To quote Oscar Wilde’s most excellent character Lord Goring, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance” is to unashamedly declare a wholehearted enjoyment of oneself. But is it okay to do so? In a moment of self indulgent adulation, Lord Goring the epitome of vanity, takes great pleasure in stating how wonderful he is. While this somewhat narcissistic remark amuses and slightly repels those who have a more humble view of oneself, there is something quite charming about his character. He likes himself, he openly admits his faults; yet doesn’t apologise for them. He is comfortable with himself, and unafraid of being different. He embraces all of who he is (both the good and the bad) with a generosity that is most attractive.
While I love the character of Lord Goring, it is not so much a character study that I am interested in at the moment, rather a comment on this fabulous quote. It is of course satirical, yet there is a part of me shocked by his boldness. “I would never say that!” However, on thinking about it further there is merit in the attitude of loving oneself. Not in a vain, self-important way, but in a way that acknowledges self-worth. That believes I am lovely, I am of value, I have worth. Why? Not because the world revolves around me or that I am the only person worth loving. But because I am a child of God; made in his image, deeply loved and cherished.
I’ve been reading a book recently by Joanna Weaver, entitled “Having a Mary Spirit.” It’s a book that explores what it means to allow God, our loving Heavenly Father to do a transforming work in our hearts, making and shaping us to be women that reflect more and more of him. In one chapter, what caught my attention was a comment made by a young woman the author met, who said, “Well, I’ve been realising how much God loves me…But the most exciting thing is that I just feel like He loves me more that y’all!”
She goes on to clarify, that her meaning in saying this is not that she thinks she is more valued than the next girl, but that her relationship with God is such that she feels most precious in his eyes; whilst knowing that God sees each one of us as precious. What a mind-blowing truth this is. As I read those words, I was challenged: Do I think the same?
As parents, it is important we reiterate this message to our children: You have worth, God loves you, you are special because you are a child of God. But do we say that to ourselves? Or more importantly, do we truely believe it? Has this beautiful truth filtered down from our heads to our hearts, transforming how we see ourselves? A prayer I have prayed since I was a teenager has been, “Lord, make me into the woman you want me to be.” My desire to be more like Jesus is a noble one, yet the older I’ve got, I’ve lost sight, at times, of the simplicity and beauty of being loved by God. I’ve allowed my failings and weaknesses to weigh me down, somehow forgetting I have been saved by grace, not by works. God is indeed answering that prayer, lovingly making me more like him…and why? All because I am loved by him.
As this wonderful truth has gripped my heart afresh, something I didn’t expect has also begun to happen. I have started to love myself, and in loving myself, I have started to be kind to myself. A kindness that says, “It’s okay” when I make mistakes. A kindness that allows myself the gifts of rest and relaxation when I need it most, and that demandingly high standard I set for myself…I’m learning to leave that kind of work to God.
So I ask you…do you love yourself? God does, and he makes beautiful things.