When I was in college, I did a fair amount of songwriting. The songs were generally not intended for any kind of an audience; they were more like another version of journaling, a rather cathartic way for me to process my own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they were based on a portion of Scripture that impressed me, other times they just came about kind of whenever inspiration hit.
Recently, I found myself remembering a particular song I had written and I went to look for it in my well-worn purple two-pocket folder of songs that have been scratched out on papers of various shapes and sizes. To my surprise, it wasn't there. To my even greater surprise, when I started trying to sing it, I discovered I still remembered all of it - the tune, the chords, the words, the whole thing. Somehow it stayed in my memory even though I apparently lost the piece of notebook paper where I had first written it down.
I wrote the song when I was hurting for some people in my life who were going through hard things and wishing I knew what I could do to help. Here are the lyrics:
Father, they come to You with heavy hearts
Oh how this life can bring such pain.
What can I do to help, what is my part?
I know my prayers are not in vain
So I pray, oh.
I will pray.
Lord I pray You would deliver them
Lift their hurting hearts to You
When they cry to You, oh answer them
Give them grace and peace anew
I give them to You.
Did you ever feel like this? Like you know that people you love are experiencing hurt and you just want so badly to be able to help them, but you feel kind of helpless? So you just keep praying, and hoping your prayers are making a difference. You try to listen, you offer encouragement, and you make yourself available as much as you know how. You carry their burden, hoping that by doing so, somehow you can help to make it lighter.
But what happens when you are the person hurting? How do you do at being on the receiving end of this kind of care? Does your heart fill with the same kind of compassion toward yourself that you have for your hurting loved ones?
In one of the Biola University Lent Project devotionals from 2020, the writer opens with these lines about "true humility": I think of myself as a kind person. I care about people. I have empathy for people. I do not get angry easily, nor do I feel like I hold anger against others. Unless...unless that person is me.
Have you ever thought about taking the many commands that are in the Bible about how to treat others and applying them to how you treat yourself? Do not judge (yourself). Be slow to become angry (at yourself). When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment, I find it interesting that part of His answer is to "love your neighbor as you love yourself". Did you ever wonder why He didn't just say "love your neighbor" and leave it at that? Could it be because He knows that loving ourselves might be just as hard (if not harder) for some of us than loving our neighbors?
I remember having a conversation with someone who was dealing with some pretty painful circumstances and she admitted that it's so much harder for her to ask people to pray for her than it is for her to pray for others. We both acknowledged that we think many of us feel this way, and neither of us were really sure why.
I still don't think I have an answer to this question, but I am wondering how the world would change if all of us decided that the way we treat ourselves matters as much as the way we treat others. Maybe the two are actually more connected than we'd like to think. Maybe that's why Jesus tells us to do both - love our neighbor and love ourselves. Maybe it's actually impossible to do one apart from the other.
I suppose sometimes we feel afraid of taking "loving ourselves" too far and becoming something like a self-absorbed narcissist. But somehow I think that if we are actually treating ourselves with genuine love and kindness, it is much more likely for us to become kinder, more loving people than it is to turn us into people who are selfish or prideful.
So the next time you are tempted to belittle or judge yourself, remember how you felt about that hurting loved one - how deeply you longed for them to experience grace and peace - and don't be afraid to ask someone to pray that same thing for you.
Pray with me...
... Father, for all in the ACSD community who are hurting, give them the courage and humility to receive love The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
... Lord, help us to give each other an abundance of grace and use us to express Your love to each other
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
... Holy Spirit, bring about revival in and through the ACSD community, as we follow Your commandments to love You and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves
The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory