One of the perks of having a lot of kids is that there is always a lot of love at our house. Sure, there is a ton of arguing too, but at the end of the day, and heavily peppered throughout the day, the love that we are surrounded with is simply amazing. These kids make me feel amazing. They see me through Christ’s eyes and while I fail so often they are able to love me regardless. I wish I was able to see myself through the lens that they see me and love myself the way they love me. I’m working on it, but it’s an arduous task and one that I don’t always succeed at.
Chapter 10: Forty Words
If you asked me to sum up my greatest teaching in just 40 words, I may be at a loss. I tend to like to talk and overstate and maybe one might say… ramble. I’m also not the “greatest teacher ever” like Jesus was. When we look at the mere 40 words that Christ gave us:
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:39
we see that there was no need to overstate or ramble. The truth of the matter is that the law is simple and it is God’s people who make it complicated. Christ gives us all we need to know in 40 words.
While the message is simple, living it out may not be quite so easy. Of course Matthew Kelly reminded us in the last chapter that simple doesn’t always equate easy. Loving our neighbor, particularly those who deliberately try to make our lives harder, can be really difficult. But we are called to do so regardless.
Last year when my small faith group was doing this study I mentioned that it wasn’t the loving my neighbor part that was hard for me. To be honest, I find this the easier part of the commandment. I can see God in others, even the ones who are so cruel or hurtful to me, and that makes it easy to love them. But for me the harder part of the commandment is that Jesus is telling me that I need to love myself… and that part feels impossible on some days!
I have written about my struggles to love myself before and some of the reasons why it seems like I may never completely get to the point, but I know that if I truly want to live out this commandment then I have to do exactly that. I have to be able to see God in me the same way as I can see Him in others.
I have wrestled with a line in this book, both last year and again now, that perhaps some of you can help me with. It reads, “For until we learn to love ourselves as God wants us to, our ability to love others will be limited and deformed.” I have no problem loving others. In fact, I think the people who know me would say they feel very loved and accepted by me; probably more so than from most others. My inability to love myself completely and to see myself the way others and God do doesn’t seem to affect how I see and love others or to love God (as that love burns deeply within me and hopefully spills out into all I do!). But I know that I should love myself more and I know Christ tells me I can’t fully love others or God if I don’t. It confuses me.
Point to Ponder: God wants to raise you up.
God only wants good for us. He desires that we are raised up with Him. Often our own wills and selfish desires get in the way of the greater good He has planned for us.
Verse to Live: “As God’s chosen ones, holy, and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience.” Col 3:12.
These are the virtues I regularly pray that God will cultivate within my heart. It is only by living these virtues can we truly love God and others. They help us to see the good in others, encourage us to treat people as Christ teaches, and they help prepare our hearts to serve as beacons of Christ’s light and love.
Question to Consider: Are you loving yourself the way God wants you to love yourself?
For me the answer is an unfortunate no. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I am working on it though and I feel like I am getting a little closer and a little better at loving myself.
Your Turn: Is it easier for you to love yourself or your neighbor? Why? What changes do you need to make in your life to be more loving? Are you afraid to pray for the virtues of compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience?
Prayer: Jesus, begin a revolution of love in my heart today. Teach me to love myself as you love me, so that I can love all those who cross my path in a way that reminds them that you changed the world. Amen.