One of the first things that must be addressed in our lives is our love of self. Most of us, when we look deep inside ourselves, realize we spend much time criticizing and castigating ourselves for our shortcomings instead of seeing ourselves as God sees us--His unique child, created to perfection.
Didn't He say, ‘"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39?
How can we love our neighbors if we don't love ourselves?
In putting together resources for our healing group, I have been compiling a list of possible psychosomatic roots to diseases. I discovered a book by Louise Hay, entitled You Can Heal Your Life, in which she lists many diseases and their possible roots. Even though this book is not a Christian book, I believe much of what she discusses are laws God created to help us live healthy lives. As I have explained to others--you don't have to be a Christian to use God's laws--example: gravity. Because this is true I glean understanding from lots of different avenues knowing that sometimes the person does not know the Creator of the laws they are using.
In Louise Hay's book, I came across this wonderful exercise in learning to love yourself.
Begin to visualize yourself as a little child of 4 or 5 years old… Look deeply into this little child’s eyes. See the longing that is there and realize there is only one thing this little child wants from you and that is love. So reach out your arms and embrace this child. Hold it with love and tenderness. Tell it how much you love it, how much you care. Admire everything about this child and say that it’s OK to make mistakes while learning. Promise that you will always be there no matter what. Now let this little child get very small until it is just the size to fit into your heart. Put it there so whenever you look down, you can see this little face looking up at you and you can give it lots of love.
Because much of our problems in life come from not being loved in the way we wanted or needed by our parents, she also adds this to the visualization:
Now visualize your mother as a little girl of four or five, frightened and looking for love and not knowing where to find it. Reach out your arms and hold this little girl and let her know how much you love her, how much you care. Let her know she can rely on you to always be there, no matter what. When she quiets down and begins to feel safe, let her get very small, just the size to fit into your heart. Put her there with your own little child. Let them give each other lots of love.
Now imagine your father as a little boy of three or four—frightened, crying, and looking for love. See the tears rolling down his little face when he doesn’t know where to turn. You have become good at comforting frightened little children, so reach out your arms and hold his trembling little body. Comfort him. Croon to him. Let him feel how much you love him. Let him feel that you will always be there for him.
When his tears are dry, and you feel the love and peace in his little body, let him get very small, just the size to fit into your heart. Put him there so those three little children can give each our lots of love and you can love them all.
James 1:7 says, "I have you in my heart. " I believe this exercise is an excellent way of placing people in our hearts so that we can love them continuously. Therefore I would recommend we do this for as many people as we want to hold in our hearts.
Holy Spirit once revealed to me that when we go into God's Presence to pray He looks at our hearts. When He does He sees all those we carry in our hearts because we love them. As He sees them He also looks in their hearts (and sees those they are carrying). What a wonderful way to pray for lots of people--even when you don't know their needs! Carry them in your heart and go before the Father so He can meet the needs of the hearts He sees in yours.