And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39 NKJ
I have always loved this commandment mostly because it assumes we love ourselves. At the very least it seems to give us permission to feel good about ourselves and to treat ourselves well because then that is the standard for the treatment of others. I have rarely seen, in this day and age, the kind of love God would have us have for ourselves. I call it “God Esteem.” God’s vision of us and hope for us is always the most wonderful self-image conceivable. He made us and wants us to be the best we can be and love ourselves at any age.
It almost seems today as if “low self-esteem” is chic. If you don’t have it you’d better go looking for it. We are so controlled by external evaluation that there are very few ways to have any kind of esteem according to society norms. You can’t be too fat, too poor or too old or in modern, young parlance, “You can’t be too thin, too rich or too young.” Someone was telling me that models today, for the most part, are all washed up in their twenties. I think most of us buy into this lie. I feel it must grieve the Father that we can’t love ourselves at any age.
But once I did encounter what I believe was “God Esteem,” true “God Esteem.” Mama B, my mother-in-law, has always loved the Lord and believed that he forms us, physically as well, at every stage of our lives, and that he does a perfect job. It was late one night on vacation, and I had to get up to visit the bathroom, which my husband and I were sharing with Mama B, who was in the next bedroom.
The bathroom door was closed. I peeked into Mama B’s bedroom, and she was not there. I waited outside the bathroom door for a few minutes. I didn’t want to call out for fear of waking my husband. I tried to turn the knob softly. The door wasn’t locked. I pushed it open, and there was Mama B standing in front of the mirror in the dark. The moonlight was streaming through the window, and Mama B was standing directly in its light. The silver and white of her bobbed hair, shone like white and grey silk. She had on a very red lipstick which made her teeth aspirin white. She was smiling so broadly and peacefully that she radiated happiness. “You know what?” she asked me.
“No, what, Mama B?”
“I’m a beautiful old lady.”
We were silent for a few seconds, and then I looked at the striking mirror image and said, “You know what? You are.”
Since her death, when I remember this incident, I go to the mirror and try to say, “You are a beautiful middle-aged woman.” Oh yuk! I don’t mean a word of it, and you can tell by the surly frown in the mirror. I know Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t going to worry. But I also know Mama B was right. I know she had “God Esteem.”
Thank you, Lord, for giving us examples of the wisdom of some your saints which can give us great comfort and guidance in our grief. Our loved ones, who have died, not only live on in You, but in us. Thank you that I will think of Mama B and You every time I take a step toward God esteem.
Diana Burg is an author with several books. She writes novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and poetry. Her passion is writing.
Mourning Glory, A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com