Whether it is the midlife journey, the ascension journey or the just plain human journey, it seems to me that the goal is really one and the same. The goal, is to fall in love with ourselves.
Falling in love with ourselves, is referenced in one of my favorite prayers from one of my favorite teachers, Jesus of Nazareth:
That the world may know that you love them even as you loved me. (JN 17: 23)
Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and his prayer for us was that we would know within ourselves the depth of Love that he had come to know in, from and through God. The Greek word used to describe the kind of Love that Jesus taught is agape’ which is an unmerited, unconditional, adoring, glorifying, all-encompassing sort of Love. This is the Love that God is and the Love that Jesus came to know in his experiences of and with God and the Love that allowed Jesus to become the fullest expression of the person God made him to be. When we allow ourselves to know and be this Love, the same will be true for us. In knowing the fullness of God’s Love and the fullness of God’s love within us, we uncover the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we are called to reveal God’s love in the world. In short, knowing the fullness of God’s love empowers us to fall in love with ourselves.
Falling in love with ourselves begins with a process of self-inquiry. Who am I? What are my gifts? What are my passions? What are my fears? In what ways have I been wounded in my past? What are my compulsions (non-loving or unhealthy behaviors)? What are the parts of myself I prefer to keep hidden from others? What are the parts of myself I reject? What are the unrealized parts of myself? What are my unfulfilled hopes, dreams, desires, wishes, fantasies? What is my darkness? What is my light? What is life-giving to me? What drains me? Where am I inspired? Where do I find myself discouraged? Falling in love with ourselves means getting to know ALL the parts of ourselves….bringing it all into the light so that it can be seen. And then, it means LOVING it all.
Falling in love with ourselves means that we learn to love all that we are – warts and all. Falling in love with myself, for example, has been about learning to love my depression, learning to accept my anxiety, learning to appreciate the lessons I have learned through panic attacks, learning to love my childhood for all the challenges and gifts it has brought me, learning to see where I was loved and adored and seeing the growth that came out of situations where I perceived myself as being rejected or condemned. Learning to love myself has meant learning to love my anger, my sorrow, my sensitivity, my hatred, my desire for revenge and to stop judging myself for being human. Learning to love myself has meant understanding and appreciating the gifts of being introverted and accepting and learning to tend to the fragile state of my physical health.
Falling in love with ourselves has another word, and that word is JOY. Joy is the quality that God intended for us to know and to have in this human experience. Joy is what is manifest as we come to love ourselves more and more. Joy in all that we are given. Joy in all that we experience. Joy flowing out of us as we live and move and have our being. Joy in the sorrow and joy in the joy as reflected in the words of another great teacher:
Darkness and Light are but one. (Psalm 139)
Falling in love with ourselves is about knowing that all that we are is perfect in the eyes of God and seeing this perfection in ourselves.
How are you being invited to love yourself?