The Two Most Important Commandments
The idea of how we take care of ourselves is a root issue in health.
Some will point to an often repeated illustrative example of a mother on a plane in trouble- "Put your oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child". Of course, the idea here is that if you run out of resources you won't be able to take care of your child and this is the root of the self-care dogma.
Others will say that it is selfish to put yourself, your needs and your health FIRST...that we are to put other people before us. It is a cultural belief that is thought to be rooted in Christian dogma.
But is it?
In Matthew 22: 36-40. Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is... in effect he's being asked to cut to the chase- what's the main idea Jesus? Sum it up for a world that reads a meme and doesn't take time for the whole book!
Jesus says- it's two things.
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Then he says- basically everything else that you are asked to do by God hangs on that.
For a while now I've been watching our culture value the idea that we must sacrifice ourselves for others- you were told to mask for others, get a shot for others, set aside your truth/needs/beliefs/morals... for the sake of others. Or the other favorite- WWJD? This is often represented as Biblical.
So let's break down the "greatest commandment".
Starting with 2. If I am to love my neighbor as myself, this suggests that I must FIRST love myself. There is no other way to do it. The commandment is not "love your neighbor more than yourself"... or "love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved"... it is AS YOURSELF. This very powerfully means that if you do not love yourself - you will not be able to love your neighbor- and you will break the greatest commandment. Boom- that's important!!! But there's more...
The other logical part of 2. is that I obviously need to look for instructions on how to love myself..... I can't love myself FIRST in the way that God wants me to love my neighbor if I don't know how he wants me to love myself.
Does that mean I should stare at my reflection in the mirror all day and offer myself praise? Do I ask people to worship me, or brag about my intellect or accomplishments?
I think we move back to 1. Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. That's a lot of ALL's.... The commandment is that we are to turn ourselves entirely (holding nothing back) to the God who created us and give over everything about our life- our WHOLE heart, soul and mind. The rest of the Bible and all the prophesy, warnings, stories of other people's lives... it all suggests that if we give ourselves over entirely to the God who created us that we will feel love, we will BE light, we will be a reflection of "Good"... we will have true peace, justice, protection, comfort- we will have everything we need provided to us.
If we give ourselves entirely over, there is nothing but light, truth and life in us... no selfish motives, no worries over worldly judgements of political correctness, no need to be "good" in the world's eyes, no games... just light, truth and life.
So... isn't 1. actually an instruction on how to love OURSELF... and 2. then is a commandment to share that exact love we feel for ourselves as we reflect the Creator out to our family, friends and community?
And... as Jesus said to the Pharisees who were questioning him... don't all the other laws in the Bible hang on these two inseparable ideas?
The world wants to make our lives a complicated mire of distraction... but isn't this so very simple?