‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’
MATTHEW 22:39 (THE MESSAGE)
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that it was OK for me to love myself first before I even attempted to love others. I always thought that this was so selfish. I remember asking God, “Do you not ask me to love others before myself?” “Do you not ask us to lay down our lives for others?”
But the greater question was what did loving mean? And the answer was that the action of love is caring. I learned that it meant I needed to take care of myself before I should – or even would be capable – of taking care of others. If I did not take care of myself –love myself – tend to my own wounds first – how could I possibly be strong enough or wise enough to love others well and bring to others the comfort and empathy that is needed.
Another step in learning to love myself was allowing myself to receive the love and care from others – from God. This was very difficult for me – it was much more difficult to receive rather than to give. But I learned that in order to love others – I needed to receive and experience that love – the caring and comfort – first.
Tending Our Own Wounds First
Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.
When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.
HENRI NOUWEN (DAILY MEDITATION)
The tending of our own wounds first – our healing – opens the door to our wounded brothers’ and sisters’ hearts so that we can pass on the love and comfort that we received from God and others. Remember to take care of first things first and that means you!
He comforts us in all our troubles
so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled,
we will be able to give them
the same comfort God has given us.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:4 (NLT)
On the journey with you,