“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
Let’s face it, we are all selfish. Even if we do not look directly and overtly selfish, deep down inside… it is true. We all want to be significant, decent looking, and happy. Then we find ourselves in a world of other people. These people are everywhere. And you know what? They are selfish, too. So how can we love others (our neighbors) well when we are all selfish? What a question!
You can’t pour from an empty cup. A broken pot can’t hold water or give water to quench another’s thirst. An empty well cannot produce water either, just like an empty gas tank cannot fuel a vehicle. So, it follows that our “empty selves” cannot love others well, if even at all.
The idea of loving myself well so that I could love others well became clear to me during my years as a kindergarten teacher. I realized early on, if I was not rested it was more difficult to be patient and loving.
So, who was going to see to my rest? When I was hangry, I was not as patient and loving. So, who was going to get food into my stomach? When my soul was empty, I was not as patient and loving. So, who was going to feed and fill my soul? And who is in charge of me? And who can I blame?
I stopped and realized the fact that I am in charge of myself, my responses. and my thoughts. I begin to understand that I needed to invest in myself. Do you need to invest in yourself so that you can love others better? Do you need to put on your airplane safety mask first so that you can put the airplane safety mask of others, since you are alive and breathing?
There is a principle here. The principle of overflow.
When a cup/glass/bucket is full it will overflow. Period. There is no other option. When a heart is full, it will overflow. There is no other option. How full is your heart? And what can fill an empty heart? We know that money can’t. Fame can’t. Success can’t. A friend or a partner can’t. So, what is this mystery?
The truth is that we were created with a “God-shaped void” in our hearts. This intentional design was deliberate to draw us into a relationship with our Creator, our Knitter and our Knower. Yes! We were designed for relationship with Him. If you look to this world to validate you, there will be a nagging emptiness in your heart. This is a God shaped void that only He can fill.
We were designed to live FROM His indwelling Holy Spirit’s overflow and power… not from our own exhausting efforts towards performance and production. This is where the overflow comes from. And do you know what? The supply is endless. This is where our freedom comes from. This is where our love comes from. He is an unending Source. But are we daily drinking from the well of living water and wholeness? Are we living in the abundance of His truths? OR do we buy the lies of limits and scarcity?
We live best when we live from the abundance of a soul-filled relationship with God. If we attempted to love each other from our limited resources and efforts, we would woefully fall short. It is true. We need to be “flow-through entities” of the love and overflow of a satisfied soul.
Our heart-shaped soul void can only truly be satisfied and filled with and by God.
We should not seek wholeness from others because they cannot fill our “God-shaped” void for our unique purpose and our own wholeness.
I have found it so beneficial to take time to consider when I need to take time for my selfcare so I can continue to give the kind of care and to serve the purposes God has planned for me.
Beloved, in the hustle and bustle of Advent, please consider when you need time for selfcare. Do you need to take some time away to invest in your body, mind, and spirit to obtain good health and your wholeness?
I believe that we all can love our neighbors better when we love ourselves best and live from the overflow of peace, passion, and purpose.
A flower garden cannot grow without food, water, and nutrients. We cannot love others well from an angry, empty, broken heart. Love cannot grow without the investment of work, time and effort. We cannot love others well when our life is full of fears and self-doubt.
When we love ourselves well and invest in our hearts, then our family, our friends, and our neighbors will reap the benefits. This is our responsibility! No one else can bringing healing and wholeness to OUR heart. This is the choice that God gives us. The choice is ours and each of ours alone.
Please invest in this life-giving work. Self-care is a biblical principle that is God-honoring. Selfishness is different to self-care. Being the healthiest, strongest, and best version of ourselves is what God desires for us. I pray that we each recognize this can be time well spent as an investment into our wholeness, our purposes, and our peace.
Here are a few ideas on how we can love ourselves well and invest into the soil of the garden of our hearts:
• Prioritize time for self-evaluation and self-care.
• Give yourself grace to fail…then learn and “fail forward.”
• Don’t overthink life.
• Be patient and kind with yourself.
• Prioritize relaxation space/margin in your life.
• Identify your strengths and giftings and walk in them.
• Identify fears and seek resolutions.
• Identify lies that you believe to be true and replace them with your identity in Christ.
• Forgive yourself and accept that you are “perfectly imperfect.”
• Don’t waste energy on worry about things that you cannot control.
• Have hope in yourself…through hope in Christ.
• Let go of bitterness and unforgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
• Do not live with an offendable heart.
• Find REST FOR YOUR SOUL.
• Let go of your “control freak.”
• Develop the habit of a grateful heart.
• Set wise boundaries. Protect yourself…keep yourself safe yet not hidden.
• Don’t be quick to anger…you deserve more peace
• Move your body. Ride a bike or go on a hike. Watch the sunset.
• Live an honorable life. Do not dishonor your precious self.
• Spend quality time investing in your relationship with your Abba Father.
• Release emotions that weigh you down and receive life-giving Biblical truth.
• Healthy people know about healthy rest…find your deep, Sabbath rest.
May the Peace of the Lord be always with you,