At one point in my life I learned the JOY acronym. As acronyms go this is a pretty good one:
Jesus – First
Others – Second
Yourself – Last
This essentially puts us in the “right working order”. When we put God first our world is well-ordered and the other two flow naturally from this order. God’s love brings this love for neighbor and self to fruition. God’s love calls us to look beyond, to look up and see beyond our “self” to see the “other” and extend to them the love and caring they deserve as well-loved children of God.
Love works both ways – we love God AND we accept the love of God in our lives. This love allows us to really be loving of others, accepting of them for who they are, caring for their needs AND accepting this same type of love in return. This is not easy. Nor should it be. It’s good, hard work becoming more and more Christ-like. It’s much easier to criticize, to see the negative in people’s motives, to ignore people or to just summarily let them go. It’s easy to complain about people oh good grief I could go on and on with how easy it is to move people on based on how we “feel” about them.
Love requires we do more.
I am going to pause here to clarify there is a difference between people treating us poorly and outright abuse. Abuse requires radical action on our part to get the abuser out of our lives. Period. No questions asked.
To some degree we all get the Jesus First, Others Second part pretty well. We forget with great regularly that part about Yourself. Years ago when we were in full-time ministry each of us was required to take a day of prayer. This was set aside for us to pray, to reconnect with God in some meaningful way. There are a myriad of ways that the day could be spent. However comma it was not to be spent running errands, catching up on whatever we’d taped on the VCR, responding to email yada, yada, yada. Nope, not that. This day of prayer is intended to reconnect with God in such a way that our “batteries are recharged” so that we’d be able to be present to the ones we are called to serve, live with, work with and be present to. (yes, I know the grammar is off here.)
We must take care of ourselves. Jesus did.
We must recharge our batteries. Jesus did.
We must accept God’s love and begin the process of loving and forgiving ourselves for not meeting the “standard” whatever the standard. I am often particularly had on myself and recently, for whatever reason I realized that I’d been saying two things that have been very, very hard, not at all loving and downright cruel. The first, “I hate myself”. Yep, that’s been there lately. And “I pretty much suck at this”. Yep that too. I’ve been giving into fear in such a harsh way lately that these thoughts have just carried over. Driving to work I realized I need to stop this. It’s counter productive to Everything. Simply Everything.
Essentially what I’m doing is ignoring God’s love for me, turning him away. Not allowing His Love/Mercy to remind me that I am His child, His Creation. That while I do have faults I am still well Loved and allow that Love change the way I behave towards myself. It’s that Yourself part, taking care of myself.
I want to do well in whatever I’m doing. I think we all do. I want to do well from the word go. When I teach quilting I give my students permission to make mistakes. It’s part of the process. It’s expected. Mistakes will always happen. Learning and growing from them is a major part of the process. Erasers, seam rippers, confession.
There are a few very loving things I need to do for myself over the next few days. I’ll be back next week.