"I remember sitting on the in front of the sliding glass door in my home, wrapped in a blanket, my forehead pressed to the cool glass. I was singing softly to myself, chanting, crying, certain my life was over. I kept asking why, crying out for divine relief from the pain, and I received a profound answer: 'I love you,' a voice said. 'Why can't you love you?' The "I" was God, who ever-so-gently, reminded her that even though she had been humanly betrayed, she was divinely loved and worthy of that love. Most importantly, she was deserving of her own."
This story comes from the lips of Sue Patton Thoele, my dearest mentor for life, who, like me has struggled with how to love myself—more. She shared it with me as I was interviewing her for my book Your Truest Self. Sue was the Holy Woman being portrayed in Chapter 6 from which this story is taken: "I Cultivate Compassion for Myself."
What Sue has taught me over the years, by her very example, is this: I can't even come close to having compassion for myself--living kindly and gently with myself—if I don't love myself.
And there's the rub.
So many of us have been taught that loving ourselves is bad. Loving yourself has been confused with being narcissistic—and this is simply not true. "Nor is it egotism, greed, self-righteousness, self-involvement, stubbornness, or conceit, all of which have given real self-love a bad name," writes Daphne Rose Kingma in her book, Loving Yourself: Four Steps to a Happier You. "Rather it is the singing spring from which each of us can become our most authentic self."
In fact, genuine self-love, tenderly cultivated over time does this:
"From the well of quiet acceptance, from the practice of a gentle unconditional care of ourselves, we can reach out to love others with exquisite generosity and bounteous open hearts." Thank you, Daphne!
If self-love was selfish, how could it result in something so beautiful as a heart overflowing with love for others?
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.