Happy Valentine’s Day to Me
This past weekend while waiting in line at a grocery store, a lady reached past me to grab a fresh bouquet of flowers which were displayed at the checkout for Valentine’s Day. She leaned toward me conspiratorially and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day to me!” with a playful smile. It got me thinking about self-love. We hear the phrase, “Be kind to yourself” a lot these days. But there is a profound truth there. As Christian circles, “self” has a negative connotation. Sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others is not a validation for self-rejection. My spiritual life was revolutionized when I realized that self-rejection is the same as refusing to receive the love of God.
I’ve been told that I’m too hard on myself more times than I can count. And it’s true – as a recovering perfectionist, often the hardest person to accept, love and forgive is myself. It’s a reflex for me to put myself down when I make a mistake. I still catch myself doing it. Unfortunately, I brought this unhealthy mindset into my faith journey without realizing it. I simply relabeled them in ‘Christian’ terms. For instance, spiritual growth became “fixing myself”. But perfectionism doesn’t belong in the Christian life. It keeps us from receiving the love of God by always moving the bar, urging us to strive to earn God’s approval by our performance. It is the opposite of faith, which trusts that we already have God’s love and approval before we ever do a thing for God. Ironically, loving ourselves puts God first, versus perfectionism which puts the ‘self’ above God.
For God’s Sake
Like so many young teenagers, I struggled with self-rejection, and there are still echoes of it in my life. Sometimes self-rejection can be subtle, like de-valuing certain parts of our personality, or comparing ourselves with others and giving ourselves a failing grade. But my own personal breakthrough came when I realized that loving myself wasn’t just for my sake. If God created me, loves me and considers me worth dying for, then my self-rejection hurts Him. It is the opposite of humility to call what God created “worthless”. So I work at aligning my thoughts with what God says about me, loving myself out of love for God. This is how I honour God and the sacrifice He made for me.
For Everyone’s Sake
If loving God isn’t reason enough, Jesus also said to “love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). How can love flow out of me if I am filled with self-rejection? For the sake of my children, and all the other people in my life, I will continue to embrace the love of God. Thankfully, His love is greater than my flaws. Even when I can’t do it for only myself, I will continue to reject self-rejection, and choose compassion toward myself. I know that as I receive God’s love, it will overflow to others.