Last week I shared my newfound love of St. Augustine’s charge to order our loves. To sum it up briefly, St. Augustine recommends that you make sure you put your love of God first, then love your neighbors as yourself. When we make sure our loves are in order, and something that should be #10 isn’t sitting in the #1 spot, we are happier.
Does your brain ever start thinking about one thing, and then it goes off on a tangent, and then another one, and another one, until you’re on an entirely different topic and you’re down a completely different rabbit hole and can’t figure out how you got there? Yeah? Me, too.
Well, fortunately, this rabbit hole didn’t go too far this time. As I was writing out the second great commandment, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, I paused. Um. Love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This doesn’t just tell us what we should do. It tells us HOW we should do it. We should love them AS we love ourselves.
So that begs the question: What if we don’t love ourselves? What if we don’t treat ourselves with kindness? How will we know how to treat others? You follow me?
I have come to the conclusion that part of the two great commandments is loving ourselves. As we prioritize our lives to order our loves, loving ourselves must be high on that list.
I know that for some people, showing yourself love can be a tricky thing. There is a tendency to think that showing yourself love can be selfish. I submit to you, though, that it is vital to treat yourself in the same way that a good, God-fearing person would treat their neighbor.
If your neighbor were going through a hard time, you might offer to watch their children so that they can have some rest. Find a way to give yourself that rest.
If your neighbor was feeling down on themselves, you would say kind of things to lift up their spirits. You would never let them talk down about themselves. You can also say kind things to yourself to lift your own spirits. Why would you let yourself talk down about you?
If your neighbor just needed to get out of the house, you might take them out for froyo and girl talk. Well, take yourself out for froyo.
These small acts of love, also called self-care, allow us to be in a position to care for our neighbors. When we order our loves, we cannot let our own self-care be at the bottom of the list. Remember that old saying, you can’t pour from it from an empty cup? This applies here. You must take care of yourself to have the energy to love God and your neighbors.