Last week I was gardening with my two-year-old son Joseph. We were planting new flowers for Spring, which Joey picked himself. He uses his plastic rake and shovel and “helps” alongside me. His help usually consists of picking up the dirt I just moved and putting it on the footpath, shouting, “Look, daddy, I did it!” The joy on his face is priceless.
Every few minutes, I tell him how proud I am of him, that he is doing a great job, and that I love him. He lights up and shovels just that little bit faster.
As I was shovelling, he calls out, “Ohhh, I love you so much, dad.” It melted my heart. I gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was of him and that I loved him so much. Then, getting back to shovelling, I hear him about to say it again, “Ohhh, I love you so much… Joey.” “What did you say?” I asked with a big smile.
He says it again, “I love you so much, Joey,” this time, kissing his hand and touching his cheek. My first reaction to this was; my son is weird. But at that moment, I realised he had taught me an important lesson. The importance of self-love.
Self-love comes from understanding that you are of infinite value and worth. You are made in God’s image and likeness. You image Him powerfully, beautifully, uniquely and unrepeatably. He loves you and is so proud of you, no matter what you are going through, what has happened to you or what you have done. God does not make rubbish, and God made you!
We can look in the mirror and see all the “proofs” for why we aren’t loveable; facial features, bad habits or toxic attitudes. We think if we got rid of them, finally we would love ourselves. Yet, in my own life, I have found that it is precisely in and through these “proofs” that I learn to love myself most.
I will not be loveable when I am perfect. I am loveable right now, in my imperfection. I will never be rid of all my imperfections. The journey of the Christian life is learning to love yourself as God loves you. Imperfect and reliant on Jesus to save you from your mess.
Sure, we can and should have things we are growing in and working on in our spiritual life and to be a better person, but the motivation should not be so we can “arrive” and then love ourselves. Instead, it should be because we want to grow in holiness and happiness and expand our ability to love and serve others.
Joseph doesn’t see any imperfections when he sees himself in the mirror. He is showered with love from Madeleine and me, and his whole extended family. He only knows that he is beautiful, a gift, special and loveable. In the same way, we must choose to hear the same words from our Heavenly father.
Love yourself. You are amazing 🙂