Loving Yourself, Loving Your Neighbor

Several years ago, I had an odd experience while in prayer. I don’t remember what I was praying about, and I’m afraid my explanation won’t do it justice, but the essence of it was God showing me what he loves about me. This wasn’t a generic “love of God washed over me” experience. Rather it was quite specific; God was showing me the particulars of how I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. These were things about me that are precious to him and that he has purposed into me. Not only would I not be me without those things, but God would not be able to use me according to his purposes if I did not possess them. But here’s the rub: all of those things God showed me have caused me a great deal of difficulty and pain. I had often wished I could change or even be rid those things altogether. Or at least have them be less-so. And as he showed me these things, it was the gap between God’s love for how he has made me and how I felt about it that really struck me.

At the time that this happened, I had a spiritual advisor who I met with monthly. When I shared this experience with her she murmured, “the touch which reveals desolation.” Yes. That it was. (I forgot to ask her where the phrase was from and have never been able to find its source. If anyone knows, please do share!) You would think that having God show me these things as what he most loves and finds precious about me would have changed how I felt as well, but it’s never quite that simple. (My infuriating complexity would be one of those things God pointed to, of course. “You have hidden these things from the wise and learned” indeed.) Instead, what that touch did was say, “this is my view of you. I want you to learn to view yourself the same way as well.” Continue reading “Loving Yourself, Loving Your Neighbor”