“I’m worn out,” my friend said with a weary complaint. A blue headband pulled limp hair from her face. She had that the-last-thing-I-have-time-to-do-is-fix-my-hair look that fashion models avoid like the plague.
She looked adorable, real, and very tired. She was dressed in the weariness of trying to keep it all together–the kids, the home, the job, the laundry, the appointments. And all with a husband deployed.
I know this kind of tired–the kind where we feel pressure to do this… and that… and everything else. The kind where we forget that we matter. Exhaustion comes when there’s no white space on our calendars and no breathing space for our souls.
God’s word to the exhausted one.
When weariness seeps into our bones, we need to remember these simple commands.
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Maybe your thinking, “Seriously, she didn’t just write that. When I’m totally wrung out, the last thing I want to think about is doing anything with all my mind and strength. And the very last thing I have energy to do is love the people who are making me so tired.”
Note to self–that’s not what God says. There’s a world of difference between as yourself and instead of yourself.
When you’re clinging to the edge of sanity by a fingernail, it’s okay to love yourself.
It’s okay to take care of yourself.
It’s okay to give yourself a break.
It’s okay to ask for help.
It’s okay to stop being so hard on yourself.
It’s okay to love yourself and care for your soul.
In our crazy, mixed-up culture we often see those who love nothing but themselves. For sure, there’s no shortage of pride, arrogance, and egotism in today’s world. This isn’t what God means by as yourself.
This as yourself love isn’t selfish or self-indulgent. It’s not wrong or sinful.
Our churches emphasize loving God and loving others. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard a sermon on the importance of loving yourself. Have you?
Why is that?
Or are we simply so busy, it’s last thing we have time to think about?
Writing these words, I feel like a renegade–a religious rebel. Like someones’s going to bang on my door and haul me away.
But here it is, right in the two greatest commands…”love your neighbor as yourself.”
And it’s been right there since Moses walked down the mountain with two stone tablets thousands of years ago.
No matter how many times I read this passage, it’s still there. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If Jesus said it, it’s true.
It’s time to stop arguing with God on this one.
Isn’t it time to stop leaving ourselves out of the equation?
The more fully we grasp the wonder of God’s love, the more we love Him. And the more we can accept and love ourselves. It’s that simple.
Looking through the lens of God’s love, we begin to see ourselves free from the condemnations, criticisms, mistakes, needs, and hurts that wage war against our souls.
When self-concept is anchored in performance, comparison, and competition, we struggle to love and accept ourselves. Without a transforming glimpse of God’s deep love for us, we struggle to love him as well.
On our hard days, it all feels a little like Sunday school talk or fairy tale…too good to be true.
Let this truth refresh your heart today: God loves you. Yes, weary, imperfect you.
And weary, imperfect me.
When you get this–really get it–you can’t help but love God with everything you’ve got.
You’ll discover fresh reserves of love for others.
Full with the love of God, you’ll give yourself permission to rest when you’re tired, cry when you’re sad, and relax when you fail.
And you’ll know this for sure: it’s okay to love yourself.
Don’t miss the other posts in this series: