I think it’s safe to say that no one would argue with me if I were to say that the Scriptures teach kindness to others over and over again. Jesus commanded us to love one another, Paul writes about bearing with one another in love, the Psalms tell us how good it is when brothers dwell together in unity. Even the books of law list commandments regarding the care of the widow, the orphan and the outcast.
Caring for others is a big part of what it is to live in relationship with God, to follow Jesus, to be a person of faith.
But what about oneself? A little over a year ago, Andrew Peterson recorded a song he wrote for his 13 year old daughter (there is a link to a video of him performing it live, at the end of the quote below – click on the blue text). My favourite part says this:
Well, how does it end when the war that you’re in is just you against you against you?
You gotta learn to love, learn to love, learn to love your enemies, too.
–Andrew Peterson, Be kind to yourself
This idea – being kind to yourself – has become a part of my vocabulary. It’s what I say to friends and colleagues when they are beating themselves up over something. Or when they are feeling overwhelmed by the troubles of life.
I’d argue that being kind to yourself is also part of a life of faith. God made you.
The Psalmist writes:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:13-16 NIV
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God took time and care to create you just the way you are. Jesus stepped out of heaven; he was born helpless and naked, he grew, taught and healed; he was betrayed, beaten and died in the most horrible way to save you.
You are precious in his sight.
So this Lent, be kind to yourself. Know that in doing so, you are honoring the God who made you and who saved you. And I will try to do the same.