

When looking at this passage, and what we’ve studied for the last week, I note how there is a hierarchy here.  We are first commanded to love God fully.  And only then are we capable of loving selflessly as we love ourselves.

But what if you have never really loved yourself?  Or what if you feel dejected and unworthy of love at this particular point in your life?

It’s my intention to spend the next 8 days looking at how we are to love ourselves to check our balance before proceeding to love of others.  When the relationship is right between myself and God, I am more of an unblocked channel for loving others.

The best way I can describe how this works is what we’re told during emergency preparation training on airplanes.  (Are you listening, or have you tuned out?)  You are told to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.  If you are in distress and gasping for air, how can you be helpful to anyone else.  Let’s spend the next week getting our masks on.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 35:7.

All the best in 2013,
Julie