My toddler is picking up new phrases daily, imitating the actions of everyone she encounters. Lately she's taken to telling everyone "Have a good day!". This weekend, she added "You're special" to that. Every time she greets someone or says her goodbye's she says " Have a good day! You're special!"
When she first said it to me, it did make me feel special. I must admit that this affirmation made be very happy. I can see it in the faces of strangers too. How often are we told, as adults, that we're special? How many of us long for someone to affirm our lives? How many of us live daily in hopes of obtaining approval?
Why is it that so many of us desperately want the recognition of others? Why do we want someone to look at us and say "You're _____"? Fill in any positive affirmation: smart, good, talented etc.
One of the ten commandments is to love your neighbors as yourself. This implies that we must first love ourselves. Yet not many people actually can look into a mirror and honestly say that they love themselves. The reflection they see doesn't stir up feelings of happiness and contentment. Whether it be that they're disappointed with their appearance, their career, their relationships or the kind of person they are, they just cannot find it within to love themselves.
Without any appreciation for ourselves, without any internal belief in our own self-worth, how can we appreciate or find others to be worthy of our love? Or rather, let's consider love, as it's described in I Corinthians 13. This chapter tells us if we do not have love, we gain nothing. This is not more true, then when we apply it to ourselves.
Are you patient with yourself? When trying something new, do you give yourself time to learn or do you give up, exasperated when you can't figure it out? Are you kind to yourself? Or do you criticize and find fault in all that you say and do? When bad things happen to you, do you believe they happened because you deserve it? Do you tell yourself that you caused it? Do you expect yourself to live and speak a certain way? Do you hold yourself to an unreasonable ideal and resent yourself and put yourself down because you cannot reach it?
Have you ever noticed, it is the unhappy, envious, bitter person that is the most difficult to get along with? If we do not love ourselves, it is no wonder why so many find it difficult to love their neighbor.
Consider it. Have you ever lost your patience with anyone? Do people, in general, just annoy you? Have you ever been unkind to anyone? Or outright rude? Do you ever envy your neighbor's new car? His house? His new grill? Do you wonder why he has all these things, while you don't? Have you ever resented a co-worker's promotion? Or envied the recognition he gets from the boss? Or worse, have you ever been glad to find out a co-worker made a mistake and was fired?
There's a saying that goes: a rich person isn't the one who has the most, but needs the least. A person that can be self-motivated, who can find worth in himself and celebrate it, is one who is rich in love. Waiting for love to come from externally, or waiting for someone to validate us, will only leave us desperately needy. Finding love around us is great, but it won't matter how many people love you if you can't love yourself first.
It shouldn't be that hard, especially when you consider that our God in heaven loves us and values us. The Bible already tells us we're special. Psalm 139:14: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Luke 12:6-8 tells us that God values us so much he has every hair on our head counted. And John 3:16 tells us that he loves us so much, that he gave his own son for us. Now, knowing that God Almighty hold us in such esteem, why then do we continue to desperately long for someone else to tell us we're worthy and loved?
It's time we all start to believe in ourselves, reminding ourselves each day that we are indeed special and worthy. Above all, can you find it in your heart to love yourself?