"I love you more."
"I love you a bushel and a peck."
My sweet mother-in-law would always hug her children and tell them she loved them a bushel and a peck. She continued this tradition as the family grew with her children getting married and grandchildren being born. Now, at the age of almost 103, she still gives us our hugs and if we ask her how much she loves us, she will tell us "a bushel and a peck." This is such a special time with her and will be a sweet memory for the family, especially my husband who goes to see her 6 days a week.
So, how much love is "I love you more"? How much love is "a bushel and a peck"? I honestly don't know the answer to that question. Yet, when I hear those words, it warms my heart and makes me feel the person is trying to tell me they love me more than I could imagine.
As I think about how much love God has for us, I can hear Him say, "I love you more." I love you so much, I sent my Son to die for you.
And, then, I look at the words in Luke 10:27 where Jesus says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and, your neighbor as yourself." How much love is that? For those who love who they are, it's a lot of love for others and for themselves. For those who don't love who they are, like I once didn't, it's very little love for others and for self.
And, why, when we're told to love God with all our heart, soul and strength, did He add, "and your neighbor as yourself?" Was He showing that if we don't love others as ourself, our love for Him would be void? Did He know there would be things come along in life to cause us to not have love for ourselves and each other; yet, at the same time we would share about how much we love God?
In I John 4:19-21, we read, "We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."
As I read the scripture in I John 4, I realize that in order to truly love God, I must love others. And, if I'm to truly love God, I'm to love others as I love myself. But, what if I don't love me? What if I don't love the person God made me to be? Do you love you? Do you love the person God made you to be? According to the scripture we must if we want to love God!
So, how do you go from not loving who you are, to loving who you are? For me, it happened when a coach asked questions to help me see I was hanging on to my past and what others had said about me. Even though I had lost the weight 40 years earlier and kept it off, I still believed what had been said to me in the past. And, when I looked in the mirror, I searched for evidence to prove them right! How crazy is that?
However, when I began to study God's Word and really pay attention to the scriptures showing me how special I am to God, I began to love myself and to have more compassion and understanding for others.
Some of the scriptures that have guided and continue to guide me are:
Ephesians 2:10 "For you are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them."
Psalm 139:14 "I praise you, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made..."
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.."
I Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own."
The more I studied these and other scriptures, the more I realized the importance of loving myself from the inside out. I was so focused on the physical part of me, that I wasn't loving the spiritual and emotional. God made the whole body. I began to put focus on loving all three parts - the physical, spiritual and emotional. I call this our "Three Immune Systems". I discovered that when one of the Immune Systems is not healthy, none of them are. With this new thought, I began to focus on the whole body so I could be all God intended me to be.
I also began to understand more about this thing called love. As I study how God and Jesus love, I began to realize this love for my neighbor and myself is to be a compassionate, merciful and gracious love. That tells me I will listen to others, be understanding and forgiving when mistakes are made (as shared in the blog post, "For I Am Giving.")
This love for my neighbor and myself will be an unconditional love, the kind of love Jesus had when He was crucified for you and for me - Matthew 27:32-50. Now that is love.
As I think about the scriptures telling me how special I am to God, my creator; and I think about His love and the love of Jesus; how could I but love myself physically, emotionally and spiritually? What a joy to have this kind of love in our life.
After reading these thoughts, will you make a commitment to love yourself the way God intended for you? Will you love others with an unconditional love the way Jesus did?
If you are struggling with loving yourself and others, then please contact me for a complimentary strategy session and let's find out what is keeping you from having the kind of love you want for yourself.
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