“Here’s the thing I keep saying to people, and the thing I think we need to hear most in this time: Be kind to yourself.”
That’s what our leader, Amanda said to us all as we signed off from our every-so-often campus ministry call.
Be kind to yourself.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the stories of Jesus, and the letters of the early Church, we find many places where people are learning what it means to love God, and to love their neighbor. From prophets crying out to love those on the margins, to the Apostle Paul writing a theological treatise about what the love of God looks like in Jesus, we see account after account of loving God and our neighbor.
But what about loving ourselves?
When Jesus is asked what commandment is the greatest, the Gospel of Mark says he responds with, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love your neighbor as yourself.
We often focus on the front half, don’t we? We try to love the neighbor near, and the neighbor far. We try to love the neighbor we like, and the neighbor we don’t. We try to love our neighbor by transforming systems that hurt our neighbor. We don’t always get it right, but we try our best. But what about loving ourselves?
How can we try our best to love ourselves?
I think that’s what Amanda was getting at it. In asking our group to be kind to ourselves, she was reminding us that not only are we called to give grace to others but we are called to receive grace for ourselves, too.
What ways can you love yourself in terms of your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being? This week I’m going to look myself in the mirror each day and say out loud, “Be kind to yourself.” I want to hear the words spoken to me, from me. I want to accept the grace that God has been extending to me, and I want to rest in it. Who cares if someone thinks I’m wacky. I need to hear it.
Let us be kind to ourselves, accepting God’s grace, and seeking to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Maybe you’ll want to join my practice, too.
Be Kind To Yourself,
(This was published in Happenings, the weekly newsletter, on May 15, 2020)