My pastor asked us a question last Sunday that really stuck with me.
"What is he opposite of love?"
Promptly, we all replied "hate". If you are like me, that was your reply as well. But what he said hit me pretty hard.
"The opposite of love is selfishness."
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. 1 Corinthians 13:4
I want to challenge you for a moment to think of this differently than we normally do. We automatically relate this verse to loving others, but let's take a moment to think about self-love and self-care.
'And a second [commandment] is like [the first]: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ' Matthew 22:39
How can we love our neighbors if we don't first love ourselves? It is simple - not very well.
We usually think of self-care and selfish actions. We think that if we put ourselves first then we are selfish, so we neglect the self-care in an attempt to avoid that selfishness. The problem is not the actions of self-care, but the intentions. When we take care of ourselves, show ourselves love, allow ourselves to breathe, relax, enjoy things for the sake of our own amusement, but with the intention and purpose of taking care of and loving ourselves so that we can in turn love others better, treat others more kindly, tackle work, family, life less stressed and more productively - that is the right way to love yourself. Love yourself so that you can then love others better. If we don't love ourselves well, how can we possibly listen to commandment two and "love others are yourself"?
Selfishness is the opposite of love. Selfishness is not just putting yourself above everything else, your wants above others', but it is also the act of neglecting yourself for the sake of others. Neglecting your own needs tells God you don't trust His commands and teachings, and that you think you know better than He. It also says you don't trust God with your stresses, anxieties, and most importantly with your life. But let me tell you; when you let God lead you in every way and appreciate His teachings, listen and follow His instructions for your life, that is love.
'And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ' Matthew 22:37
Love God by being obedient, and by respecting and following His commands and instruction, which includes all kinds of ways to have self-care. So don't be afraid to take a step back, take a little "me" time, collect yourself, refresh, breathe, and appreciate yourself in a healthy, God-centered way. Self-love is important. Self-care is not selfish with the right motives.