Your Best Gift To Yourself

When I think back on my years in school, I’m amazed at what my teachers left out. Or maybe they couldn’t teach me what they hadn’t learned themselves. . .

I received a lot of instruction about other people and about God, but no one ever taught me how to relate to myself. It was almost as if this was a taboo subject. No one talked about it or acknowledged its importance. Only in recent years, in working with some skilled spiritual directors, have I discovered a path to healing and freedom that I hadn’t known existed.

How we treat ourselves affects pretty much everything — how we relate to others, how we approach our work, how we feel about our lives in general.

Think about the mean or hateful people you’ve known or heard about. It’s as predictable as night following day that they were first mean and hateful toward themselves. Then think about your happiest, most joy-filled moments. It’s just as predictable that those times flowed from your being truly loving and affirming toward yourself and being freed to receive the best gifts of life.

We never learn to relate to ourselves perfectly, but we can certainly get better at recognizing how we’re hurting ourselves and what we need to do to grow healthier. There’s a long training process involved. If we’re wise, we’ll commit ourselves to it and keep moving forward.

Our Christian faith gives us the best place to begin. The closer we come to treating ourselves as God treats us in Christ, the better grounded and prepared for effective living we’ll be.

In Luke 15, Jesus presents himself as the good shepherd. When one of his sheep goes astray, he leaves all the others in order to rescue the one who is lost.

We are all that lost sheep, but as we learn to love ourselves as the good shepherd does, we find the path back home. May that path lead us all to Community Church of Providence this Sunday.

With love and blessings,

Evan Howard,