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Are you a "Lover of Self" or Simply Loving Yourself?

It's time we have a talk about the difference between self love and self worship. In the last few years the internet has been buzzing with the phrases "self love" and "self care", and on their own the phrases sound great! We hear phrases like "Self care isn't selfish", but it really can be when it's not practiced correctly. What has been concerning me lately is the movements behind some of these phrases are built on such shaky foundations that the meanings begin to be more about self worship, self indulgence, and self gratification.

This topic is so important to me. I have a passion to see captives set free, and to see people walking in authentic identity.

Hear me out...well, hear God out first...

"For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate morally weak and spiritually-dwarfed women weighed down by [the burden of their] sins, easily swayed by various impulses, always learning and listening to anybody who will teach them, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:2-7 AMP

So, based on this passage there is a clear difference between narcissistic, self-focused love and the God-focused love (the love that is not any of those things above). What really separates the two is unhealed trauma. Especially in the case of those who have internalized self hatred, self sabotage, and self destruction for so long...flipping the switch to self love and self care can be detrimental if the underlying trauma is not dealt with. You can't love yourself if you don't know yourself. Forcing yourself to love a false identity (the person you became or created as a result of trauma) will only lead to more mental and emotional damage. Each and every one of those character traits in the passage above can be traced back to trauma. You can't switch from hating yourself to loving yourself after you've spent years hating yourself and/or not even knowing yourself.

There are so many unhealed and broken ministers, counselors, coaches, business owners and more promoting self love or self care and doing exactly what the Bible says. They are working their way into the homes and lives of women who are also unhealed from their trauma. They are using this false promise of mental and emotional freedom as a way to get paid...and the women they claim to be helping become victims in repeated cycles of mental and emotional distress because the root of their trauma was not dealt with. You can't truly take someone into a place you haven't been. You won't know what freedom looks like if you haven't experienced it. You can imagine what you believe it to be, or what you want it to be, but telling women to put themselves first without the context of healing is dangerous because putting yourself first is not the same as healing.

So, after all of this talk about self love...what does it really look like?

I'm all for true self love. The love that comes from learning who you are in Christ and finally becoming that person. The love that comes from seeing yourself the way Christ sees you. The love that comes from true identity and purpose. I am also all about self care. Taking care of your spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs in order to stay healthy in those areas. I just know that your love and care will be broken as long as you are broken. You can't self love and self care your way into healing and freedom. Self care is and expression of loving yourself, and if you are still struggling with self loathing...your self care will actually look more like unhealthy coping mechanisms.

As stated before, true self love requires is not the catalyst to healing.

Self love looks like finally recognizing that you are enough. It's knowing that you don't have anything to prove to anyone anymore. Self love is realizing you no longer have to act out of the dysfunction you experienced growing up. Self love is not lying to yourself or others, it's realizing you are free to be your authentic self as you were created to be in Christ. Self love is realizing that the measure of love you've been given to truly love yourself is only a fraction of the love you receive from the Father. Without knowing what His love is you cannot love yourself. Self love is rooted in Christ. You cannot love others unless you properly love yourself.

Self love can be selfish when the root of it is unhealed trauma. It becomes more like self worship. The world begins to revolve around you, and it's all about what you want. You blame others for your mental or emotional instability. You're so angry and hurt you decide your self love will look like cutting people off instead of setting healthy boundaries and expectations. Your supposed self love looks like creating more walls and barriers as a way to cope with hurt. Your pain and exhaustion will have you posting passive aggressive social media memes aimed at others to try and make them hurt like you're hurting instead of having a conversation with them about how you're feeling. Self worship is rooted in self. There is no other focus. You're so broken that you seek relief from the heaviness so you're going to do whatever you need to in order to feel happy. You need that reward boost that comes from serotonin, so you engage in so-called self care which is really unhealthy coping mechanisms or distractions that will allow you not to focus on the healing you need. Self love makes room for others faults. It doesn't seek to harm. You are representing God's love towards yourself and when you're healthy you also represent that love to others.

Your self care looks like wellness in every area of your life. Healed self care looks like adding wellness and healing to your spirit, soul, and body. It's decompressing after a long day, but not escaping. Self care is getting alone with God or spending some time alone to be refreshed, it's not isolating or shutting down. It's taking care of your personal hygiene and grooming...and maybe even putting on some makeup, but it's not getting dressed up for selfies to project a facade of happiness.

...I think you get the point...

Healed self love, and healed self care does not look like what this world is telling us it looks like. Healing is required. The Healer is required. Humility is required.

It is possible to enjoy loving yourself without being a lover of self.

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