“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31 NKJV).
I was spending time in prayer and devotion a few weeks ago and I came across the above scriptures. I have read these verses many times but for some reason verse 31 stood out to me like a sore thumb. “And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I asked myself: How can we love our neighbors as ourselves when most of us do not truly love ourselves? Can that be why there’s so much hatred, abuse, jealousy, discord, competition amongst each other, etc.? The scripture tells us to love your neighbor as yourself but some of us are so shattered and damaged to the point we hide behind our designer clothes and fake smiles however, internally we are unhappy with who we are.
You must first love yourself before you can love your neighbor. I am the first to admit, I love all of God’s people (even when it is difficult to love them) but I had to look at the man in the mirror and say do you truly love yourself? It was a difficult question to answer but I realized I just started the process not too long ago of truly loving Jackie Lowe. It has not been easy but through therapy, prayer and a great support system, I have been blessed to remove the negative words spoken to and against me that caused me to have such low self-esteem. I too hid behind my smile thinking no one would know how damaged I was on the inside. How much I disliked myself because of things people said to me or about me. Once I realized through therapy that I did not have to accept any negativity and I started seeing myself through the eyes of God, the process started of loving myself to wholeness. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14 NKJV).
Part of the mission of The Voice Within Ministries is to love all people to wholeness. In order to do that, I know we must first love ourselves. It is important to me that people know they are loved and not only know it but feel it. When I come into contact with people today, one thing they always seem to point out is the genuine love they feel from me. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Life can deal us some unfair hands however, it’s what we do with those hands. Either we allow them to break us or we use them to make something beautiful. Take for example a cake. You might be given all the ingredients to bake a cake however, you are missing one ingredient. Take what you have and still bake that cake and you never know how it might turn out. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). If you are facing a mountain that just will not move, you have to ask God to give you the strength to climb over that mountain. If you are going through a valley experience, you have to ask God to give you the grace to walk through that valley. Whatever it takes to begin loving thy self again.
One day I was driving home and as I headed home on the freeway the mountains were to my left. As I looked at the mountains, I said to myself, “What if we looked at God as the size of the mountain and our problems as the size of the mustard seed? Would are faith not grow?” Now I know God is bigger than a mountain, but I am sure you get the picture. It seems like we look at God as the size of the mustard seed and our problems as the size of the mountain. I encourage you today, as you begin the process of loving thy self, whatever obstacles you are facing that are causing you not to love thy self, look it head on and say with faith and boldness, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”