Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Greatest Love of All?

Joshilyn Jackson recently wrote this on her blog in regards to Whitney Houston:

...I never forgave her for THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL. I HATE that song. It was our class song, too, UGH. For the record, I voted for Rock Lobster.

If you listen to the WORDS...the song is about floppy-quartz-healed-my-soul-crystal-mystic-too-much-therapy-ese love. Puke.

Learning to love yourself is NOT the greatest love of all. Loving yourself is EASY---every sociopath and narcissist on earth can manage it in a dead sleep. We are BORN loving only ourselves and 90% of our problems come from staying there.

Actual love is about service. It’s learning to love other people that is hard. Other people are IRRITATING and they DO NOT DO WHAT YOU WANT. They have NEEDS and SMELLS and STUPID OPINIONS. But when folks can manage it, they find loving other people makes them helpful and kind. When folks are helpful and kind, they love themselves as a by product of ACTUALLY BECOMING LOVEABLE, and that’s a good idea.

We love the thing we serve.

I thought this was very interesting and mostly right. I grew up in an environment where having a good self-esteem was seen as a bit of a hokey idea. But I didn't have a good self-esteem. For me, learning to forgive myself and give grace to myself and like myself were all very revolutionary and are still in process. Being told, in fact, that God loved me regardless of the big huge seemingly unforgivable mistakes I had made and that He loved me THE SAME as if I had never done them was actually very big. And those words needed to be spoken to me verbally, and they were followed by something about loving myself.

I do, however, know that Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving ourselves is obviously something that's assumed we do. I think that it's true that we serve ourselves. We eat when we're hungry, we download music we want to listen to, and we read the blogs we want to read. I think all of those things are possible, though, without liking oneself. Don't we all have at least moments when we think..."wow, I really don't like myself?"

I would love to hear your thoughts about this. And your personal experiences if you're bold enough to share. And if you hate this song as much as Joshilyn. (for the record, I don't really like either, but I do believe that children are the future and need to be loved and nurtured.)


Sarah said...

My husband and I have gotten into fights over this topic. Seriously.

He believes the love your neighbor verse focuses on loving ourselves.

I think we are already all selfish and the verse is saying to get over ourselves already and reach out.

I can empathize with you though. My mom rolls her eyes at the words self-esteem, to the point where I thought I wasn't supposed to ever attempt to feel good about myself.

But I think her point (which I didn't understand as a child, but now I do) was that people don't need to feel good about themselves when they're screw-ups. They need to have Jesus and feel good about themselves because they belong to Him.

She once told me about a study she saw where it compared the self-esteem and the school performance of students in various countries. American kids felt the best about their performance but scored lowest in the countries that were studied.

I think we need to teach our kids that they are special no matter what they can or can't do, but ultimately, their confidence needs to come from God's acceptance, not worldly self-esteem.

Amy said...

I don't think the verse is focusing on loving ourselves at all, but it's interesting that it's included there. I've heard people say that you can't love others without loving yourself and I think you can't love others without accepting yourself..otherwise your "love" for them is more of a way of trying to feel better about yourself.

I think our worth comes from being God's creation and yes being loved by Him and that's where the worth of others lies as well. I feel more posts coming from this...

Krista said...

I have struggled with this for a long time. Sometimes it makes it hard to do anything because it feels like it's useless.
I never thought of that verse as meaning that you had to love yourself though, interesting...
It's easy to serve yourself, not so easy to serve your neighbor in the same way you would yourself. Maybe our modern interpretation should replace love with serve. At least in my house!

Jen said...

I agree that you have to be comfortable in your own skin and have enough confidence and self esteem that you aren't looking for it in someone else. I try (but most often don't succeed) to love God first, then others as I love myself. To me, that means if you are feeling down on yourself and have no relationship with God, you are running on empty and have nothing to give to another person. I'm not talking about acts of service. Of course you can do good deeds. But as far as being in a loving relationship (spouse, child, lover, friend) I'm going to have to agree with pre-crazy Whitney on this one. (But that song is pretty annoying.)

Amy said...

Well said Jen.

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