How to Fully Love Others
A devotional by Dr. Jessica B. Turner
“A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
–Matthew 22:39 (NLT)
If you go to church, study the Bible, read Christian books or listen to faith-based podcasts, then you have most likely heard the commands Jesus Christ gave in the Scripture above.
If you are anything like me, you have likely heard it so many times that you don’t give it much thought anymore. We know we are called to love our neighbors. That is one of the first things you learn as a Christian. We may even understand that Jesus was talking about our literal neighbors as well as those across the ocean.
Plain and simple: We are called to love.
That should be easy enough, right? Yet it’s not. I struggle to love the way Jesus calls us to, especially when my “neighbor” is someone who doesn’t believe the same things I do.
But what about when it’s also difficult to love people who are like us? I believe the answer is in the latter part of Christ’s command. We tend to hear the part telling us to “love your neighbor” but we somehow gloss over “as yourself.”
This should prompt us to ask the question, “How do I love myself?”
If you struggle to answer that question honestly, you are not alone. I was in your shoes not too long ago. However, I’ve learned during my walk with God that it is extremely hard to love the way He calls us to when we don’t even love ourselves.
When I first gave my life to Jesus, I was broken. I had decades of buried trauma that I never fully acknowledged or attended to. Even as an adult, I saw myself as the little girl who was never good enough for my peers. This belief led to me feeling inadequate as a wife and a mother. No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t seem to love myself the way I longed to. That is until I invited Jesus into healing my past wounds.
For once, I began to see myself the way Jesus saw me. Not through the lens of this world but as a daughter of the King of Kings! It was then that I realized the reason I always struggled with loving others freely was because I didn’t love myself the way God loves me. As soon as I opened my heart to His love, I was able to share it with others.
Today, I hope you see that you, too, are loved more than you will ever be able to comprehend! Such an understanding should encourage you to love in such a way that others experience a little piece of Heaven when they are with you.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me the way You do! Open my eyes to how You see me. Soften my heart so I may receive the fullness of Your love for me. When my self-image becomes hazy and the world begins to dictate my worth, help me to hear Your words of love and encouragement over all the noise. Fill me with Your love. Allow it to overflow so my love for others may reflect You. I love You and I trust You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Song of Reflection: “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris. Listen to it here.
Dr. Jessica B. Turner is a wife, mom, and LSU graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine.
After practicing small animal medicine for six years, she traded in her stethoscope to become an online wellness coach, motivational speaker, and writer with a passion for mental health advocacy. This major life change was sparked after Jessica struggled with postpartum depression soon after she birthed her twin girls.
Along with Jessica’s career change came the discovery of who Jesus Christ really is and how He was the missing piece for her to be able to move forward in past trauma that she had suppressed for decades. Jesus walked alongside Jessica as she underwent a transformation like none other.
God transformed Jessica’s life from a broken mom who struggled with depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and PTSD from witnessing an attempted suicide, to using her experiences to make her a powerful vessel for Him. To this day, God enables Jessica to touch the lives of others through her often unfiltered, yet inviting form of storytelling.
Throughout this process of refinement, Jessica has shared her life story with the world through her social media platforms, in-person events, blog posts, and podcasts. She values the gift of transparency and has discovered that what so many people need to know is that they are not alone. Jessica has walked in their shoes, and she wants the world to know that Jesus is walking with them as well.
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