“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
I believe in the value of self-compassion, but find it so easy to slip into self-criticism, self-flagellation, or self-indulgence.
Just the other day I called someone by their wrong name. I was so embarrassed and chastised myself all day. Another time I thought what a goofball I was to leave out pertinent information to my doctor, or later how dumb I was to have forgotten that doctor’s appointment.
Dr. Kristen Neff, a professor at the University of Texas and expert on self-compassion, found that those who are kind and thoughtful to themselves are healthier and more productive. It’s a misnomer among some Christians that self-compassion leads to sinful narcissism. That’s far from the truth.
Neff says self-kindness is “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain and repressing it which has long-term consequences.”
There is nothing warm and understanding when I chastise myself, call myself a goofball and dumb.
Self-compassion does not mean we excuse ourselves from wrong-doing and accountability. However, it deems that we compassionately forgive ourselves and immerse ourselves in God’s redeeming love. If God loves us unconditionally, should we expect nothing less of ourselves? So to live lives worthy of God as our scripture says, we must give ourselves the same esteem that He does.
I had a chance to practice self-compassion the other day. I was very sick for a week with the energy-sucking, fun-robbing fatigue from Sjogren’s disease.
On the fifth day I dragged myself to the pharmacy for prednisone. Then I felt that I needed something to perk me up. I knew the grocery store had a Starbucks right at the front door. I slowly trudged into the store and got a skinny café mocha. Then I got some cheerful forced daffodils and irises. I was reminded of the promise of spring and felt God’s nod that loving myself was a good thing.
Prayer: Protect us, Dear Lord, from those times we are unkind, unthoughtful and right down abusive to ourselves. Let us remember that as your children, we are to love ourselves as you do. Amen.
About the author:
Jackie Smith lives in Knoxville, TN near the beautiful Smoky Mountains. She has Sjogrens’s disease and migraine headaches; Jackie had a bilateral mastectomy over 25 years ago. A few years ago she had her colon removed, necessitating a permanent ileostomy. She has her master’s degree in Child and Family Studies. Between her and her husband of 35 years they enjoy 5 children and 12 grandchildren. Jackie loves sharing through her writing the rich experiences God has lavished upon her.
How have you shown love toward yourself today?
This is Michael W. Smith singing “Grace.” Don’t forget to give yourself the same grace God gives you. Doesn’t He know best? -Lisa