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"To Love Yourself" by Rev. Dr. Christine Emmerling 2/6/22 (text)

“To Love Yourself” by Rev. Christine 2/6/22

This being February our talks are focused on the different aspects of love. Today I’m speaking on “To Love Yourself.” Its about how to have the everlasting kind of love that fills your heart and soul. Then being that love - to truly love unconditionally.

Everyone is familiar with the young romantic kind of love. The love that gives that butterfly excitement feeling. This kind of love is based on how the other person makes us feel, and doesn’t usually last very long. The breakup can even result in bad feelings for the other person and our self. This kind of relationship is like being on a yo-yo of feelings.

To learn more about love we go to the Bible, and it reads, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” First found in the Old Testament in the book of Duet 6:5, and repeated in the New Testament in Matthew 22:37 stating “that this was the greatest commandment in the law” and he added to it with “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He goes on to say (Matt. 22:40) “These two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

We are always loving our neighbor as we love our self, the problem is that we don’t know how to love our self, and thus our love is not love at all, but fear based in separation and judgement. This is from making a God in man’s image. Our limited understanding of God has given us a God to fear. A God that sits in judgement that gives and withholds its good depending upon how good we’ve been. This is not love. Until we know better, this is what we are capable of giving to our neighbor, family, friends, and our self.

Love begins with God, loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and might.

To love God, and for us to Love each other, first we must know God and our relationship to God. God is the Great Creator of all creation, and is a living Presence that is everywhere and is eternal.

We are told in Genesis that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and Jesus said, that the Kingdom of God is within us. Our first relationship is with our Self, Self with a capital “S”. By knowing our True Self we can love our self as God loves us.

God is the source of love. God’s love is more than a feeling it is a Principle, an attribute of God, it is the only true power. God as love means, this love is our true nature, and is ever available and flows through us. We are then a channel for God’s love.

Ah, but God can only get to us what God can get through us. God’s love is always available, flowing freely, but we are the ones that aren’t always open to receive. Imagine God’s love is like a water faucet that can be turned off and on or somewhere in between, and we have the control over its flow to us and through us.

When we’re feeling anger, guilt, shame, and unlovable we have completely turned our faucet handle to off. God’s love is blocked and can’t get through.

When we begin to turn on some forgiveness the handle begins to turn a little allowing a continuous drip. This small amount of love allows us to begin to be more caring and kind, and this results in the drip becoming a steady stream of love. Then we add some gratitude and joy to our lives, and the handle is turned all the way open with a full stream of love. Now as an open channel, God’s love is pouring through us, and working through our life - blessing.

Now for me, my first real love relationship was with my children. This was the first time that I experienced unconditional love for anyone. It doesn’t matter what they do, my love doesn’t change.

Then I discovered a kind of God that I had never known before. An all loving all powerful presence that fills from the inside out. I developed a relationship with God by daily study, meditation, prayer, and putting to practice what I had learned.

I learned of God’s unconditional love for all its creation, and that included me. I wasn’t judged, or thought less than because of what I did or didn’t do, or my lack of understanding or knowledge. It doesn’t matter what I do, for I am already alive in God’s love. Then to realize this is true of everyone everywhere. Everyone is God’s love in expression.

My spiritual journey had just begun – I had a new relationship in God. But every time I would forget and disconnect from God as my source of love, I would find disappointment. I would remind myself that I was looking amiss – and again connect with God. God always finds an outlet for love. Although, it may not be from where I expect or feel I deserve to receive. But nothing can stop what is rightfully mine. Love will come, even if its from a complete stranger.

I found a love that is so much greater than the kind that we find when we are looking for love from another person. I found a true companion that will always be with me. My companion is God. But like with all friendships we must nurture it. Building a relationship with God is much like courting. We first must pay attention, we diligently listen, then share our gifts, and we praise often.

I translate this to:

1. We begin our preparation by being kind to our self in how we care for our mind, body and soul. To cultivate self kindness we must fist be honest with our self by acknowledging those areas that need refining and healing. Self kindness is to forgive our self and others for past mistakes, to learn from them, and be grateful for the opportunity to heal.

Self love is caring about the quality of thoughts we hold in our mind for our self and others. It is about taking care of this body; our holy temple, and praising it often.

2. Then to pay attention by seeing God everywhere. Beginning with our self we see God in our body, mind, heartbeat, each and every breath we breathe – God within our holy temple. Then we extend our attention to seeing God in the flowers, trees, as the air, the life and substance of everything all around us. We continue to see God in our family, co-workers, even in those we don’t like or even fear.

3. Listening by learning to quiet our inner mind chatter – making space for the inner voice to come forth. We find in relationships it is rude to speak when being spoken to. Actually we can’t even hear what the other person is saying while our mind and/or mouth is making noise. Listening to someone is how we learn about them, and so this is the necessary step to learning about God. We receive inner guidance, knowledge and wisdom of the universe and of Truth. This is the beginning of communion; an inner union with our greater Self.

4. We share our gifts by doing things together; the giving of our time to be in the presence of God. We take time to be with our self, quiet time, long walks, days at the beach or mountains.

Even when we are at work, or doing routine tasks we know God is with us. We enjoy in the little things. A true appreciation for a life in God. It is “The Father and I are One.” And, “the Father within does the works.” We then share our gifts of the spirit with the world; and we find “All things are possible in God.”

5. Praise often by being thankful, having a heart of gratitude, and being joyous. Seeing the good everywhere. We keep our eye on the prize. Being thankful for the blessings already received as well as for those yet to come. We can never praise too much. “How Great Thou Art!”

6. Upon awakening, greet the day with a “Good morning God! Thank you for this day.” Then follow by asking God: “What would you have me do today?” Then listen for an impulse, idea or directive. God will direct you to settle a dispute, call a friend in need, articulate your heart’s desire – some action to align with your divine nature of love.

Look for opportunities for God to show up. As we practice seeing God in every person we encounter, we may also begin to notice that flowers in bloom have turned more vibrant, that the leaves in the trees are a richer shade of green, the mountains are more majestic, that the stars appear closer and have a brighter sparkle. Opening to God’s presence is like emerging from a dark closet into daylight. Our whole world is more expansive, beautiful and bright.

7. Communicate with God in a new way. Choose a time free of interruptions, when you can relax and savor the silence. An untrained mind contains sediment that prevents from seeing clearly. As we take a few minutes each day to sit in silence, we can let the unwanted static settle. We can clarify our thoughts. We find God in the silence.

The absence of silence prevents authentic listening. Silence is part of the way we carve a deeper place in ourselves where the roots of awareness can grow, so that when we’re nudged we say, “Yes! That’s a great idea.” We then can choose to give room for it in the soil of our life. We can let that idea grow so its roots have some depth. Then when the winds come we remain strong, and a precious new idea has a chance to grow.

As Confucius said, “Those who would cultivate an entire empire must first cultivate themselves by finding that still space that opens the door to all knowledge.”

Ask for insight. Instead of praying that God make someone else or an unpleasant circumstance change, ask that we be the one who is changed. Ask to see a person or situation from a higher perspective. Then be willing to try on a new way of seeing. Throughout the day be ready to receive signs, signals, and nudges from God. And, then be open and receptive to follow; take that step to the unknown, and be pleasantly surprised.

Apostle Paul said, “Pray unceasingly” which means to stay connected by practicing the presence of God in reminding ourselves of the One Presence and Power always within us and for us. Experiencing God in a personal relationship is moment to moment; in our thoughts, in the silence between thoughts, and in all we do. As our relationship deepens, we find a growing trust in God. We find that whenever we call on the presence of God, God is always here.

As we learn to connect consciously with God, we begin to experience a relationship that includes comfort and a deep sense of well-being, a feeling of companionship, guidance, protection and provision. We look to God as our partner in the most precious and profound relationship in our life.

We find that we love our selves in deep appreciation for this life; our mind, body and soul. This love radiates out into our world, and we are guided to people we can share and experience this love with in wondrous ways co-creating heaven on earth. Truly we are being a channel for God’s love.

In closing let us affirm “I open my mind and heart allowing God’s love to freely flow through me. I am an instrument of God’s love.” And, so it is.

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