“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.” Matthew 22:37-39
We have heard these verses quoted and hopefully take them to heart and practice them daily. We are to put God first and love our neighbors. I do look at the last verse differently now. I have come to realize that when you love your neighbor as yourself, you are supposed to have love for yourself too. Not a distorted love, that is selfish. It is a love that is gentle and not critical. I have lived my life as my own worst enemy. Shame could have been my middle name.
I have dealt with an eating disorder, gave depression and anxiety a foothold. I felt suffocated daily. These are some of the things I would tell myself, “You are so stupid, you know the Lord, get it together.” “Why can’t you get better?” “You are letting people down.” “You are so fat and ugly, no one would want to look at you.” “No one wants to be your friend. You bring everyone down.” “Seriously, people live so much worse than you, why can’t you just be happy?” Lovely, isn’t it? Would you talk to your friends that way? If you heard a person speak to someone you love like that, you would knock them into next week.
I have been trying to purposefully relax. I try to do it on my own, but I forget or get distracted with the anxiety. A good friend of mine does Somatic Experiencing work. It is best defined as “a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences).” Basically, we learn to cope a certain way (the way we think is correct) to handle life’s traumas. When I get anxious, I begin to panic, because my body thinks it is in danger and wants to get out of the situation (fight or flight). I could be in line at Costco or at school pick up and want to leave because I am feeling strangled or nauseous. I tell myself I am only in line, it isn’t anything to be concerned with, but my body reacts as if I am going to speak in front of 10,000 people or go jump out of a plane. I get down on myself and think to myself, there are people suffering diseases or having to flee their home country due to a natural disaster or war, why can’t you stand in line or go to the dentist without hyperventilating. I am trying to convince myself to count my blessings, but instead, I just want to run screaming for the hills. When I explain to my friend, how I feel and how upset I am about not getting better, she tells me “be gentle with yourself.” She explains, my body has to re-learn how to handle stress. It won’t happen overnight. Practice and more practice.
God is on our side. He wants us to thrive and carry out His will. He will equip us and guide us. The enemy will throw everything our way, to stop us and disable us. It is exhausting to think of it as a daily battle but that is what it is. Be relieved in knowing the victory will come and there is no time we have to finish this by. Stop blaming yourself and others. Many times we try to accomplish much to impress people we don’t know or like. Look forward and be gentle with yourself.
“Dear Heavenly Father, Renew my mind today. Help me remember your word and that you love me. Remind me that I am enough and that my standards are to match your way, not of the world’s way. Protect my mind when I feel unsettled. Guide my thoughts to heavenly places. Steady my physical body to respond calmly to situations and circumstances rather than react. Father God, allow me to let you fight the battles in this world. Thank you for freedom and victory and being an over comer! In Jesus’ Name! AMEN!”