|—||Emily Giffin, Heart of the Matter|
Ya know how people say that before you can really be loved you have to love yourself?
Um, yeah no. No. I think this is one of those things that sorta sounds right, but is insidiously, horribly imprisoning. Loving yourself is hard, freaking hard. And I am not talking about selfishness or narcissism, both of which are symptoms of self-loathing. I mean genuine unconditional positive regard for self.
I will confess here: I don’t love myself. That is the truth. I am taking steps in the right direction to walk in unconditional positive regard for myself. But mostly no. I am told I am worthy of love and respect, and I find within myself the desire to be loved, but far too often I find no sense in this notion that I am worthy of anything.
And then, my heart hearkens, back back…back to these words in 1 John: “we love, because He first Loved”…it is an axiom, found in the Bible and it gives an axiomatic accounting for love, where it came from and why we all want it, and do it too.
I do know that They love me. They have shown this to me in many specific individual ways, as well as the universal ways we all are shown love (such as beautiful sunsets, the smell of baby’s breath, the sound of the wind in fir trees, the taste of exquisite food, the sweet sorrow of parting with a well-loved friend that you will see again)…and I am working on loving myself…learning how to abandon those who are abandoners.
But I ain’t there yet…and that’s okay
To put it another way, I don’t think we’re called to imitate Jesus, but I do think we’re called to follow Jesus. There’s a subtle difference. Following Jesus implies an ongoing relationship, not merely imitating a really good guy who lived and died 2,000 years ago. Following Jesus implies that we might end up somewhere new doing things that are new—things that aren’t reflected in scripture because we inhabit a very different world than Jesus did. Even if we believe that Jesus was fully God, that doesn’t mean that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection tell us all there is to know about God. God is still working, God exists beyond the limits of history (even Jesus’s history as a man), and God promises to do a new thing within us.
Following Jesus implies forward movement, striving for a destination, which we might call “the kingdom,” as Jesus did. And as you know if you’ve ever taken a leisurely Sunday road trip or cross-country adventure or European rail journey, there is far more than one way to travel to get to the same destination.