Self-love – mirror, mirror on the wall

Posted by David

Part 2 – Love, relationships and marriage

Snow White -  Brothers Grimm fairy tale, image from Disney version

Snow White - Brothers Grimm fairy tale, image from Disney

The inward dwelling upon oneself is probably one of the most destructive things we do as humans—and we all do it. Just the fact that I feel I can write a few pages on Love, Relationships and Marriage is a bit narcissistic in itself! But I justify this on the grounds that I feel like I can help some folks who have dug a deep hole for themselves.

Me, Me, Me World

Most relationships that people have with others are actually based in self-love. We want to be loved rather than to love. A quid pro quo contract is developed between parties for these sort of relationships to survive. But this isn’t agape love, it’s a power-struggle between two parties deeply involved in the pride and fancy of self-love.

We live in a me, me, me world, so we can’t help but fall into the clutches of the self. We certainly perpetuate it with our kids. It’s all about them and less about others. We teach them that they are the most important thing on the planet at a frightening young age. This is not to dismiss that everyone is important. In fact, we should each feel infinitely special, because in God’s eyes, we are. Each of us are his special creation and we should humbly feel that joy.

But the egocentric self-love of which I’m describing is a powerlust whirlpool that gets stronger and stronger as our inner gaze becomes mesmerized by the self. We feel the creative power of the self and seek to exploit it. God gave us each a will and that will is extremely powerful. But we are sucked in by its influence when we look at it. We must shine outward, not inward. I expect that most leaders over the eons have subjected themselves to this whirlpool and have been swept within by the strong current.

Stuck on the barbed wire

As boys and girls cross the threshold into adulthood, new lessons must be taught. Lessons which have disappeared among many circles in this day and age. Adolescent youth become captured by the sucking current of self-love. Males and females alike become addicted to the emotional and physical pleasures of self-love in a variety of ways. They have the knowledge of adults, but still act like children. Adolescent boys must be taught that their addictions to that pleasure must be culled and adolescent girls must be taught that the fantasy worlds in which they dabble are unreal and inappropriate. The childish fancy that develops into self-love must be abandoned. As sad as it is to see children die from their childhood joys and move into adulthood, dads must learn to grab the hands of their sons and pull them into adulthood, and moms must do the same for girls. It’s imperative that boys and girls not get stuck on the barbed wire fence.

I’ve thought a lot about how this should be done because the last thing we want to inject is guilt into our youth. Guilt drives people deeper inward which increases the inward focus and perpetuates the self-love. The only answer is agape love. When we provide agape love to others, it pops their head out of current, for the light is infinitely stronger than darkness. We must demonstrate and shine forth agape love. We must lend an unconditional hand downward and be patient for the response. It may be a lifelong pursuit for some.

I recall a one-eyed young man’s simple acts of kindness that provided me strength as I wandered far from the ways of God. He helped me on one occasion with my stuck vehicle and then another when I had no cash on me and need to put some gas in my tank. Such signs of love were a beacon of God’s love to me. God sent him to me twice and I’ve never seen him since. Who was that masked man? It was agape love and I was astonished.

Demonstrating agape

There are some practical ways to demonstrate agape by simply helping others who are in need. We must develop a structure for our youth and our community that allow people to serve others. This task is most important for our society today, as we are more isolated from those opportunities than ever before. Beyond reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, here are a few practical strategies:

  • Abandon our fear of strangers (How can we help others if we’re scared of them?)
  • Develop a cashless service network for your community (service must be from the heart, not the wallet)
  • Starve your additions (How can we be focused outside ourselves if we’re constantly needing to fulfill the desires of our addictions? And I mean the destructive ones: Fox News, CNN News, most TV, of course, drugs, sexual addictions, you know what yours are.)
  • Adolescent boys and girls must be given long-term opportunities to serve, build, make, care, help, work, etc. (The last place most adolescent youth need to be is cooped up in school with other boys and girls with the same narcissistic outlook on life. But if they must be there, then we must make opportunities for them to extend an arm of God’s love to others.)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12: 1-2

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