Diving back into Brene Brown’s work has me thinking a lot about self-compassion lately, and (as is so often the case for Brene) what that means for us in the church. Perhaps in the Gospels when Jesus says the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” instead of that meaning we need to be less selfish, it means that as we go about learning to love ourselves, we also do the difficult work of loving others. It’s easy enough to hate ourselves while feeling the emotion of love for someone else, but it is much harder (Brene would say impossible) to connect and be courageously vulnerable with others in an authentic way if we hate ourselves.
This command of Jesus isn’t so much about having to love ourselves before we can feel love for others, but about true connection. We cannot become solely inwardly or outwardly focused. If we focus on our inner world to the detriment of the community around us, we have failed. If we ignore our own self-hate and shame by pouring ourselves into the lives of those around us, we will drown. A lack of self-compassion manifests itself in our outward behaviors and speech. It’s not selfish to love yourself. In fact, it’s holy work, work we are called to by Jesus himself. Spend some time thanking God today for all the wonderful things that make you YOU. It isn’t always easy to see the lovely things about ourselves, but your relationships with those you love will be all the better for it.