Given the recent diagnosis of bipolar (either type 2 or cyclothymia, I’m guessing – my clinical psychologist doesn’t like labels) in addition to several other diagnoses I’ve received over the years, I’ve realized that I don’t really know what it means to love myself.
Jesus gave just two commandments: Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. These encompass both the law and the prophets.
But what, exactly, is love?
In the Greek, the word used in these statements of the Lord is “agapao”. Not “agape” as I thought, though “agape” is clearly related and taken from the former. Agapao, however, indicates an intimacy, an intense relationship between two individuals. So that’s my starting point.
There’s a lot I want to get into here, but let’s dive into intimacy for a minute. You can check out the primary definitions of “intimate” here:
but I’m not going to address official definitions, really – which is strange for me because usually that’s my first recourse when I want to know about something. But I’m learning that definitions only go so far. Especially when it comes to intimacy.
Intimacy isn’t just defined. It means something. It means letting someone else in. It means sharing your world with them. Sharing your secrets, your fears, your shame, your confusion, your tears, your smiles, your excitement. In the context of a marriage, it means sharing your body, your comforts, your likes and dislikes, your furniture (I know, that’s deep).
So it is with intimacy with God. He knows it all anyway, but intimacy involves the act of sharing. God doesn’t usually take things by force from us, unless He knows it is for our benefit in the long run. And He doesn’t allow things to be taken from us unless He intends to redeem and restore those things. But I’m bunny-trailing. My point is that sharing things with God is part of the intimacy you have with Him. He wants you to share with Him, not just expect that He knows it all and you have a pass on engaging in the relationship.
That’s the first part.
Then: what is a heart, a soul, and a mind?
You can do all the research you want in Strong’s concordance, which will – again – give you the proper definitions of these terms in the Greek (and it’s not like English… heart has many definitions). The overarching idea here, though, is that we are to love God with ALL that we are. Our thoughts, our emotions, our wills, our intentions, our actions, our everything. Nothing gets left out when you consider all three of these terms.
Okay, so we’re supposed to have an intimacy with God and share with him, and we’re supposed to do that using every faculty we have. And the term “agape” itself indicates a seeking, a searching out, a longing for, without receiving anything in return or finding something praiseworthy in the object of my affection (which is obviously not applicable to God, but sometimes it does feel like it). So with all that I am, I’m supposed to seek, search out, and long for Him, even when he doesn’t seem worthy of it.
So… practically… how do I do that? And how does that then reflect onto others? And before I can reflect that onto others, how do I reflect that onto myself?
Love is patient.
Patient means to be “longsuffering”. It means “long-tempered”. Love that definition. Tempered connotes something level. Not too hot, not too cold, but rather appropriately heated for the circumstances. Slow to anger, slow to punish.
So, item number 1 – love God.
Keeping in mind that I love because He first loved me (1 John 4:19), I’ve tried to think about times when God has clearly been patient with me. I know that my sin is a daily affair, and that there’s no time in my life when God hasn’t been demonstrated utter patience, but I mean times when He could have snapped, lightning-zapped me from Heaven. Times that I felt I deserved it, but He didn’t. Still asking for more clarity on that. I know the weight of my sin, but I guess I don’t understand the magnitude of it. Praying that He will reveal that. I hope it breaks my heart.
Item number 2 – love others as you love yourself.
This seems to imply that I need to love myself well before I can love others well.
So today’s question in tandem with the first: how can I become more patient with myself?
I think this might take a few days. So much for my Type A personality’s hope of getting through this study in a week or two…