“You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." [Leviticus 19:18]
The ordered sequence stated in this command is important. If I am to love my neighbor as myself, I have to already know what it means to love myself. And unless I have reflected on what loving myself means, within the instruction to be “holy as God is holy,” then this arrangement will not work.
Loving myself in my desire to be holy means accepting not only my gifts, but also my character defects. It implies that I rely on God for everything, including when, if ever, those character defects will be healed and disappear. Loving myself demands that I be patient with the diminishments in my body, that I love the part of my brain that is aging, and that I consider the events of my life as part of God’s plan for my salvation. This is no small calling.
Someone shared with me this beautiful prayer that captures the uncertainty I often feel about the details of my life—yet finds goodness in whatever the day may bring.
“This is another day, O Lord.
I know not what it will bring forth,
but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.
If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
Make these words more than words,
and give me the spirit of Jesus. Amen.”