Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I've Been Thinking

Someone I love very, very much asked me recently if I really believe you have to love yourself before you can love others. My immediate answer was "Yes," but then I struggled to articulate why I believe that is essential. I've been thinking about this principle a lot since then... the whole "Love others as you do yourself" thing. I happen to know for myself that when the Savior commands us to love others he also commands us to love ourselves. Because I'm so darn much happier when I can feel love for my friend Marie, strange and sideways as she sometimes is. I have also had times when I have not loved myself, but I still loved other people. So I think I was wrong in saying definitely you have to love yourself to love others... it's just lots better. I have made it my new mission in life to discover why we should love ourselves, so that we may better love others. I'll come back to this subject from time to time as new thoughts and points enter my little pea-pickin' mind. Today, though, I would like to get reason number one off my brain, since it got pounded into my head last night during the sleeping hours:


Look at this picture:
I like this slightly odd picture, and here's why. I am a Mother. Katelyn is a daughter. Now look at my Mother face. It is tired. It is exhausted. It is joyful. It is powerful. It is so, so happy. Because there is my arms is my daughter. A perfect, celestial being right there in my hands. A beautiful little girl that I do not doubt -- I KNOW -- is a Child of God. Now there may be times in tiny Katelyn's life that maybe she won't know that she is a precious Child of God. But I KNOW. I know without a doubt that my daughter is divine. I know nothing she ever does can change that. I know that I didn't decide one day to have my egg be fertilized and by sheer willpower of my own create this magnificent person. I know God did that and I got to be the vessel. I KNOW she is special. More special then she can ever know, but I KNOW just an inkling of how special she is. I love her as only her Mother can love her. Even as she begins her journey and there will certainly be times she drives me crazy and makes me wacko and tests my patience to the limits, I will always KNOW she is incredibly worthy of love. Worthy of love from others and worthy to love herself.

Part of why I know this is because I am a daughter. And I KNOW that even when I don't see that I am worthy of love, my Mother loves me. That even when I feel retarded, she knows I am special. She thinks I am clever and good -- better then I ever feel I am. And I know she loves me. She is my Mother. She KNOWS things about me I can never know about myself. She helped create me. She helped create who I am becoming. She has and will forgive me seventy times seventy million for my short comings and foibles and crazy moments. She has to. She is my Mother, and she doesn't even really have to try all that hard. She is bound by the natural laws of Motherhood. And just like my Mother taught me to love others, to think of them before I think of myself, to serve them before I seek my own comfort, she wants one more thing: she wants me to love myself. Because she knows that just like I am worthy of love from others, I am worthy to love myself.
My Mother knows this because she is a daughter. Because she has a Mother that had that same look on her face as she first held her in her arms that I had on my face when I held my own. A Mother who helped create her, who loves her more then she can ever understand. Because her Mother KNOWS her daughter is a Child of God. She KNOWS she is special and good and noble and kind. She sees the good things and doesn't care so much about the bad. Because she understands who the daughter she helped create is becoming. She is bound by an umbilical cord of a spiritual nature that can never be severed. She KNOWS her daughter is worthy of love from others, and she is worthy to love herself.

And so and so on, back a thousand generations.
Mothers and daughters, Fathers and Sons, Parents and their children.

And it's one simple thing that parents extend to their children so unendingly that seems so hard to extend to ourselves. And that thing is MERCY.

If we can learn to extend a little mercy to ourselves, we will naturally learn to love the person we are becoming. We won't be so angry, so discouraged, so filled with loathing. Instead of walking further into the darkness because of our frustration with ourselves, we can shrug our shoulders, think "You know what? I'm improving. I'll be better next time. I'm just a rough stone rolling." and walk further and further into the comfort of light. Because that is what our parents do for us. And exactly the kind of mercy they (and our Father in Heaven) want us to offer to ourselves.

And I think when we are whole, or on our way to whole, that is when we can truly love others.

One more picture:
I love this strange little picture, and here's why: look at the hands reaching out to help me. Stronger then my own, more then my own, reaching out to help me. And that help is there for all of us, whether seen or unseen. Those hands will help us until we have the strength to do it on our own.


Kyle & Alicia said...

You are one Amazing person Marie! I totally agree! I had never thought of it like that before, but you are so right. I think we all need to realize this. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and important principle.

Jen said...

Very nice.

Tara said...

I'm in awe at your constant insightfulness and your willingness and ability to so freely share it. I'm so inspired by you. Thank you.

Cory Reese said...

The look on your face is a look common to all parents. It looks like resignation. Resignation to the fact that we willingly gave up a truly restful night's sleep for at least the next 18 years. Definitely worth it though.

Ducksoup said...

beautiful post rie. you are amazing! i wish i had your insightfulness!

Dan,Lisa,Zeak,Jake,Kaci said...

Thanks for sharing that message. Something we all need to think about more for sure.