Monday, June 14, 2010

To love oneself is the start of a truly great romance

Or so said Oscar Wilde.

Still, I think that loving oneself is an art form--one that, unfortunately, often eludes me (and many of the women I know. While I'm sure men are also guilty of self-loathing, they don't seem to do so on nearly the same scale that women do. I wonder why that is?)

I just read an interesting bit of chick lit (The Frog Prince, by Jane Porter)--not necessarily the most stellar work of fiction, but it was fairly well written and the premise was interesting. The heroine, after a series of personal and professional disasters, finally comes to realize that the key for her happiness was not going to be found in someone else, because no one else (not family, not lovers) was going to be able to love her in quite the way that she wanted or needed. Her best shot at happiness, she decided, was in really learning how to love herself.

But while I like, and even applaud, this moral (it's much better than the typical happily-ever-after of the genre; and don't get me wrong, I like me some happily-ever-after, but the realism here appealed to me) still doesn't quite get it. I think we do need to love ourselves--I think we need to know that we are inherently lovable. To borrow a somewhat cliche'd and cheesy idea from a poster I saw years ago, "I know I'm somebody, because God don't make no junk." But the core of that is true: if we believe that we are children of God, doesn't that also mean that all of us are inherently lovable? God loves us, so there must be something in each of us worth loving.

Along the same lines, I read a talk by Elder Holland on the prodigal son--specifically, about the other son, the one who has spent his life in his father's service but feels jealous, threatened even, by the return of his brother. In this talk, Elder Holland makes some good points about the insidiousness of envy. But the most compelling point he makes (for me) is the idea that we are not diminished by someone else's gifts--because someone else is beautiful, intelligent, talented, does not make me any less of a person. Nor does praise showered on anyone make us less praise-worthy. (Although it's hard, seeing life through a worldly lens as it's so often easy to do, to remember this.) At any rate, I found the article a useful personal reminder that I am loved, warts and all.

1 comment:

  1. So many of these thoughts are things I have struggled and do struggle with. If you'll indulge me, allow me to share a few things I've been pondering:

    We women do seem to have a hard time learning to love ourselves. Sometimes I wonder if we Mormon women have an even harder time than other women... do we set our expectations for ourselves so high that we constantly disappoint ourselves with failure to reach impossible goals? Perhaps we yearn so much for perfection, that we can't quite focus on the fact that Christ, who sees even the warts we haven't noticed yet, loves us deeply, profoundly, eternally. I can't even begin to grasp that. As you say, to love ourselves we need to understand that we are lovable.

    And while loving oneself and knowing we are loved by God and by Christ are so vitally important, there are a lot of other sources for love in this world... True, these mere mortals are not perfect at loving us, their love may not be constant, they may even hurt us (inadvertently or no), but we still need them.

    And yet our culture seems to value independence and reward individuality over connection. Here's a conundrum I've been pondering: the importance of human touch... which is something I believe we all crave. It comes naturally in a romantic relationship, and with small children who haven't yet learned that in our world we keep our hands to ourselves. But absent those relationships (and many of us are absent those relationships at some point or other), where does one find this sustaining warmth? We don't seem to have other socially acceptable avenues for fulfilling this need.

    As always, Rosalyn, love reading your perspectives.