Couple and marriage relationships are always a high priority in people’s lives. We all want to be loved. We all want to love our significant other and we like to read about how we can improve that relationship. We can read about it all over the internet.
I believe that reading about improvement in these close relationships helps us to keep on track. Many articles written on this topic include success stories which encourage us to want to be better.
For some time now, I have been reading and reading of research in the improvement of marriage relationships, couple relationships, and how to improve myself in a relationship. This has been rolling around in my head. I read and write and read some more and then write some more which now has become a three-part article series on couple relationships.
Whether we are single over 50 or just starting to venture out in love land at 21, it’s always encouraging to read about how our couple relationships can improve. A few weeks ago at church, the Young Women’s (girls from 12 to 18) Sunday class had a lesson on dating.
This is their favorite topic of choice and the question was asked: “What characteristics can we develop to prepare ourselves to be good companions?” One young woman, seemingly wiser beyond her years gave an answer which piqued my interest. She said: “We must love ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, then how can we love others?” Wow, how profound. I had heard this before in discussions and reading but this time, it sunk in.
Do we love ourselves? We should if we don’t. Is this important for us? We are loved by God. We are loved by family and friends and we should love ourselves. Not confusing our love of self to conceit but a “pure love of Christ” kind of love for ourselves.
Love for God:
For most Christians, this is an easy one. We want to do what is right and serve God. From October, 2009 General Conference talk from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (LDS Church), Dieter Uchtdorf said “Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.”
It’s easy to love someone who loves you unconditionally and God certainly loves us more than we love ourselves. We become true disciples of God when we love him and serve him. When we do, we are happier, more confident and we have hope for a better future.
Love for others:
We are all different. We think differently and act differently but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be different. As we come to accept each other we can form a bond. Dallin H. Oaks said it so well from an October 2014 General Conference talk: “In so many relationships and circumstances in life, we must live with differences.
Where vital, our side of these differences should not be denied or abandoned, but as followers of Christ we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based. The Father’s plan of salvation, which we know by prophetic revelation, places us in a mortal circumstance where we are to keep His commandments. That includes loving our neighbors of different cultures and beliefs as He has loved us.”
Love for Self:
The funny thing about loving yourself is that it grows more when you love others. Richard G. Scott knew this well and spoke of this in a LDS Church General Conference talk in October 1983: “Begin now with your best effort. Reach out to another. You will feel the power of the Lord flow through you. Your own self-respect will return, and you can love yourself again. Your life will be enriched and given purpose, and you will be given the power to make a difference in everything around you.” It is truly amazing when you do for others how much this affects the love that you have for yourself.
When I was a teen, my mother used to give my sister and me jewelry as gifts. She loved wearing it herself and gave us rings, bracelets and necklaces to wear as she liked to wear. One of those pieces was a mother of pearl ring in the shape of a heart. I wore it often but didn’t really appreciate it until now. I have an allergy to nickel so finding hypo-allergenic jewelry I like was sometimes challenging.
After my divorce, I hated the feeling of not having a ring on my “wedding ring finger” so I wore my CTR (Choose The Right) ring my daughter gave me. After a time I wanted to wear rings on both ring fingers and went looking for another ring in my jewelry box. My mother’s mother of pearl heart ring stood out from all the rest and I was overjoyed to find it again. The heart in the ring took a special meaning for me.
With the past study of love in my life for God, family and friends, I decided that this ring would be a great reminder for me of my love of God, love for others and remember to love myself. It’s an ongoing process to find the true meaning of all three areas but I am reminded of what is necessary for me every time I look at my hand.
The practice of loving ourselves and others is an ongoing process and waxes and wanes throughout our lives. We are so blessed to be Children of God. We can love God, others and ourselves which brings us hope and happiness. So to answer my question, “Do you love yourself?” Yes, we do.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 20 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to ten. Mrs. Steimle authored five books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely.