I can forgive only when I learn to forgive myself; I can accept only when I learn to accept myself; and I can love only when I learn to love myself. How can I give to someone something I do not have in the first place?
Walk past a beggar, have heart to help which should take the form of a monetary material – a coin, a note. Imagine you are completely broke, how would you possibly help the poor beggar? How can you share something you do not have to start with? Say, you have ten bucks; possible you can share five bucks provided you have the heart. But if you do not carry any amount of money, how do you intend to help the poor beggar? How can you help a financially desperate friend when you yourself do not have any?
Self is the most important to start with. If you do not know how to love yourself in the first place, how do you give love to someone even if you claimed it out loud so many times? You do not even understand love to start with. The moment self-acceptance comes in then you know how to accept others the way they are. The moment you learn to love yourself, you know how to love others.
If you do not know how to forgive yourself, how do you even know how to forgive others? Where is the authenticity in giving something and claiming it when in the first place you have no idea what you are claiming is? Love for self yields self-acceptance; followed with the heart to forgive self. With love, acceptance and forgiveness in hand, you can start to love, accept and forgive others.
God is love. Understanding love by first knowing how to love our self, we can only start to understand God’s love for us. And only then we can start to accept God’s love for us. For instance, if you never know the worth and value of money, what use is it to you even if some generous person gifts you a handsome amount? Resources are useless to those who do not understand and thus does not know how to utilize them. If I have a pen and papers, but myself illiterate, what use is the pen and papers for? Loving self leads to understanding love, understanding love makes us capable of accepting and receiving love. It goes right back to the self.
You can ask God many times to forgive for your wrongdoings or sins. But what good would it do when you can’t even forgive yourself for whatever wrong you did? The guilty feeling goes on, and even if God is so capable of forgiving, you keep on drawing away from Him. If you can’t accept yourself that you are a sinner, and that what you do is only natural nevertheless sinful and you can’t even start to forgive yourself; how could you possibly understand God’s forgiveness for you? Again, it’s the self.
We struggle through many things in life; we ask ourselves, “What did I do? Why can’t I do anything right? Why is everything so impossible?” And we start to go on, finding faults in other things, trying to find the cause, blaming on things other than ourselves, searching but only to end up in vain. Most of the time we fail to put ourselves in the equation. We put our work, our friends, our partners, co-workers, colleagues, family members, anyone close to us in the equation. We find it hard to accept our own self when most of the time, self-acceptance and self-admittance are the only answer. It always goes back to the self.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. A very, very familiar passage usually, plainly, read as about giving love to others. But have you noticed? It starts with the self. It said ‘Love you neighbor’, but at a condition or rather direction, saying ‘as you love yourself’. There’s a song that goes “How can you love someone, not yourself?” Good question, eh? How can even start to love your neighbor when you do not know how to love yourself?
Perhaps people finding to difficult to love their neighbor doesn’t know that their main problem dwells with loving themselves. Take a girl who manages to grumble and complain just about anything; you’ll find that the girl is completely frustrated about herself. She is just vending out her anger and frustrations by cursing at others. Like this girl, most of our problems start with ourselves; we are not at peace with ourselves and that simply leads to war with our neighbors.
The average teenage girl looks at herself in the mirror everyday and all she can notice are all the wrong features. Nose too big or too long or too short, pimples, problem with her sensitive skin, too pale, too dark; she has got to find problem with just about anything she can make out when she sits on front of the mirror. Not to mention she got to deal with all her shortcomings in the society! Then she starts to wonder all the possible ifs. In short, she does not accept herself, she is not at peace with herself; and then she looks around and starts to complain and grumbles just about anything; ignoring the best and judging the rest, another frustrated soul. If only she knows that she needs just a little bit of optimism and self-acceptance.