Whenever I heard the word ‘self-love,’ it made me cringe as I immediately thought of ‘selfishness’. I was pretty sure this was not the Christian way. In my mind, self-love and selfishness were the same thing.
But as I pressed into my journey to wholeness — physically, emotionally and spiritually — the idea of needing to love yourself kept coming up. I wasn’t sure how Biblical this was but thought I needed to find out if it was or wasn’t.
It seemed that to heal from past issues and recent traumas that constantly triggered me, I was being pointed in the direction of ‘self-love’.
What was I getting myself into? And how did this fit with the verse, “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow after me?”
Jesus shed His blood on the cross to save the world and it started to feel like I was doing the same thing, making personal sacrifices for others. But were these the sacrifices that God was asking me to make? Was I being motivated by love or guilt?
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and shed His blood for the world. We do not need to shed our blood on a physical level, push ourselves beyond our limits and do the things that we feel no one else will do.
If we are not doing things from the right motivation, it will only cause us emotional, physical and spiritual harm.
One of the big traps that we fall into is “I have to do it or no one else will.” As women, we must begin to tear down the lie that no one else will do it.
I have also fallen into the trap of comparing myself to other women. Each one of us is unique. We have different circumstances, different personalities, different skills and different interests. God’s got things for you to do but that doesn’t mean doing everything.
We need to learn when we are giving out of guilt or compulsion. Some of the signs that we are doing it for the wrong reasons are feelings of anger and resentment.
We all make personal sacrifices for our family and loved ones but we must draw the line and create boundaries that will keep us in a place of fullness where we can rejuvenate and be refreshed by the Holy Spirit.
We want to give from a place of wholeness that requires us knowing when to say ‘yes’ and more importantly when to say ‘no.’
We are not a robot and God does not want robots. The Lord wants to attract and draw people into our lives because they see life teeming within us. Our joy, peace and rest will draw people into the river of God because of what they are witnessing in our lives.
Is this what Jesus meant when He said;
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
The sacrifice that Christ made was from the love He had for mankind. Jesus was not forced to go to the cross. The Heavenly Father did not coerce or bribe him. It was a pure act of love that motivated Christ to make the ultimate sacrifice.
I love the Psalmist’s picture of the hind (deer) climbing up a mountain. She had within her the strength to say ‘no’ and leap over the obstacles (logs) that hindered her journey. She had the wisdom to say ‘yes’ and stop to take a drink of water and walk through the streams that refreshed her on the upward journey to the top of her mountain.
And when she reached the pinnacle, she has the strength to move effortlessly into the forest (the promises of God) that lay before her:
“He makes me surefooted as a deer and, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.” (Psalm 18: 33-34)