You are loved
It might be the most important message we hear. We are loved.
I sometimes dare to ask the question when I am with troubled people . . . Often sick in heart, in body, in mind.
“Do you love yourself?”
The answer is often no, bordering on surprise that I would even ask. What a foreign thought to many.
In the culture I grew up in, that would have seemed a selfish question. For self-denial bordered on holiness, and putting others before yourself surely seemed like a golden rule.
But if we look at the most important commandments Jesus taught us, the first is to love God, the second to love others AS you love yourself.
You get the idea on the plane, the safety speech we often tune out as we prepare to take off… put the oxygen mask on first… then you are able to help your child, or whoever needs your assistance.
But loving yourself goes much deeper than self-care . . . it is receiving the love that is there for us all along… the tender, unconditional, lavish, personal love our Heavenly Father has for us. Can we believe it? Receive it? Know that we are the beloved?
When we live out of that cherished place, a place of belonging, of knowing that the One who formed us loves us, it gives us confidence to live well.
That is the story of Christmas, that God, who loves us, came to live with us, to fully understand being human. It is really beyond my comprehension, but wonderful to embrace. God with us, Emmanuel, and we can have the assurance we don’t have to do life alone.
So yes. I am loved, you are loved. And as we also learn to love ourselves as God loves us, we have the capacity and the grace to extend that gift to those around us.