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  • Writer's picturethewelltherapy

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Self-love makes a lot of us feel uncomfortable. It’s not arrogant or egotistical.

It does not mean I value myself over others.

To the contrary, it’s necessary and even commanded … right after loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Obviously, I’m still working this out in real-life practical terms like every other human on the planet. I’m nowhere near achieving the goal and some days I feel like I’ve fallen to the bottom of the ladder again and need to claw my way back up the rungs.

I’m just writing this out as a way of processing this love thing and trying to figure out how it all fits together. I need a roadmap, and maybe you do too. It’s simple, and not so easy.

Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV), “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Emphasis mine)

1 John 4:8 (ESV) says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Love God, love self, love other people. And to love someone, we must know them; know their character and intentions toward us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) which describes how God loves. It’s a great starting point for knowing His character and intentions toward us. It’s also a great starting point for evaluating how we love self and others.

* In no way does God ever want you to remain near someone who abuses with words, manipulates, controls, or is violent in words, actions, or emotions. To the contrary, God want you to love yourself enough to move to safety and create distance from someone who is harming you.

In addition, love disciplines when we act in ways that can produce harm to self or others. Hebrews 12:6 (ESV), “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Because who sees a friend headed for trouble and just lets him run headlong into disaster?

In my mind, it all starts with knowing God and His love. It’s kind of cool to read through scripture and believe what it says God is thinking about me … about you. Because it’s foundational for being filled with His love. Letting it sink in not just my head but my heart and my bones.

I want to be so filled with it, that I can’t help but pour it out. Cause y’all probably know whatever you’re full of is what gets poured out on everyone around you whether you like it or not. We can be filled with lots of stuff that is not love – shame, guilt, bitterness, anger. None producing the kind of righteousness God desires (James 1:20).

It blows my mind that before God breathed life into the first human, He knew how you and I would hammer nails into his hands and feet. And He loved us so much He created us anyway and made a way for us to be reconciled with Him for eternity. I’ve never met that kind of love on this side of heaven, and probably never will until Jesus returns.

And that’s how He wants me to see me. Worth the effort because He said so.

And that’s how He wants me to see every other human on the planet. Lord, help me! I’m a long way from that! I know He will be faithful to help me move along in the right direction, teaching and correcting. Goodness, I’m thankful for His patience because I’m a hot mess!

Here are some things Scripture says about how God sees us – they are true for me, true for you, and true for every other human on the planet. (The emphasis in these scriptures is mine.). I encourage you to personalize these by replacing “you” or “us” with your own name.

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. (1 John 3:1)

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5)

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. (Romans 5:5)

My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the LORD corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I will be glad and rejoice in Your unfailing love, for You have seen my troubles, and You care about the anguish of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:20-23)

“The Lord your God is in your midst — a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are! Because the world didn’t recognize him, it doesn’t recognize us.” (1 John 3:1)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:20)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11

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  • Writer's picturethewelltherapy

Live long enough with other humans, and you’re likely to experience the pain of a relationship that does not feel loving. Relationships stop feeling loving when anti-loving words or actions become habitual. #love #anti-love #fights #relationships

Heck, if we are honest, some of us don’t even know what real love – perfect love – should look, sound, or act like. (I'm sorry if this is you.) And truthfully, we as humans are incapable of delivering perfect love without occasional hiccups and outright failures. It’s true. #perfectlove

Here’s a checklist from the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV) of what perfect love is:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Let’s take it verse by verse.

Love is patient and kind – love waits its turn to speak, listens well, uses gentle words, believes the best, and gives the benefit of the doubt (in the absence of evidence or facts indicating otherwise).

Love does not envy or boast, nor is it proud – love comes in humble; love seeks to understand the other’s position and feelings. Love is not bragging about own superior contributions; it is not jealous or comparing to anyone else’s relationship. Love, in its humility, sees own failings and seeks forgiveness and makes earnest efforts to change thoughts, words and behaviors that do not align with love’s standards.

Love does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs – Love does not name-call; love honors others. Love seeks to please the other. Love does not threaten divorce. Love does not get all puffed up with pride and try to make itself look better or right in the face of an argument. Love does not get angry easily – sometimes anger is righteous and justified, but it should not be the go-to for love. Love does not pull out every past wrong in the middle of an argument and sling it like dung.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth – love does not physically, emotionally, or verbally berate or abuse. Love seeks the truth and soars when God-instilled identity (Imago Dei) is affirmed; love can be restored when truths are revealed – there can be no real love living amid lies, deceit, and gaslighting.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Someone who loves you will always protect you, always trust you, always hope for you, always preserve your relationship above all else. Likewise, if you love someone, you will be the same toward them. True, perfect love never fails.

This is God’s love that we seek to emulate with imperfect results. And because we humans do love with such frailty, forgiveness and reform are needed to repair relationships when we make relational blunders or when others harm us. We must become self-aware and self-reflective and honest enough to admit when we’ve done wrong and make the repair efforts. We must forgive others when they’ve wronged us. It’s a mandate, not optional. Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV), “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Forgiveness and love are not the same as maintaining proximity, though. When hurtful words and behaviors are habitual – when the repair efforts are followed by the same cycle of anti-love words, behavior, and cruelty – it may be time to seek help evaluating the relationship with a neutral party or to seek counseling to obtain external help and safety. It is not and has never been God’s desire for one of His beloved to remain in relationship that is emotionally or physically abusive or unsafe. Sometimes these relationships can be repaired, sometimes they cannot. When they cannot, forgiveness and love are best practiced from a distance. #safety #abuse #forgiveness #repair

Whether it’s friends, partner, spouse, kids, or parents, we have all received, experienced, and doled out anti-love. Tragically, some of us have been taught that anti-love is love.

We are each responsible for our own behavior, and are responsible to evaluate ourselves, and take action to grow in emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT), “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”

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  • Writer's picturethewelltherapy

Since you’re here, I’m guessing you’re looking for freedom from something. Maybe you want to be free from anxiety. Or maybe it is depression, addiction, or suicidal thoughts that you’d like to banish from your life. #anxiety #depression #addiction #suicidalthoughts

Maybe you’d like to find freedom from pain or a debilitating medical diagnosis or disease, a toxic relationship, crushing debt, a destructive marriage…. There are so many ways that we feel constrained, trapped, or ruled by thoughts and feelings it would be impossible to name them all here. #destructivemarriage #toxicrelationship

And if we are honest, many of us have been taught to believe or have come to believe by lack of instruction or shame that these thoughts and feelings make us bad Christians. Many of us have been led to believe that “good Christians” never experience anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Or that if we are in a toxic, destructive marriage we are just supposed to suck it up because “God hates divorce”. Well, God does hate divorce because He is aware of the pain it causes – we’ve “divorced” Him a billion times over. But that you’re supposed to just suck it up and stay stuck as an emotional or physical punching bag is a lie. All of those are lies, by the way – distortions of the truth that Satan would use to keep us captive, paralyzed, and ashamed.

Let’s agree on something that’s true. None of these are God’s best or God’s desire for us. None of them align with freedom in Christ. And, for all people, including Christians, we will very likely experience some or all of these at some point in life. And God is still in the healing business. #healing #freedom

It’s interesting to me that few, if any, would suggest that a person is a “bad” Christ follower if they were diabetic, had high cholesterol, a heart condition, or contracted cancer. But all too frequently I hear people believing they are not “good” Christians because they deal with some kind of relational or emotional sickness. Can we be better? Does God want to help us be better? Yes, and yes!

The brain is just another organ of the body that is subject to a fallen, broken world like the rest of the body. Diseases, regardless which part of the body is affected came about because of The Fall and the introduction of sin and death and separation from God into the world. But just as with any other disease, healing is possible. Sometimes it’s medical or pharmaceutical interventions combined with cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual interventions.

If separation from God is the source of all maladies, the remedy is connectedness with Him and living and behaving in new ways that produce something different. Unfortunately, right living does not remove consequences for wrong living. Consequences remain. Moving forward, however, the thinking, feeling, and behaving part can be radically different with intentional work.

Our entire lives are a journey of increasing or decreasing emotional and spiritual health and connectedness with God – there’s no standing still because motionless equates to atrophy. The end goal is complete connectedness on the day of Christ’s return (and He completes it, read on). On that day, we will experience complete healing in every sense after seeking to follow Him faithfully. #spiritualjourney #healing #hope

We do not achieve perfection in this life. We can expect pain, trials, problems, sickness, and physical death. It’s a promise – this should not come as a surprise. Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT emphasis mine)

Freedom is found in His peace. Trouble is found in the world. He has already victoried over the world that we still live in. So, it’s already and not just yet. That mysterious in between of the everyday battles and the truth that victory in Christ is already ours.

He gives us more insight to this peace that’s available in John 14:26-27 (NLT). The Holy Spirit, or the Advocate, is Jesus’ representative that is available to each of us. Jesus says through the Holy Spirit, he will teach us everything and will remind us of everything we’ve been taught. The Holy Spirit will bring us the gift of peace Jesus says He is leaving with us. And get this: “peace of mind and heart” is what he offers. Not the stuff the world offers (chaos, confusion, strife, anxiety, depression, betrayal, sickness, disease) – he says the world cannot give us the peace He gives. “So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Easier said than done. I hear you.

Here’s what I know though: When I practice the presence of God; when I intentionally calm my mind to focus on Him, when I worship, when I soak my mind in Scripture and Truth, I’m much less inclined to be worked up about the stuff the world throws at me. I’m much less inclined to become consumed with worry. I’m much less bound to depressed thoughts and feelings. #practice #worship

Jesus knows, because he walked around in flesh and bones like us for 33 years. He knows all about anxiety, sadness, betrayal, broken relationships, and fear of the pain and death. He didn’t live free from negative human emotions, and neither will we. He knows. And He knows none of this has the final say. He has the final say. He managed by staying in close connection with the Father. It’s what he modeled for us to do in the same circumstances. #Jesus #modelemotionalhealth #modelspiritualhealth

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 (NLT))

We can experience glimpses of heaven and freedom here on earth by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. And remember, that work is not completed until we see Jesus face to face. #heaven

Note: If you are experiencing any of these issues and need help, please reach out to a supportive friend, pastor, or Christian counselor who can help guide you to the freedom available to you. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call or text 988. Hope and help are available.

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