Love You, Too

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27 (NLT) In my work as a pastor and a life coach, I have discovered that most Christian women are pretty good at loving God and loving others, but they fail miserably at loving themselves. I believe it is because they have translated this scripture to say, “Love your neighbor instead of yourself,” and as a result, they spend their lives doing everything everyone else needs and wants while completely neglecting themselves. They think they are doing a good thing until they end up resentful, bitter, depleted, and often sick. When they are finally ready to change, they often don’t know how.

Maybe you can relate. Are you that woman? Are you tired of being stressed, unappreciated (or under-appreciated), and left doing all of the work? Are you tired of giving so much until there is nothing left for you? Are you ready to make some changes that will make life better for you and those you love? If so, I would like to challenge you to consider the following:

Your value isn’t in what you do, but who you are. – We all desire to be valued and validated. However, we have to be careful not to establish our identities or self-worth on our performances. Yes, you are a wife, mom, daughter, employee, business owner, and volunteer. You wear lots of hats, but those hats don’t determine your value. Not being everything to everyone doesn’t decrease your value. You are valuable because God created you. You don’t have to work for love—you are enough because you are His!

You teach people how to treat you. – If you always say, “Yes” and do all of the work, then you are teaching people that is how they should interact with you. They wait until the last minute and leave you with everything because you have proven that you will do it—even if you do it complaining and dog-tired. If you want people to appreciate you, value your time, and help you, then teach them to do so.

“No” isn’t a curse word—it’s a complete sentence. – You can’t say, “Yes” to everything and everyone. Learn to say, “No.” Make a list of your top priorities, put yourself on the list, and then say, “No” to the things that don’t support your priorities. If you don’t really have time to be on that committee, decline the offer. Yes, I know it’s a good cause, but there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. In order to honor your commitment to love yourself better, you must learn to say, “No” to the things that don’t fit in your priorities.

Treat yourself with integrity. – Most women take great pride in keeping their word to others while violating their word to themselves. Once you have committed to exercise, don’t break your word to yourself by running errands for someone else. It’s not okay to keep your word to everyone but yourself.

Schedule time for you. – We all need downtime, and you are no exception. Take some time to rest and recover. Spend a night in a hotel alone, or send the kids to a friend’s house. If you can’t take a whole day, then take an hour at the library, coffee shop, or the park—you don’t need a plan; you just need some downtime. Taking it will make you better for all of those you love so dearly.

Remember, loving others doesn’t mean neglecting self. In fact, the better job you do of loving yourself, the more effectively you will love others. Go ahead and love you, too—you’re worth it!