As part of the recent training (SPLICE) I went through they asked us to write our joys and thanksgivings everyday (which as a side note, I highly recommend) and during that time God placed an observation on my heart. I wrote the following in my journal:
Before SPLICE I would say that I have an addictive behavior. I would say that my addictions were caused by something inside of me that I cannot control. I could not do anything about them because my genetics determined that I get addicted easily. My addiction to food was because of genetics; my later addiction to exercise was because of genetics; all of my addictions were because of genetics and not because of anything else. I didn’t want to admit that it could be anything else. During SPLICE God opened my eyes. Through godly insight from others I have come to realize that it has nothing to do with genetics and it has everything to do with idolatry. I grab onto the thought of marriage or the taste of food or even exercise to fulfill me since I don’t always love myself. I need to shift my focus to God and search for love there and love myself because he first loved me. I have never loved myself fully and I have been searching for love from people and things and no matter how great people or the things make me feel for a short time they never can make me feel loved until I love myself.
Whenever I would read the commandment about not having any other idols before God, I always felt pretty good about myself in that sense. I never had a wooden idol or image of another god that I would bow down and worship. Man, was I wrong. I was worshiping so many things and Satan was hiding it so well from me that I never really had a clue. I never realized that I was idolizing marriage, or the way food or exercise made me feel.
I was clueless, but no more. It is my full intention to seek for love from God alone. When I do anything for myself or for others, I will look at motives and if they include the word I at all, then I will pause, pray and ask God for the right motives. Not only will this allow me to live a more healthy life, but also a life that will have more of an impact on others for His sake, not mine.
If I recognize His love for me, then I can love myself and if I love myself then I can truly love others.
This Sunday at church we were talking about loving others and the pastor used a verse that I have heard a ridiculous amount of times in my life, as I am sure most of you have too. In Mark 12:31 Jesus says, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Throughout my life I have dealt with self-esteem issues, so depending on the day when I have heard that verse I may or may not have felt like I loved myself. I can literally remember thinking to myself at some point in the past, “I don’t love myself, so I’ve got this commandment down pat! I don’t even need to worry about it.” The days that I think that though are not my best days. Most of those are behind me, but I never really felt like I struggled with this verse even on my best days.
My best days I look at this verse and think that I’m a nice guy, I love others as much as myself all the time and the other days I don’t feel like I need to love people hardly at all since my love for myself isn’t that great, but this Sunday I felt God put a different thought in my head. I felt like God was telling me that even in my worst days I still love myself way more than I love others.
On my worst days, the days I feel the lowest, the days I feel like I like myself the least I still:
- Wake up and take a shower
- Feed myself
- Clothe myself
- Entertain myself
On my best days of loving others do I:
- Help others get clean?
- Feed others?
- Clothe others?
- Make others smile?
If on my worst days of loving myself I do way more for me than I love others on my best days, what more could I be doing on a daily basis?
I want to leave you with the challenge that I have been dealing with since Sunday.
How can we show our love to strangers, to those we wish we didn’t have to deal with, and to the ones we love? All three are challenges, but all three are necessary.
I’m staying with my good friends while doing a MPD trip in Maryland. These friends happen to be married and have a 15ish month old son. I have been watching my friend Nick and his utter joy with his son. Last night I could hear Nick giving his son a bath and the giggles coming from the other room made me smile, but then watching Nick and his son play and interact with each other has been incredible. You can see the love that he has for his son, it is evident in every thing that he does. I am not a father right now, but I hope to be one day and I can learn a lot from my Nick. As a non-father it is hard to imagine the amount of love that can pour out for another human, but I can see that it can happen and it is impressive.
What I have been realizing though through my observances of Nick and his son is that what I am seeing is just a small glimpse into the relationship that God has with his sons and daughters, you and I. First off He created us to be in a relationship with Him, not just exist. Then He created a perfect place for us to live, which we screwed up. Countless times we, as humans, have screwed up and yet God has still made a way for us to be in communion with Him. Just like Nick will choose to forgive his son when his son messes up and continue to provide for him, so has God forgiven us way more times than I care to think about.
I am excited to be a father someday, if that’s in the cards for me, so I can show the same kind of love for my child that God has shown for me and you. Nick has shown me some good tips to follow! He is a good example and I am proud to have him as an example in my life.