Do you love yourself?

LOVING yourself -- it's important. Before we can really love others in the truest sense and be loved in return, we must love ourselves. But how? If you've failed to live up to your own expectations, if you've felt that you just haven't amounted to very much, if you've felt unloved and unlovable, the need is to get a clearer understanding of God and a new view of yourself.

Christian Science, in harmony with the Bible, teaches that God is good, that He has all power, and that He is Love. Imagine! Love has all power! We need to see the magnitude of Love, feel its tenderness, and see that our real being is the very emanation of Love.

We are infinitely precious to God. He created us. He preserves us, and we can never diverge from what He has created us to be. He is Spirit, and the man that He has created is spiritual, not subject to foibles and limitations but always wonderful and grand. Clearly, this is often not apparent. But it is, nevertheless, the reality, because what God created must -- and does -- express His nature.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has defined Spirit as ``divine substance; Mind; divine Principle; all that is good; God; that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite.''1 To think of ourselves as spiritual, reflecting ``divine substance,'' clearly demands that we look beyond a surface view.

Through his healing works Christ Jesus gave us ample proof that man's true nature is spiritual, whole. He showed that when this genuine selfhood is acknowledged and understood, it becomes evident through healing right here on the human scene.

I had an experience that illustrates something of this. For many years I didn't like myself very much. I didn't have many friends and spent most of my free time alone. I didn't expect othersto like me or to want to spend time withme because I felt that there were many things in my character that were far from good. So I worked at changing. But even though some progress was made, the problems I was working hard to overcome kept reappearing. This reaffirmed my belief that the things I wanted so much to change were just a part of my nature and couldn't be changed.

More than anything else I wanted to be loved. As a teen-ager I had discovered that often people who were ill or in pain got a lot of attention and sympathy. So I began to fake illness in order to get attention. To me, this was the closest thing to love that I could ever expect to have. I did this for several years, and though I did get attention, I was finding it harder and harder to live with myself. Eventually, with the help of a Christian Scientist, I was able to stop the charade, but I still felt unloved and unlovable.

I really began to turn to God at that point, knowing that the only real solution would come from Him. As I did this, I realized that I was trying to hold on to two views of myself. I was honestly trying to gain an understanding of my true, spiritual nature, but at the same time I was thinking of myself as a bumbling, self-centered mortal. It finally became clear that only one of these views could be true.Either God had created me in His image, and therefore I was, in truth, good, or I really was incompetent and unlovable.

This prepared me for the next step. I gained a sense of what God's love is like. I hadn't been feeling well, and the desire for sympathy and attention seemed legitimate. It became clear, though, that this wasn't my need. My real need was to realize that as God's beloved child I could never get more love than I already had.

I began to think about some of my co-workers, people that I'd come to care about very much. I realized that they never needed to do anything to get me to like them. They didn't need to arouse my sympathy or to impress me. The love that I felt for these individuals was just there. It existed. And then I saw that God's love is like that! He just loves. I didn't have to get it or earn it.

All the old feelings of being unworthy and unloved dropped away. I had truly glimpsed the fact that I existed in God's love, that I was surrounded by it and expressed it. And I saw that this was true for everyone; that no one in his or her true being was unworthy.

We can love ourselves, because it's not a charming or a dull or a sinful personality we're to love but God's image. ``God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.''2 That includes each of us.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 594. 2Genesis 1:31. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

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