The love of self is the principal component of self-love. We need to know the love of Jesus to love ourselves. A selfless love exceeds the world’s offerings.
Self-Care Isn’t Self-Love
The acknowledgment of self-care not being the same as self-love does not negate the importance of self-care. According to the Global Self-Care Federation, self-care empowers a person to take care of their own health with the resources and knowledge available to them. Self-care is an important part of a person’s overall wellbeing, enabling them to better interact with the world around them. Both self-care and self-love are essential attributes people should possess to achieve a healthy lifestyle. The reality is we are dealing with two separate things. Self-care takes care of the body while self-love takes care of the soul.
The replacement of self-love with self-care can lead to destructive patterns of behavior if one doesn’t possess a healthy love of one’s self. The void inside of a person can lead to the wrong appetites. Our desire to feel loved could lead to filling that void with potentially destructive activities disguised as self-care. In a world filled with consumerism, we often confuse loving ourselves with “pampering” ourselves. Loving ourselves isn’t what we do for ourselves; it’s how we treat ourselves. We can give ourselves a day at the spa and still talk to ourselves with self-loathing and disrespect.
Our modern society has led many of us to believe that self-care means we love ourselves. The exact opposite is often true. We are told if we cared about ourselves, we would go out and relax, have a few drinks with our friends, or other various activities we have deemed as self-love. It is often the absence of self-love that leads us astray, filling that emptiness inside us with harmful substances or activities. True self-love comes when we align ourselves with the love of Jesus.
The Complexities of Love
Love is a powerful emotion with several components. It has lost its authentic power by its chronic overuse and misuse. I believe our desperation for love has created a false sense of what genuine love even means. We long for the passionate romantic love that is so easily portrayed in movies wondering where our real love is. All while neglecting the most important person we need to be loving: ourselves. How can we love ourselves when we don’t understand what love truly means?
The Greeks were on to something when they explained the complexities of love into different components. In our immediate gratification society, we say “I love you” or “I love this” constantly. Our expectations of love continually fall short because of our misuse of the word “love.” If we had a better understanding of the complexities of love, perhaps we would experience less disappointment.
Greek Components of Love
- Agape – selfless, universal love
- Eros – romantic, passionate love
- Ludus – playful love
- Mania – obsessive love
- Philautia – self-love
- Philia – affectionate love
- Pragma – enduring love
- Storge – familial love
I believe if we had a better understanding of the complexities of love, we would be less likely to misplace our feelings of love. We must first understand love to not only give love but receive it. If we know the different components of love, we will recognize the love we are receiving to determine if it is the love we want from that individual. First, we must learn to love ourselves, and that is where Jesus comes in. If we allow ourselves to accept the love of Jesus, we can then learn what it means to truly be loved.
The Process of Self-Love Begins with Jesus’ Love
The Christian faith describes the love of Jesus as agape love, what the Greeks described as selfless love. The love of Jesus is available for any of us to receive openly without conditions. We don’t have to have a perfect past or the correct number of days we attended church to receive the love of Jesus. We can accept the love of Jesus even if we have never stepped foot in a church before. We only need to believe and ask Him into our hearts. He has been waiting for all of us; it’s never too late.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
The Bible is full of scriptures explaining the extent of Jesus’ love for all of us if we are only willing to receive it. It also explains the importance of protecting our hearts. Therefore, it is so important for us to fill the voids inside us with the love of Jesus. His love will help protect us from becoming vulnerable to unhealthy desires of love-seeking. Jeremiah 17:9 explains a shattered heart cannot be trusted. A shattered heart seeks love in all the wrong places, but there is good news. Jesus is ready to give us the love we are so desperately craving.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
Jesus is here to heal our broken hearts and bandage them, to fill those voids inside of us that cause us to search for love in the external places. When we search for love in the world, we will always fall short. He wants us to love ourselves so we can give ourselves healthy self-care instead of selfish void filling indulgences. When we fill ourselves with the love of Jesus, our empty places become filled. John 15:9 reminds us that as the Father has loved Jesus, so has He loved us. We need only remain in His love. His love is the key to your self-love. Now go get it.
Even though we only have one word for all the components of love doesn’t mean we should merely throw it out into the world without consideration. We cannot give away what we do not possess ourselves. It is an exchange of a meaningless word in the hopes it will fill the void. Self-love enables us to give and receive genuine love. The unfailing, never-ending love of Jesus is the key to unlocking our ability to love ourselves.