In Matthew we are told to love God with all our hearts, our souls and our minds, and to then love thy neighbor as thyself. Often, my thoughts focused on how challenging it can be to love certain people – some just rub us the wrong way. Jesus emphasizes this when he says that it is easy to love those who love us and that the more challenging part is loving those who we see as our enemies, or more likely just difficult people. I assume that most of us try to be loving to most that we meet each day, but again we run into some people who cause us to feel defensive, angry, fearful or irritated, so we wrestle with how in the world we can feel love towards these people. It can be hard. And, then I realized why it can be hard. It can be hard because so many of us haven’t learned to love ourselves good enough that we can then extend that kind of love to those who press our buttons.
Learning to love ourselves may sound easy to do on the surface. But for anyone who begins the journey of going inward to figure out what is keeping you from a sense of peace learns quickly that there are undoubtedly alot of unresolved beliefs that keep you from feeling a deep sense of love and peace within yourself. As you start to uncover these inner beliefs/hurts (usually by being triggerred as mentioned above and thus feeling defensive, angry, fearful, irritated and such) you’ll often see that they stem from previous occurances, often while growing up, where someone tried to make you feel that you were not good enough just as you are. And, the truth is you are beautiful, strong and perfect just as you are. We all have made mistakes – some our doing and some others doings, but we are all beautiful, strong and perfect in God’s eyes. This is where the forgiveness begins – forgiving others plus the harder part, forgiving yourself. But, as you work through the process, you begin to feel lighter, happier and start to notice more feelings of love, forgiveness and compassion towards others. You start to learn that you don’t need other people or circumstances to be different in order for you to be happy – but rather you just need to heal and love yourself to be happy.
And, from this place, as you start to love thyself, you then find it easier to extend that love to others because the inner peace and joy that is the true essence of who you are created by God, can finally shine. This is how I feel you learn to you love thy neighbor as thyself.