How to Really Love Yourself

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn’t an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal. Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let’s find out together how to really live!]

It’s probably not a surprise that when you talk about How to Really Live, God gives you ample opportunity.

Only I have been: surprised. I didn’t know I would receive a call right after writing this post from a (very) distant relative who needs to be really loved.

And I didn’t know that in the days leading up to writing about how to really love yourself, I wouldn’t: love myself.

Truly, I am more the student than the teacher. I am in the classroom of life, sitting in the back, squinting to find the answer.

How do I really love myself? How do I love the me that just yesterday crawled into her oldest child’s bed, thankful to find her awake, reading, and burrowed my face into her sleeve and cried, asking forgiveness for harsh words?

I know myself well. I present a picture to you, the world, even my family. I try to be the same person, but I know me. I know the thoughts I have, the jealousy, the anger, the selfishness that I stuff down.

(I don’t love that this is the only picture of me at my in-laws farm over the holidays)

In learning how to really love myself, I’m learning that God wants me to love myself. It’s not vanity or self-centeredness. I was created in His image. We were divinely created to glorify Him. He doesn’t stop loving us when our jeans stop fitting. He doesn’t withdraw his affection when we’re stingy with ours.

He loves you.

He wants you to love yourself.

How do you (we) really love ourselves?

Forgive Yourself

Accept Yourself

Nourish Yourself

__________________________

Forgive yourself-do it. Forgive. You. Give yourself permission to let it go. Hand it over to Him. You can’t expect others to forgive you if you can’t forgive yourself. And I’ve learned that this is on-going.

Accept yourself-stop trying to change what isn’t supposed to change. I’m all for self-transformation…becoming more like Him. But often we try to transform ourselves into someone else. This isn’t God’s plan. Accept who He made you to be. He gave you that nose, the tall frame, the funky thumb (okay, that’s mine). Change what needs to be changed (mostly inward) and accept the rest. Once we accept Him, we are transformed into a new creation.

Nurture yourself- you need community. You need friends and family. You need God’s Word, time with Him. You need worship and sustenance. Don’t starve yourself. You need to feed  yourself well-physically and spiritually.

How do you really love yourself?

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Ohhhhh, I don’t love myself. Especially lately. I definitely need to be taking better spiritual and emotional care of myself. It’s hard for me to even say that I _want_ to love myself.

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll be praying about it.

  2. 4

    Jamie says

    Ok, I am not a negative person, usually, but…. I need to disagree with this post. As well written as it is, it is just not very true to what the Christian life is meant to be. Yes, on one level I agree that we are to take care of our inner man, “Guard your heart for out of it is the well spring of life”. However, we don’t do that by focusing on ourselves. I do not find that concept anywhere in Scripture. I hear it on Oprah and from other self help gurus but not the New Testament. It has phrases such as; Deny yourself, Value others higher than yourself, Wives submit yourselves, Put off the old self, Look after the interest of others and not your own & so forth. I understand all too well the inner struggle we have as women, however, loving myself will never make me what God wants me to be – loving others is the way of the Master. One more verse, “Make every effort to add to your faith, goodness, self-control, mutual affection, love…. they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.” This is my goal – I want to effective and productive in my Christian walk.
    In Christ’s love,
    Jamie

    • 4.1

      kristen says

      Hi Jamie,
      I think you misunderstand me. This is a series-not a single post. That’s why I started with Loving God and then Loving Others. And I’ve written this for Christian women, who are already “denying themselves and taking up their cross.” I think we displease God when we hate ourselves, are racked with guilt and self-condemnation. He loves us and we should love the new work He’s done in us. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • 4.1.1

        says

        I know that, though I try to be the best Christian and servant I can be, I frequently sabotage my efforts by my negative self-opinion and self-condemnation. I refuse to forgive myself and hang on to unnecessary guilt to beat myself up. It hurts my husband to see me do it to myself and, I think, damages opportunities for ministry we might sometimes have. While I agree that “love yourself just because you should” is perhaps an unbalanced view of things, “take care of yourself, accept forgiveness etc.” is a wise thing to apply to our lives. We can never love others wholeheartedly (and accept love in return) if we despise ourselves.

        Thank you, Kristen. This is a well-timed post.

    • 4.2

      says

      Jamie,

      I understand what you’re saying, and I agree that it would not be appropriate for any Christ-follower’s main purpose to be to love him or herself. But this is not what Kristen is saying. She’s reminding us that we must view ourselves the way God views us. It does no good for the Kingdom of God when we walk around as deprived, empty, tired, and worn-out “servants.” That’s not what Christ commanded us to do.

      In fact, he also encouraged us to take care of ourselves to a certain extent:
      In Matthew 6:16-18, he commands his followers to take time during their fasting to groom themselves. Ultimately, the care they show themselves reflects better God. God wants people to see that His followers are loved and well taken care-of.
      In the Gospels, we often see Jesus retreating from the crowds in order to spend time with God and replenish his spirit.

      I think these are the things Kristen is encouraging.

  3. 5

    says

    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    This is what immediate came to my mind- ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’- He commands us not only to love others, but also ourselves. Matthew 22:36-40

  4. 7

    says

    I was going to say what Stacey said! Perhaps that is one of the main reasons we love others so poorly-we don’t even know how to love ourselves. I wrote a post yesterday about beating ourselves up and feeling defeated when we come in contact with angry, argumentative people. Toxic, abusive people in my life use to make me hate myself. They use to define me:worthless. I’m still healing, but God has brought me so far and still is!

    it sounds like this is the type of “not loving ourselves” that you are talking about. There isn’t anything in God’s Word that tells us we should feel worthless, defeated and spirit-crushed. Quite the opposite! Great post!

  5. 8

    says

    Great post–beautifully written!

    Human beings were designed to grow on a foundation of love and truth. Whenever these are missing or distorted in some way, we respond in behaviors which push God’s love and truth out of alignment. Inhibiting our ability to live in God’s design and purpose for our lives. While I agree self-consciousness is pride (Oswald Chambers)…my self-worth reflects the wholeness that comes from God. As Kristen stated, we are made in God’s image. My worth is founded in Him. When I can’t love what He exquisitely created, I am in agreement with our enemy. The accuser says we are nothing, but the blood of Christ speaks a better word (Hebrews 12:24). We were created as an image-bearer of God. It is critical that we understand that we have been created with a great purpose. Our personalties and abilities have been uniquely developed by God Himself. We don’t love ourselves in an attempt to bolster ourselves. On the contrary, we embrace our Creator by bowing low and making much of Him. If I can’t make much of the one He created–all other testimony gets lost or clouded.

  6. 9

    Kathi Johnson says

    I just read yesterday’s post, When Things Don’t Add Up. I found this quote that I hope encourages you…
    “The disciple may think he is being dragged out of his secure life into a life of absolute insecurity, but in truth he is stepping into the absolute security and safety of Jesus’ fellowship.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  7. 10

    AmberK says

    Kristen, I have a confession…sometimes I look at reading your posts as my time with Him. Your blog is convicting and in a GOOD way. In HIS way. And I end up reflecting a LOT when I read the words you type out. I think about who I am, who God wants me to be, what He expects from me and my family, are we doing enough, are we doing what He’s called us to…I mean, the list goes on and on. And I have to tell you, your blog was one of the reasons we sponsored our little guy with Compassion. When you said that you got in bed with your daughter crying for forgiveness…I felt a tiny bit of relief. I have had to do that with my son. The ugliness inside each of us doesn’t make us horrible people, it makes us human and it means that we’re all going to be asking for forgiveness more than once! And not just from Jesus. Kristen, I know you’re not perfect but I have to tell you-your blog makes you SHINE. Sometimes it puts me in a dark shadow! ha So, you keep up your good and hard work. It is paying off. And people DO see Jesus in you. You are being His hands and feet. And we see it when you are honest with us, too, in your faults. And your daughter, she saw Jesus in you when you were genuine in asking for her forgiveness. What a beautiful lesson she was taught. We’re not perfect, but when we’re not-make it right by seeking forgiveness with your whole heart. And to Love ourselves. Amen, sister.
    Hugs & Prayers,
    AmberK

    • 10.1

      kristen says

      Thank you so much for these words. I just want to be real, ya know? I don’t have it all figured out and mess up everyday. Thank God for grace … and for friends.

  8. 11

    Jamie says

    Kristen, thank you for clarifying your thoughts and I will go back and read the other posts in this series. However, as I read the posts of the women I fear we have missed the bigger problem and picture stated in the New Testament. The truth is we are already self lovers. When Jesus said to love others as you love yourself he is not commanding us to love ourselves but assumes we already do. Whenever the New Testament speaks of “self” worth it is always in connection with the Cross and what Jesus did for us. Yes, we all have abuse, regret, & destructive behavior in our lives but the question is do we go beyond those things in our lives by “self love” or do we: 1. recognize that our past is because of sin (the effects of the fall sin not just personal sin ) 2. See that we have a great Sin Defeater – Jesus. 3. Praise God and continually see Him as our deliverer from these destructive attitudes and beliefs. If we “get better” through the avenue of “self love” then we get the credit and it is usually in my experience short lived and I find myself having to repeat the process over and over. However, a better plan I have found is reminding myself daily that I was a great sinner seperated from God but now because of His Son, Jesus, I am Redeemed and adopted as child of God (Eph. 1). Ladies, I say all this in love and the hopes of edifying and building up the body of Christ.
    In Christ,
    Jamie
    .

  9. 12

    says

    I agree totally. It’s hard but we do have to love ourselves. I started a series on my blog called All About Me and my first post last week was about what my best feature is. I concentrate a lot on what my worst features are and what I want to change but not much on what my best features are. That post was completely about outward features, but the same concept applies to our inward self.

  10. 13

    says

    I just took myself and others’ off my potter’s wheel. Life got reeallllllll quiet (no more squeak squeak squeaking of me cranking that wheel around and around). Sometimes it’s so quiet I panic. My flesh is not dying as quick as I’d like it to. The first words to my child after school are no longer “how many pages in your book did you read today?” Or to my husband “didja remember to, didja do this, didja get that”. I couldn’t live up to what I was expecting them to live up to – but I nearly died trying.

  11. 14

    says

    This is a wonderful post. We can’t show God’s love and light to others if we don’t believe it (and live it) for ourselves. Mama’s gotta be happy in order to be the best mama. Wife has gotta be happy in order to be the best wife. Employee has gotta believe in herself in order to be the best employee. Thanks for the reminder and tips on how to love ourselves. I think it is essential to Christian life.

  12. 15

    says

    I hear what Jamie is saying, but I think we have to learn to love ourselves in light of God our Maker who gives us the Holy Spirit to indwell in us! How can we not love ourselves! Not in a selfish human way, but love the new creation God is shaping us into each day. When you understand we are made in God’s image and have the Holy Spirit living in us, how can we not love ourselves and desire more of God and His heart! I think there are two totally different types of love that we are talking about here.

  13. 16

    says

    Thanks for this.

    God has really been speaking to my heart lately about embracing who I am…letting go of the past and not stressing over the future…but embracing who I am right now, in this place and time. The person He created me to be. One thing I have always done is replay things I said, stressing over if I said something wrong or shouldn’t have said this or that. Or, if I make a mistake…hanging on to it…not forgiving myself….not letting it go. Mulling it over and over in my mind. “Oh, no…I sang the wrong note. What if I represented myself poorly?”

    He is working in me….speaking to my heart to just let it go and humbly embrace it all….knowing that my identity is not in a perfect performance and not about me…my identity is in being His child…letting His love shine through me…letting Him work in and through my life.

  14. 17

    Jenny says

    Thought you may like this short 7 week study about the thoughts/words we say to ourselves: ME, MYSELF, & LIES…a thought closet makeover by Jennifer Rothschild. She starts out with our identity – “By the grace of God, I am what I am & His grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Cor. 15:10. May Gods words about you sink in and become alive in your spirit.

    “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Ps 19:14 (this goes for our thoughts too – even the ones we think about ourselves. for me – it’s something I catch after it’s too late, but He’s not done with me yet!)

  15. 18

    says

    It is true that we are our worst critics. I’m going through the book Captivating, along with the study guide & journal, & this fits right in to what I’m learning. I had never thought of myself as special JUST BECAUSE I was made in His image. It sure gives a different perspective (for me) on how I view my struggles & failures. It is work for us to forgive ourselves, accept ourselves, & to nurture ourselves-a daily (no, minute by minute) struggle. For me, because I know it’s what God wants me to do (forgive, accept & nurture myself) I will continue trying. I knew it is a weakness for me, & I hand that weakness over to Him. He is the one that made me this way after all, so He knows best what to do with that weakness of mine. Thanks for sharing.

    Danae

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