The “Great Commandment”

Self-loathing. It’s a term that I recently heard that describes how we feel about ourselves. If my 20 years of experience in ministry tells me anything at all, I know that at one time or another we have all done some self-loathing. We generally don’t like ourselves very well, the bar of self-expectation is very high. Most of the time, we loathe (hate) our outer appearances be it hair, weight, or something else about our looks. It can also come from something that happened to us in the past that makes us feel that way about ourselves.

I had a friend once who hated her shoulders. I know of some who wish for a different hair color (or just to have some hair!), size, or weight. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to me that self-loathing, or self-hatred is very easy to do. It could be a “voice” from our past like a critical parent who always made us feel less than. It can come from many sources and/or many people in our lives and I have wrestled with this demon myself throughout my life. I especially see this in regard to the spiritual life. No one I’ve met prays, reads their Bible, or worships like they think they should. The guilt and shame are very high. The bottom line is that we have a choice on how we are going to look at ourselves, and self-loathing should be the last thing we do or think about.

In several places in the Holy Bible we have what is called the “Great Commandment”. We are “commanded” by God this way : “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” (Mark 12:30, caps mine).
We are commanded my friends to love ourselves, love our neighbor and love God fully. That God given commandment takes precedence over anything we say or feel about ourselves. Love yourself. Lower the bar of expectation with grace over law.

It will take forgiveness and it will take a shift in the way we look at ourselves. If God loves me despite all that I think is wrong with me, maybe I should change and begin to be easier on myself and to really, really love myself. We all are so, so hard on ourselves. What would it mean to be “easy” on ourselves? Try it, you will like it! It will not always be easy, but we can do it. I’m the only one I have! I cannot change (much) about ourselves so I will begin to look through the eyes of love remembering Jesus died on the cross so that all our “self-loathing” and sin could be taken down to die with the Lord, only to rise again clean and fresh and new. Every day, every moment “die” to that self-loathing, and rise to self-love. Seems to me I should think of myself as God does and that lightens up the heaviest burden.

Peace,
Pr. Doug

dgivan@stvincent.org (email)

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something hopeful.”

-Bob Hope

“May the Lord continually bless us with Heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys..” Ps. 128:5