The following was included in a special devotional for participants in my church’s women’s retreat.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7)
Love your neighbor as yourself is part of the great commandment. The other way to say it is, Love yourself as your neighbor. Love yourself not in some egocentric, self-serving sense but love yourself the way you would love your friend in the sense of taking care of yourself, nourishing yourself, trying to understand, comfort, strengthen yourself. ––Frederick Buechner
Recently I found myself in therapy, peeling back layers of woundedness I thought I’d already dealt with, that I thought God had already healed. But we’re many-layered onions, each of us born to human families and living more than a handful of years in this mixed-up world. Still, I’ve wondered, How many layers can there possibly be?
I’ve seen a spiritual director monthly for the better part a decade, and she helps me connect the dots of my life, listening as I bubble over with excitement about a new job or an upcoming opportunity, listening as I cry tears of self-pity or true pain. She always asks, “What do you think God is saying to you in this?”
She reminds me of how far I’ve come, how faithful God has been. He’s endured all manner of things from me: blaming him for my childhood trauma, ignoring him completely, using him for my own benefit. But he’s held out hope that I might flourish into the true me he created with tender delight, and he’s teaching me that loving myself as he commanded means that I never give up hope for me, too.
God, thank you for never giving up on us, for bearing our shame, hurts, and hangups. Teach us to reflect your love back on ourselves and help us to hope unswervingly for our own healing. Amen.