by Monica Hernandez
Another St. Valentine’s Day is here and we will be loaded with flowers, chocolates and beautiful cards with wonderful rubrics on love. Our ears will be filled with ideas and discourses on the nature of love, the need and admonishment to love, and the words: “Be my valentine” or “I love you...”
In addition to the yuletide season, at this time of the year, it is common to think of loving and forgiving others and being loved and forgiven in return. We try to follow the popular scriptures on love, and the ones we hear most from pulpits are: “Let brotherly love continue...” and “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” also "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well" (James 2:8, KJV).
To “do well” in loving others does not mean to be all gushy in our feelings to each other at all times. It does not mean a weak dependency on others for meaningless commingling and attention. It means to support others, spiritually and physically, as best we can. It means being kind to others and giving encouragement in its due time. It means avoiding to do harm to others whether in thought, word or deed, just as we would avoid hell.
The old adage: “Do unto others as you would be done by” still stands. We all want good happenings in our lives at all times, therefore doing good to others is the way to go.
Many times, we easily forgive others, but could never quite forgive themselves for saying or doing things that are not acceptable, and often run those negative scenarios in their minds—over and over again—setting ourselves up for more despondency and self-pity.
How are we to love our neighbours as ourselves? We cannot love others in the way we ought if we have a poor image of ourselves—if we are continually blaming ourselves and putting ourselves down. If we are to love others in a manner that is appropriate, then we would first have to love and appreciate ourselves, not in a haughty or arrogant manner, but in a manner that reflects God’s love to us.
And we can only love ourselves in an appropriate manner when we recognize that we are each created in the “image and likeness of God,” and God did not create us with values that are poor and unworthy of His good pleasure. Everything He created was deemed “good” by Him and when He created us, His masterpiece, He gave us “dominion over all the earth...”
We have all gone our own way from God but He loves us and is wooing us back to Him by His Spirit. He is willing to help us erase the effects of past mistakes if we will return to Him. When we learn to respond to God’s love in a positive way, forgiving ourselves of past shortcomings and moving forward, we are more likely to love ourselves and our neighbour who also is “created in the image and likeness of God.”.
The primary understanding must be to love and appreciate ourselves as God loves and appreciates us, then extend that love and appreciation to others as best we can.
At this time when love is in the air, in addition to sharing loving thoughts, words and actions with others, let us also have love for ourselves even as God loves us—in a sense of acceptance of who we are, forgiving ourselves of past mistakes and making better plans for our future and well-being. Remember, God is not finished with us yet!
God loves you and me just as we are and is willing to help us erase the effects of past mistakes if we will return to Him in true repentance, communion and prayer.
In the process of our spiritual growth, let us not be hard on ourselves for past shortcomings on wisdom and good judgment, but make a decision to rise up from self-criticism and condemnation. The Bible says that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ.”
Brotherly love begins with you and me loving ourselves as God loves us. Lift up your heart to God’s love and as you receive, share it with others as best you can, thereby expanding your horizons and increasing your good. And to the extent you are open and receptive to the love of God is the extent you are able to love others unconditionally.
Help me Lord, to accept your divine love and express that love to others in kindly thoughts, words and actions. Thank you Father.
Suggested Readings: Psalm 133:1, Isaiah 43:18-19, Matthew 22:37-40.
BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS
Ask about the workbook, “Breaking Through the Barriers” by Monica Hernandez. This book can be a helpful resource to you in overcoming fear, anger, worry and anxiety and other hurdles in your life.