Loving ourselves is integral in any relationship. We really have nothing to give to another person if don’t relate to them as a whole individual. This holds true in marriage, as well as other relationships.
When Roy and I got married, back in the dark ages, I figured he could make up for my deficits. He, however, wasn’t looking for a child to raise, he was looking for a wife to walk alongside him.
My core issue was I didn’t care about myself. This was very apparent when I started gaining weight. My health became a major issue as I gained up to 430 pounds, but I couldn’t get a handle on it.
Working on my health would take time and major lifestyle changes. I was too busy taking care of everything and everyone else. I called it love, but if I really loved others, I would have made sure I took care of myself so I could give them all of me.
I put my health last. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I never exercised. I had poor sleeping habits of either sleeping too much or too little.
I really thought I was being godly, but my lack of care for my body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit,1 was deplorable. I was saying to God, I don’t care about where You live.
Of course, I loved my husband and told him so regularly. I was not deceptive in my words. I did love him with as much of me as I loved, which was very little.
When I began to love myself, a whole new world of color, light and depth opened up. It was very much like I had been living in a black and white, one-dimensional world.
This shift has happened in the last five years. I started realizing it was now or never. I had run out of options where my health was concerned.
It was time to take drastic measures. So I did what God had been telling me I should do whenever I would ask how to get rid of “this mountain of flesh.” I stopped eating processed sugar.
I had resisted trying because I was sure I couldn’t do it. The bottom line came done to this, is God my God or is my stomach my god?2
By this point in my life, I had tried everything else. (Read my book, Sweet Grace, for more of the details.) I decided to try it God’s way. If He didn’t show up to help, I might as well lay down and die.
I knew a one-time change, such as a short-term diet, would not work. I had done all of those. It had to be a total lifestyle change. I laid processed sugar on the altar of the living God because I am worth saying no to things that master and control me.3
As I met each “I can’t” with “I can,” my mind was renewed and transformed4 by the power of the Holy Spirit.
With His strength coursing through my body, I made the next lifestyle change to eating gluten-free, cutting out all flour and bread. I upped exercise to six days a week for at least an hour each day. His grace became the wind at my back as weight fell off of me. I felt better physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I noticed the shift happening in my connection with my husband, which had always been good, but now was multiplying exponentially.
I had begun to love and take care of myself, which freed me to love my husband without restraint.
The real me had gotten swallowed up in the extreme amounts of weight I had allowed on my body. It protected and comforted me so I didn’t require nor want much from my husband.
As my love tank filled, so did his. I also became closer to my children, friends and family members.
The ministry and church activities I did before went from duty to joy-filled. My writing made sense and began connecting with others.
Finally, I understood, the big fuss over the great commandment and why it’s in three of the gospels. The whole crux of the matter is what we put last—ourselves.
The passage starts and ends with us. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor, as yourself.’”5
It’s up to us to make each of these decisions. We only make them because we do care about ourselves. If we don’t, we won’t love God or others.
Whether it’s our spouse, our child or the guy down the street, love begins to become duty unless we care for ourselves with love and concern
Love yourself and then, you’ll have an over-abundance to share with others.
1 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Philippians 3:19
3 1 Corinthians 6:12
4 Romans 12:1-2
5 Matthew 22:37-39
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.