This blog post was originally posted on tumblr.
I remember how awkward this phrase was the first time someone said it to me. I didn’t know how to receive it or what the proper response should be. Overtime, I accepted it without hesitation and agreed that maybe that was just my downfall. Maybe the reason for the unanswerable events in my life was because I was too selfless. Maybe I didn’t fight for myself enough. Maybe I didn’t do enough to gain favor. Maybe I didn’t make my rights known enough for a better outcome. If I’m honest, this “problem” felt good and right. It justified the why behind things, and pointed me as the problem in an extremely heroic light. If I was going to be condemned for doing something wrong, I’d rather it be twisted in a way where I appeared a battered hero and not some conniving villain. Haha.
I started catching myself saying the same thing to others. When I had no comment to make, the answer would automatically be, “You know what the problem is? You’re too selfless.” If life went haywire, it was because they were too selfless. If they got hurt, it was because they were too selfless. If they were misunderstood, it was because they were too selfless.
After saying it to someone one day, I remember it not sitting right with me. God didn’t tell me it was wrong. He didn’t correct me. I don’t even think He even whispered anything, really. I just remember feeling like I didn’t really mean what I said, and I didn’t really believe it was true. I just said it because it was an easy way to make someone feel better about the situation. I mean, it worked for me, right?
I started thinking to myself: Too selfless? Is there even such a thing? Where did I get that theology from? Because I sure couldn’t find it anywhere in the bible. But here’s what I did find:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-38
I’m learning that the problem is not being too selfless. There’s no such thing. If there is, then Jesus would be first in line to have some major issues. Haha. The problem is that we love out of order. The one who loves himself but does not yet love the Lord, will his love not bear fruits of pride? And the one who loves his neighbor but does not yet love himself, will his love not bear fruits of insecurity? It’s no wonder when our ego gets bruised or an insecure button gets pushed, our selflessness feels like a better answer than our inability to love as God intended us to.
When people ask me what this year has taught me, I tell them that it amazes me the extent God would go to teach me how to love myself. I initially thought God stripped everything away because I wasn’t giving him enough attention and I needed to learn how to love him more. But actually, God showed me that he never questioned my love. He knew I loved him and didn’t need to test it. What he wanted to show me instead was how I went straight from loving him to loving people, and I had completely skipped the part where I learned to love myself. And he saw it as a priority that I would learn to do this well.
I realized that the problem was never that I was too selfless. This conclusion sowed a seed of pride in me. The problem was that I loved out of order when I did not count myself worthy of perfect love. This conclusion brought me to such a place of humility. In my mind, I was a servant with the responsibility to hand-off the love of the King to his people. But I now know that I’m a daughter who is immensely loved by the Father with a love so safe and complete and perfect. As a daughter, I lack nothing, which means I can never give too much, I can never do too much, and I can never love too much. The kingdom of God is abundant and overflows with love. When we learn to love in the right order, we will never reach the line where we find ourselves offended for having given too much of ourselves.