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Considering Love (not the mushy kind)

We had a sermon at church recently about loving your neighbor as yourself. (Refer to Mark 12:30-31). The premise was that we cannot love our neighbor in the way God asked us to if we do not also love ourselves. This doesn't mean making idols of ourselves, in the way that a lot of people do. This means loving yourself because you are a masterpiece, formed by God's hands. When you are able to love yourself in a healthy way, then you can love the people around you because you recognize that they are also a masterpiece, just made in a different way than you were, and that God put them in your path for a reason.

There may be a person who is the most sour, orneriest, biggest pain in the backside, and God put them in your path for a reason.

I work with some really great people and some major energy vampires. Those are the people who suck all the joy and life out of the room, and I want to avoid them like the actual plague. However, God put them in my life for a specific reason. As a God- follower, I should be kind and loving to the people that I really want to avoid, but when I'm not doing a good job of loving myself, I don't do a good job of loving people around me. When I don't do a good job of loving God, I don't do a good job of loving myself or anyone else. I become the very person I want to avoid.

So how do we do a good job of loving God?

What happens to a friendship when you go without speaking for a period of time? That relationship suffers, right? It feels awkward and uncomfortable when you do go back to talk to that person. It's the same thing when you go without talking to God. That relationship suffers and you are more susceptible to attacks from outside sources because you are not shored up against them. Spend time with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, being obedient to Him.

How do we do a good job of loving ourselves?

The topic I have had cross my mind and my social media feed a lot lately is being tired and needing genuine rest. I don't mean sleeping for 36 hours straight, though I'm sure there are people who need that. I'm not that person though. I need things that bring my soul rest and so do you. I need to spend time in nature in the sunshine, preferably barefoot, because that is one thing that helps to rebalance my system. I need worship music, or at least Christian music, because I function best with music and have always been that way. I need to be physically active and eating healthy foods because even though my body wants burgers and fries and peach ice cream, it needs vegetables and fruits and good protein. A little peach ice cream with honey never hurt though! What do you need to feel rested and whole again?

Have you heard the theory that our toxic traits tend to be the opposite of our love languages? My love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, and physical touch, so my toxic traits are secluding myself, negative self-talk, and avoiding affection from the people I feel safe with. It was interesting to realize how accurate that theory is when I'm spending time in the valley.

How do we do a good job of loving others?

Our society is incredibly divisive right now. Everyone wants to be heard and wants to be right, but no one is willing to listen to another person's perspective or be willing to be wrong for the sake of learning. People are angry and being bombarded with too much information and no real clue how to process all of it. How do we love someone who is screaming at us for being different? One thing I said earlier is that every person is a masterpiece that is handcrafted by God. Every single one. There are some who have made some interesting choices that we don't understand or agree with, but Jesus didn't say to agree with our neighbor or understand our neighbors, He said to LOVE our neighbors. Smile and wave at the person across the street. Talk to the mom waiting for her kid to compete at the track meet. Be polite to the cashier at the grocery store, even if they were a little abrupt with you. Send a card to a friend to just thank them for being a friend. Pay a compliment to someone. Listen to other people when they are talking to you. Listen to hear them, not just respond. Be the person who lights up the room, not the one who sucks the joy out of it.

Considering This: Mark 12:30-31 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these." Which of these areas do you need to make a priority? Is there a specific topic that you have begun to worship instead of God, maybe unknowingly?

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