There is a difference between self-love the world offers and Biblical self-love, but the boundary lines can at times feel vague. You can read my previous post on the four distinctive of Biblical self-love here, but for today, let’s get practical. What does Biblical self-love look like?
You may have heard the words “affirmations” or “declarations” – the power of speaking, out loud, truth over yourself. The difference for Christians comes when we get our Truth from the source – God himself! Speaking God’s truth over yourself is a powerful way to begin to accept and believe what God says about you is true – even if it feels weird to stand-in front of a mirror talking to yourself!
You may have heard the words “affirmations” or “declarations” – the power of speaking, truth over yourself out loud. The difference for Christians comes when we get our Truth from the source – God himself! Speaking God’s truth over yourself is a powerful way to begin to accept and believe what God says about you is true – even when it might not feel like it.
Most of us spend a lot of time thinking negative thoughts about ourselves, and taking the time to lean into the truth of what God says about us is important! Science shows that what we say out loud is often believed by the subconscious mind, so speak God’s truth loudly! It’s a simple but powerful way to begin to rewire our brains to not just hear God’s truth, but believe it as well.
The Psalmist talked to himself all the time! All those “oh, my soul,” moments are just him telling himself what’s what. We can (and should!) do that as well! Don’t just keep God’s word internal, but say it out loud, and address yourself.
“I am God’s masterpiece,” you might say after reading Ephesians 2:10. You might not believe it, but say it anyway.
James Bryan Smith, an author I admire who writes about discipleship, has an excellent podcast talking about this idea. I’ve often borrowed his declaration, based on several Scriptures, to speak God’s truth over myself in seasons where I found it very hard to believe myself:
God’s word is powerful and when we speak biblical affirmations over ourselves, it takes root! If you’re looking for a place to start, download my free printable of Biblical self-love affirmations here and try one each morning.
Be your own parent
I recognize that when I most need the wisdom that comes from loving myself the way God loves me, I sometimes feel the least equipped to discern the right way forward. One of the best matrixes I’ve found for discernment is to ask myself the question: What advice would I give to someone I love in this place? (Insert the name of a close friend, spouse or child here!)
Somehow, it’s so much easier to solve everyone else’s problems (I promise I was the parenting expert… before I had kids!). So swap places for a moment. If Haley was struggling with what I’m struggling with now, what would I say to her?
Sometimes our advice is gentle: take a break. Order in pizza and turn on Netflix tonight. Sometimes our advice is firm: buckle down and get this done. You’ve got this, and once it’s finished you’ll feel so much better. Sometimes our advice is urgent: this is not a safe situation and you need to find help now! Sometimes our advice is hard to hear: stop feeling sorry for yourself. Pick up a phone and call. You are not a victim.
I’ve often been surprised at the advice I’d give to others in my situation, and what’s been more surprising is how rarely I’d give myself the same kinds of permission or discipline. I’m much harder on my own work ethic, and much softer on my “it’s not my fault,” mentalities. When I turn the tables I have a bit more perspective to realize I’m not a victim, and rest is important.
And the truth is, self-love is not always about feeling beautiful and pampering. Sometimes it’s about just day in and day out parenting: are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating right? Are you spending time outdoors, and are you moving? It’s not as glamorous as I once hoped, but it absolutely makes a difference!
If you’re struggling with self-love, chances are someone has been lying to you about your worth – possibly even you. Let God’s grace soak into you and begin to believe the value He has placed on you. Chances are you can find dozens of reasons to beat yourself up – places you fell short, disappointed someone, let others down, or did some serious damage. God already knows that about you and still calls you to Him. When God says he gives grace, it’s given to us with the full knowledge of how undeserving we actually are. Biblical self-love doesn’t try to earn God’s favour – it accepts it with gratitude, knowing we could never earn it on our own.
So hang onto God’s grace – He’s got you.