Christian Self LovePosted 01/11/16 in [Non-Nutrition Thoughts and Kudos] | Comments Off on Christian Self Love
I was discussing the issue of truly evil people with someone on social media, and this person contacted me privately to ask my opinion about how to deal with people who have what the Bible refers to as an evil heart. This is the excellent article we were discussing (opens in a new window). Here is what I responded.
I can only tell you my opinion on this. Bear with me, because I need to set the stage a little bit first. The great commandment is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We cannot truly love ourselves unless we are connected with the One who made us. This means I need to lay down my definition of who I am, and adopt His definition of who I am. And who I am is LOVED. Therefore, loving myself is treating myself the way God’s love treats me, with my best interests in mind, and an established capital-T truth that I am worth dying for, because He thinks I am so valuable and relationship with me is so valuable He did just that. So, that–without any narcissism or egocentrism so common in This Age’s self-help books–is how I must first be relating with myself. It has to be the filter through which I see myself, and it has to be the filter through which I understand the greatest commandment. Because I was created by God, who is just, merciful and the Bible says is the very definition of love, I am worth being loved by myself. Not for what I’ve done–just because He is my creator.
That being said, someone who does not live, eat, and breathe this often has a hard time understanding what boundaries are acceptable in interpersonal relationships. Or, at least, I know that was true for me. So, when I encounter something that creates dissonance in me, and I can attribute that to a boundary I have already set being violated, I first ask myself, is this boundary is reasonable for who I am as someone who is worthy to be loved? If my subjectively-objective evaluation is that my boundary with that person is wrong, then I adjust accordingly. However, because I have now walked for many years understanding that I am worthy of being loved, oftentimes it’s that the person is violating a boundary I have with them based on a previous decision. That then informs my response, which I take some time to pray through. The most recent situation involved a business situation and meeting for lunch and talking through how I felt their actions and words had violated boundaries I had set up 3 different times with them. I then told them I would not be able to continue with them if it continued and we tried to work it out. Unfortunately, there was a fourth violation and I simply cut ties, even though it cost me in my business.
My litmus test is always, Am I loving myself the way God loves me by enduring this treatment? I am only ever able to extend grace to someone when I am loving myself first. Ignoring boundary-violating behavior without being confident that I’m worth dying for isn’t loving my neighbor as myself at a heart level. It is merely enduring crap.
After doing the work to better understand loving self, a very first, practical step I would advise is simply to make a list of things that are non-negotiable in light of this loving self. It will be different for every person. Some of mine are that I will not endure being maliciously struck by someone. That is a game changer for me. I will change my living situation if I have to at any cost if someone were wanting to hit me. Other friends I have actually don’t see that as a game-changer, and I respect that (and remain confused by it). I also will not tolerate the type of lying that reveals self-preservation at its core, so much so that history is rewritten in their mind and consistently casts me as a foe or someone who is very different from who I know I am (which is LOVED, remember?).
But again, I couldn’t make these decisions until I was thoroughly understanding what loving myself meant in light of God’s Word. Then I could draw lines in the sand for myself with people and deal with the people in the article as they came my way…and with others who might violate boundaries innocently.