I had the privilege to be invited on a podcast called Fit for Joy. The host asked me if I believed in unconditional love. That was easy. “Of course,” I answered. I believe in unconditional love, especially where God is concerned. There is nothing we have to do to earn God’s love.
But then she asked if I believed in unconditional self-love. It takes a lot for me to be speechless, but I was. I hadn’t considered loving myself unconditionally. There are times I can beat myself up pretty badly – although, I’m getting much better at being more kind and gentle with myself.
If I make a mistake or forget to do something, I’m learning to forgive myself and let it go. Holding onto anything only leads to unnecessary suffering.
Unconditional self-love is very thought provoking, isn’t it? As someone who wants to follow Christ’s example, I consider myself to be a loving person. So, that means loving myself too.
What the Bible Says About Love
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” (NRSV)
John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (NIV)
Then there is Paul’s love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 when he describes what love is. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (NRSV)
Isn’t True Love Unconditional?
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 (NRSV)
I was having a very spirited conversation with a gentleman on this verse. He quoted it, but stopped at love your neighbor. I said, “You forgot something. You forgot the love yourself part.”
He was practically indignant and said, “Where does it say that?” He had missed that part entirely. How often do we miss that part?
How to Love Yourself Unconditionally
Getting back to Paul’s writing on love… If you substitute the word love for you. Can you ask yourself:
Am I patient?
Am I kind to myself and talk to myself with loving kindness?
Am I envious, boastful, arrogant or rude? If so, can I catch myself, forgive myself and strive to do better?
are you patient with yourself? Do you talk to yourself with loving kindness? Do you rejoice when you’ve been truthful? Do you believe in yourself?
I hope so.
Do you have a hard time letting go? The more you let go, the more you can live life with joy and flow. This Letting Go guided meditation, prayer, and three steps to letting go may help.