The Hardest Commandment
Love, as an abstract idea, is often hard to encapsulate. To love someone else, one must “value” his or her own worth before he or she can “value” the worth of someone else. This sounds like a cliché, until we take it one step further and say, for example, “in order to say I love you, one must first be able to say ‘I'” (Rand). Understanding that love is both an individual, and a mutual experience, is part of the deeper understanding of what happens when we experience love.
We will conflate two ideas here — that we must love ourselves, so that we know “how to” love others, but also that we must find ourselves worthy, so that we are able to see the “value” of, or potentiality, in ourselves, as well as others.
It is hard for many of us to buy into the idea that self-love is a positive thing (especially those of us from religious backgrounds), when the worldly, superficial version of self-love looks like massages, pedicures, and the latest fitness crazes.
In a much deeper and spiritual way, self-love is more than aiming to be fit and attractive. It is about vitality, and how we can engage our core energy to experience life in all its fullness.
By focusing on nutrition and exercise as essentials, we can choose to enter each day with “vitality” and “enthusiasm” — the soul-nourishing aspects of wellness.
To be vital and enthusiastic means to see the world in an “awakened” way. The Greek phrase “en theos” means “God within,” and we can choose whether or not to see life in this way.
C.S. Lewis said: “I believe in God like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but because of it, all things are seen.”
When we aim for true understanding and insight, we gain the ability to be enthusiastic (and to carry God) into every aspect of our lives.