Yesterday I work up at 4:00 with thoughts swirling in my head from the day before and apparently in my subconscious all night about how we are called to love others but what about self-love? We are called to live in service to others, but does that mean that loving ourselves is bad?
In our society, we're supposed to love ourselves, be good to ourselves, and ultimately seek pleasure for ourselves above all others. It's all about our rights first and any form of responsibility second. While we should always strive to take care of our bodies, our faith calls us to 'love others as we love ourselves.' (Matt 22:39) So can there possibly be a balance between the two?
In my semi-conscious state the other night, I kept recalling various tenants of the faith involving our bodies and love. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and we are called to take care of them. We are also part of the Body of Christ in which we are part of the whole of the Church (1 Cor. 12:27). Finally and most importantly, we are created in the image of God. If we are to love God and God is love than it only stands to reason that we do have to love ourselves or we won't be able to give that love to God or to anyone else. Of course if we truly love God and love His creation then loving ourselves as His created beings would naturally follow. Seems that one without the other can't exist.
The true test of how we love ourselves is how that self-love is manifested in our actions. If we choose to spend all our pursuits reaching goals that don't fulfill our vocation, make the world a better place, or give glory to God, then ultimately our self-love will be selfish love and not the love of oneself that discerns what God's will is in our lives.
We all have talents that God has bestowed on us. If we recognize those talents and use them properly then we will not only love ourselves but love the Creator who gave those talents to us.