We are in the month of Valentine’s Day, when we focus on love. What might seem like a detour, I’m writing today not about expressing love for your beloved, but about showing love for yourself. When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” he presumed that we love ourselves. There are good reasons that we do so. Our existence is a precious gift from God that he entrusts to us. We are marvelously made. Our eyes alone are an intricate invention. God loves us and values us to the extent that he became one of us so that we might have eternal life with him. (To deepen your understanding of God’s incredible love for you, read my book “A Love Affair with God: Twelve Traits”! See http://bitly.ws/onQe)
Our loving God gave us a free will so that we can care for our gift of life or damage it.
Here are a few ways to show yourself a little love. I don’t always follow them. They are goals. (Fr. Mehok once said that when a parishioner accused a priest of not practicing what he preached, the priest countered, “Well, at least I don’t preach what I practice”!)
Take care of your body that enables you to do a great many things like sing, speak, read, hug. Go to the doctor when your body hurts. (But sometimes it will even heal itself!) Feed it healthy foods in right amounts, sacrificing sweets at times and second or third helpings. Your body needs to move, so go for walks outside, exercise, dance. Treat it to fragrant body lotion. Get enough sleep. Take naps would you need to. Get a massage. Go for a haircut or a new style. Wear a mask to protect your body.
Take care of your spirit. From time to time do something that makes you happy. Think of pleasant memories. Go through photo albums of these. Splurge and purchase something that will give you delight. Soak in the bathtub for a while. Maybe take a bubble bath and have a scented candle burning. Watch a comedy or read a humorous book. Spend time with someone who always lifts your spirits. Rest from work and just be. Watch the snowflakes fall. Listen to your favorite music. View a sunrise or sunset. Play a game.
Take care of your mind. Learn something new: take up a hobby like stamp collecting or crocheting, master a language, take a course, expand your vocabulary. Work puzzles like wordle, sudoku, and crossword puzzles. Read a challenging book, not a fluffy romance but one that requires effort.
Take care of your soul. Devote extra time to prayer. Sit quietly and ponder how much God loves you. Read a spiritual book, especially the Bible, God’s Word to you. Perform an act of charity, which will also lift your spirits. Carry out a spiritual or corporal work of mercy. (If you forgot what these are, see the list at the end of this post.) Go to confession. If you are carrying the burden of holding a grudge, forgive. Unclutter your belongings.
When you love yourself, you will have a sense of well-being. Moreover, this love will radiate from you to others. And it will please God and make him glad that he gave you the gift of life. By loving yourself you will be fully alive. Remember St. Irenaeus’s words: “The glory of God is man (sic) fully alive.”
• What else can we do to show that we cherish ourselves and show God we appreciate his gift?
A man in New Jersey wrote a book mainly for youth about a young Catholic man during 17th persecution of the Church in Japan. It looks worth exploring. See https://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com/2021/11/interview-with-michael-t-cibenko-author.html
Corporal Works of Mercy:
Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit prisoners, bury the dead.
Spiritual Words of Mercy:
Admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, pray for the living and the dead.