How can I learn to love myself?

Today’s contributor learned to love herself when she took seriously the idea that God was loving her.

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I remember sitting in my bedroom asking myself, “How can I learn to love myself?” There was a time when I compared myself regularly to my friends and wished I could be as pretty, funny, or interesting as they were. There wasn’t much I loved about myself; instead, I was constantly thinking of everything I should do better. I wanted to express more love, integrity, and selflessness, among other things. It’s not that I hadn’t tried to, but forcing myself to be a better person wasn’t sustainable. I’d slip up – and then be left feeling frustrated and hopeless.

As a Christian Scientist, I’m used to praying about tough things in my life. And in the past, I’d prayed about so many other issues and had great healings – of illnesses, relationship problems, and even character traits that needed to be overcome. But I’d been reluctant to pray about this. It seemed selfish to ask God to show me how I could love myself, and I was afraid that even if I did ask, I wouldn’t get an answer.

Sitting in my bedroom that afternoon at a particularly low point, I realized that I couldn’t keep going through this cycle of negativity. So I gathered up the courage to reach out to God.

The first thing that occurred to me was that none of those negative thoughts could be coming from God, who is supreme and infinite Love, so they couldn’t have any power or truth to them. We have the courage not to accept or believe a lie. What should we be listening to and believing instead? This verse from the Bible gave me direction: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). I made a conscious decision to wholeheartedly trust God and to reject any thoughts that weren’t from Him.

Another idea in a favorite book – “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science – helped me get a better understanding of how I should see myself. It says, “If there ever was a moment when man did not express the divine perfection, then there was a moment when man did not express God, and consequently a time when Deity was unexpressed – that is, without entity” (p. 470).

Our very purpose for existing is to express God. Not as mortals, separate from God, struggling to be better. Rather, we are the creation of God, divine Spirit – meaning we inherently express His lovely attributes, such as joy, beauty, creativity, and love. God expresses all His goodness equally in everyone – and loves each of us. So rather than comparing ourselves to others, we can be grateful for their expression of these wonderful qualities, because it shows that we can express God in this way also.

Loving God means loving His creation, too, and that includes ourselves. We have a right to love ourselves as He created us. This is far from arrogant, because it involves acknowledging God as the source of all good.

These ideas completely transformed my concept of myself, and I felt genuine love for myself. I can’t say that since then I haven’t occasionally had feelings of doubt or inadequacy. But when I do, I remember this experience and remind myself that I have plenty of good to share because I reflect God.

In the Bible, when someone addressed Christ Jesus as “Good Master,” he replied, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:16, 17). This wasn’t a self-deprecating statement; Jesus was acknowledging that all the good he embodied was an expression of God. This is true for each of us, too. In the expression of God that you and I truly are, what’s not to love?

Adapted from an article published in the Q&A series of the Christian Science Sentinel’s online TeenConnect section, July 3, 2018.

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