When my focus is on Christ, then my life suddenly becomes clear. But when the focus is changed to me, that's when everything starts to look a bit blurry. Change your focus onto Christ, and not onto self.
But for Christians, the idea of self-love is a hot-button. A danger sign. Lights and Sirens start going off. I was quickly reminded of verses I had been taught against self-love. So nope, ain't going there. "Good Christians don't do that" was my motto. Sadly, a bad motto it was. Because the ideas of self-love and self-care are very different concepts.
Now before you call me a heretic, and lump me in the same category as false prophets. Let me remind you of the verses of which you're probably thinking of.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: - Eph 5:29
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. - John 15:12
Mark 12:31 ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
It's not dealing with the issue of my sinful heart and expressions of it. It's not dealing with anger, bitterness, thoughts of lust, laziness, unkind actions.
This is where I strongly disagree with the self-love movement. Loving myself more and accepting myself means I don't need God. I don't have to do the hard work and rely on Him.
What is important? Am I doing what is possible in my power to accomplish this goal?
I as a Christian have forgotten what it truly means to do ALL to the Glory of God! And the people around me need a better response than, "Well, Christians just don't do that. It's selfishness"
So when I hear that "I need to love myself more so I can love others better", I translate it to this. Is what I'm doing, actually preparing and readying me to give God the glory? Will God look bigger or better in the eyes of the lost world? Is my self-care really allowing me to find the right kind of rest?
Asking questions like this make me feel all warm and spiritually fuzzy. Kind of like putting on my Batman spiritual cape, and off to slay all the evils of the world.
But no, it's not that glamorous. It's bringing it down to my world, to my city, to my house...to me.
Questions quickly filter down to ones like.....Is staying up past midnight finish binge-watching my favorite show actually going to make me a better mom tomorrow?
Is skipping exercising because I don't feel like it or I'm tired today going to help me in shape?
Eating a humongous piece of chocolate cake so I don't feel the guilt of skipping exercising really going to assist me
Agreeing to help out in an 18th way at church, because I'm too afraid to say no, is that really going to give God the glory?
When I change my focus to OFF of me, and onto Christ, I realize that I need to learn to go to bed on time. I realize that I have to set aside time for self-care. Not skipping exercising. Eat a small piece of cake, and learning to say NO.
As Paul instructs in 1 Cor 9:27, I have to bring my body under subjection. I have to control the bad and the good where I can. I have to say no to extra things even though they may seem really good.
I jokingly tell people that I'm worthless if I don't get enough sleep. But the truth is, I'm not a good mom or wife...or even a good Christian when I don't get enough sleep. I've had to admit that I would rather drown my troubles in a piece of the dessert than deal with anger or my impatient attitude towards my children.
My heart, my sinful heart, is what needs true love. The love that only Christ can bring.
I'm not just talking about salvation, as that is just the beginning. It's a renewed focus to keep a right heart before Christ. Asking for forgiveness of those we have wronged. Being truthful in our responses.
That is the ultimate self-care that I can give to myself because then Christ is made bigger in my life. He is the one who receives the attention.
He is magnified.