Monday, July 4, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Loving God

How Knowing Yourself is a Way of Loving Yourself, and God
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

Have you ever gone so far in one direction you started to lose the path entirely?

After a perhaps predictably self-absorbed period in my teenage and young adult years, I found myself coming boldly before the Lord. Tired of all the self-centeredness of my youth, it was wildly liberating to focus on God, to focus on other people and their needs before my own. I found a joy and a peace I’d never before experienced.

Many of the scriptures talk about dying to the self, or decreasing so that God can increase in me (Ephesians 4:22-24, John 3:30, Galatians 2:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:31).

This is a good thing, but sometimes we can do this to the extreme—push the self so far down that we barely know ourselves anymore. In one sense you could argue this is the perfect opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move through us and guide and direct our steps so we are serving the Lord perfectly and completely. But I don’t think losing ourselves entirely is God’s intention. Yes, it is very, very good to put God and others first before ourselves. But I’ve realized over the years that when we strive to lose ourself entirely, problems can set in. We forget who we are, and we actually open ourselves up to temptations in that forgetting.

I’ve always been a person who loves self-discovery quizzes. When I was a teen I’d read those tests in magazines titled something along the lines of, “Answer These Questions and We’ll Tell You Which Dog Breed You Are.” Later at work I’d take things like the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator and, more recently, the DISC assessment. It felt good to have some things explained to myself, to understand. I probably appreciated the label, too, to be able to say definitively, “This is who I am,” as if that were the answer to all my problems. (It wasn’t.)

But over the years I started to put these things aside. My kids’ and husband’s needs became far more important than mine. Eventually I found myself being so easygoing about almost everything that if somebody asked me what I wanted for dinner, I genuinely couldn’t tell them. In all the focus on others, I forgot some of my own likes and wants and even opinions.

Learning more about the Enneagram personality types has been interesting lately because it’s allowed me to stop and focus on things about myself again, things I hadn’t thought about in a while, such as what motivates me, why do I do some of the things I do, what shaped some of the values I hold dear, and so on.

In the particular book I’m reading, The Road Back to You, a Christianity-based Enneagram book by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, the authors make an excellent point about how knowing yourself is so important in our journey as Christians because when we know ourselves well, we better understand what tempts us, what our weaknesses are. This can help us in our own sanctification process—our process of becoming more like Jesus Christ.

Knowing about ourselves can be a very good thing. It allows us to love ourselves and have deeper intimacy with ourselves, to understand some of the areas of our heart that perhaps we’ve long ignored. And when we can know and love ourselves fully, it’s also an act of love for God, because God loves us.

See, when we love what God loves, this is an act of kinship and solidarity. Denying ourself doesn’t mean disliking ourself. And I would argue that we have a tougher time denying ourself for the Lord when we don’t really know ourselves.

I have always been a bit of a loner with low self-esteem, as much as I adore people, and for many years I found it difficult to make friends. Eventually as I started to genuinely like myself and enjoy and appreciate who I am, I started enjoying my own company, and soon friendships with other people began to follow.

Similarly, I began growing extraordinarily close to God when I began to love myself and truly appreciate myself. I discovered important to love myself, care for myself, and honor myself along with God and others. Yes, I think it’s important to rank God first, others second, and self last when it comes to priorities. But we’re on that list too—we are important to the Lord.

In the words of the psalmist, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). It’s good to remember this.

How about you? Do you find yourself focusing on yourself too much, or the reverse, hardly at all? Have you discovered a correlation between this and your relationship with God like I have? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, please help me remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by You, Creator and Master of all the universe. Help me to love and appreciate myself knowing that You love and appreciate me. In my own process of sanctification, help me not forget who I am along the way because I am important to You, and what is important to You should also be important to me. I love You, Lord, and thank You for the gift of my soul. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

Jessica has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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