A blog reader (and patient) who will remain anonymous has been encouraging me to write a post on the importance of loving oneself. A couple of days ago, she wrote me an email explaining how important this concept has been to her in recent days. I asked if she was willing for her thoughts to be shared on the blog. Her reply? "Of course." So here you go!
From an email dated Saturday, October 20, 2012:
The injunction "Love thy neighbor as thyself" has been popping into my mind for the last few days, and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.
I think most of us would find it not too hard - at least in most cases—to maybe not love, but at least like our neighbor. But us? Love ourselves? Even like ourselves? No way!
Once I asked a dear friend if she loved herself and she looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t even know what that means.” And she was love itself, a church-goer, generous to a fault, devoting all her time to helping others. How could she not know what that meant? I think lots of people would throw up their hands in horror if asked the same question. Yet all through the Bible, the subject is God’s great love for us.
So I was asking myself, what's wrong?
In the Bible there is a lot of talk about self-abnegation, self-sacrifice, and selfless love. Also, original sin. And to me, it’s this notion that we are basically sinners and worthless, therefore unworthy of love, that seems to have gotten the upper hand.
So the idea of loving oneself has become twisted into being irrelevant or into seeming like an ego trip of self-absorption or self-indulgence, to be rejected entirely by anyone seeking salvation. And then appears the natural extension of this neglecting to love oneself - self-hatred.
I think we have the wrong idea of love and of Love. And it is a better understanding of Love, of God as an unchanging Principle, teaching us to love even ourselves, that makes Christian Science revolutionary.
In Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Art thou unacquainted with thyself? Then be introduced to this self. Know thyself!”
Over these past several days when you have been working for me, I have begun to understand that knowing myself has to do with loving myself. That is, to know myself, and love my real self, I must see myself as Love sees me. And “love is patent, love is kind.”
So a healing has come. I can see that because God says I am loved and loveable, it’s being said and done and can’t be contradicted. I can yield, accept. Understanding this has overturned all the bad I’d been told about myself ever since I was little. And the baseless anger that had been eating at me for several months has just dissolved. I have become more patient and kind. I have totally quit bashing myself for anything and everything. And I have decided to love no matter what. Me. Others. Often expressed in just a smile, or even merely a pleasant expression. And in return I’ve had such blessings.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no