Like first, then love

Why would I want to love myself when liking myself is the challenge.  For decades now we have been persuaded to love ourselves. According to our self help society, we must prioritize ourselves, recite copious affirmation, take long baths and sleep more.
Perhaps loving ourselves includes the aforementioned self care plus a few others? But in an effort to love ourselves it may accomplish nothing if we first don’t like ourselves.
And that’s hard to do.
Why? Because our standard or benchmark of who and what to like is most often — others! I invested two wonderful hours with a client recently helping her unhitch herself from lifelong comparisons and critiques, as she gazed at herself in the mirror for the first time in decades and said, “I like the way I look”.
We are often our own worst critic. According to Merriam that means we are…
a person who judges the merits of literary, artistic or musical works AND a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something
Whether we are being judged or acting as the judge – we know it is an unwelcome atmosphere to live in.
Liking ourselves is having a truthful view of ourselves. It is understanding our strengths AND knowing our weaknesses, and not looking to others for a solution.
Instead, we want to look to God for our identity. To a place that offers solutions and answers. To see or recapture a view of ourselves that we like. If we minimize or denigrate ourselves, OR we encourage our  narcissistic side — either one – we are judging our self worth through comparisons.
For we dare not to classify or to compare ourselves with some commending themselves. But these, measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves, do not understand. 2 Co 10:12
It’s hard to like ourselves when we compare ourselves to others. If we disparage ourselves, we are in turn disparaging God’s creation. If we criticize others, we are criticizing ourselves in turn, and it’s hard to like ourselves when our critical voice is loud and obnoxious.
Therefore, it’s time to just like ourselves – neither thinking we are too great, nor too lowly, but rather enough to do the work set before us.
Liking must come first – then we can place our love appropriately – with God first and then with others — all the while liking ourselves enough to fulfill our vocation, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [y]our God (Micah 6:8b).

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