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On loving oneself


Scripture:   Mark 12:28-34

Lord,  you have told me that I am to love God with all my heart,  soul,  mind and strength,  and my neighbour as myself.

That's a daunting task.   How can I do both?   If I put you first of all and my neighbour next,  doesn't that mean that my own desires and interests must come far down the list?   There won't be much time for my own self-cultivation,  interests and desires.

My neighbour,  you taught me,  is anyone who needs my help.   Serving him could be an exhausting commitment.   I might end up a grudging martyr  -  narrow,  driven,  and unlovable.   Must I never be able to allow myself a small luxury,  a light-hearted break or a small extravagance without feeling guilty?

You call me to love my neighbour as I love myself.   You have given me this one life to live.   Must I not cherish my own being  -  body,  mind and soul?   My life journey needs time for leisure and opportunity if I am to grow in every aspect of my life.   What use can I be to others if I remain inwardly stunted by self-neglect?

I may spend my waking hours on a frantic effort to accomplish good works,  to answer every claim others make on me,  but there are only so many hours in the day and I have limited strength.   Should I learn occasionally to say,  "No",  to choose between clashing obligations,  to leave space for my own self-cultivation and re-creation?

Teach me,  Lord,  the difference between selfish indulgence and true self care,  when to make space for myself and when to forget myself in another's service.   Save me,  Lord,  from living with eyes blinkered to my neighbour's need,  but set me free also to sit down gladly at the rich banquet of life you have set before me.


©  Selwyn Dawson


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