Practicing the Art of Loving Well

Imagine the impact we could have in the lives of those around us if we practiced the art of loving ourselves well.

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When it comes to laundry in our house, I tend to wash, fold, and put away everyone else’s clothes and leave mine in clean, heaping, wrinkly piles in the closet. Some of my excuses for this behavior are:

I don’t have enough time.

I don’t have enough energy.

My clothes aren’t as important to put away as theirs are.

My reasoning for taking care of cleaning, folding, and putting everyone else’s clothes away for them is:

I want them to have peace and not feel stressed when it comes to finding something to wear in the morning.

I want them to feel taken care of in the little things.

I want them to have structure, and experience some kind of organization.

I want them to live with less mess, and feel less stressed.

Wanting all of that for my family is good. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with it.

But wouldn’t it be good if I took the time to organize my clothes too so I could have peace and not feel stressed when it comes to me to find something to wear in the morning? Maybe my morning would flow a little bit easier and I would be less of a stress case getting everyone out the door. There would probably be less frustration and more peace being poured out onto my kids as I send them off to school. Wouldn’t it be nice if I felt taken care of in the little things too? What about having a little more structure, organization, and less mess of my own?

This “laundry” situation is something that the Lord has really impressed on my heart throughout the last several years. Really, it has nothing to do with physical laundry and everything to do with loving myself enough to deal with the messy state of my own heart, so I can have the capacity to love my people well. In many circles of conversations, this subject seems to be an ongoing theme. Not that the women I speak with have a hard time keeping the clothes in their closet in order, but what I’m hearing is that they tend to struggle in their daily life, taking care of everyone else’s needs and neglecting their own, which leaves them feeling frazzled, impatient, stressed out, and out of control. Which then affects everyone else around them: their kids, their husband, their co-workers, their friends, and anyone else they come into contact with on a regular basis.

Why is it that we, as women, seem to have this tendency to take care of everyone else’s needs and neglect our own?

Take a look at this verse from Mark 12:31 TPT:

“And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”

God didn’t say “You must love yourself in the same way that you love your neighbor.” It was the other way around: He said: “You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.”

Let me ask you a few questions:

How can we expect to love our kids well, if we are running around feeling frazzled, impatient, strung out, stressed out, out of time, and out of control? How can we love our husband well? Our friends well? The lady at the grocery store behind the counter?

How can we expect to love the people around us well, when we don’t even know how to love ourselves?

Do we know what loving ourselves even looks like?

What if facing our wrinkly piles of laundry that need to be cleaned, organized, and put away in the closet of our heart is one good way we could love ourselves, so we could walk in peace and have the capacity to effectively love the people around us — in the way that God is calling us to love them?

Imagine the impact we could have on the lives of those around us if we practiced the art of loving ourselves well.

We would be happier, be more at peace, less frazzled, less stressed, have more energy, more clarity, be more rested, be more intentional, and the list goes on.

We would know, through trial and error, what has worked for us and what hasn’t. Out of the overflow of our practice, we would have a deeper knowledge and understanding of how to love and serve others well, based on what we have learned from our own personal experience.

Maybe our daily lives would flow a little bit easier and we would be less of a stress case accomplishing what needs to be done. There would probably be less frustration and more peace being poured out onto the people we love as we go about our day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we felt taken care of in the little things? What would it feel like, having a little more structure, organization, and a little less chaos?

I have spent the better part of the last several years, working on the piles of wrinkly laundry that have been sitting in my heart for years, begging to be cleaned up, organized and put away. At the beginning of the process, I didn’t want to do it. I made excuses.

I didn’t have enough time.

I didn’t have enough energy.

That my stuff wasn’t as important as what everyone else was dealing with.

But it was a lie.

My perspective was off.

The truth is, I couldn’t afford not to do the hard work.

I desperately needed to find peace because what I was doing wasn’t working.

I needed to feel taken care of in the little things because I was falling apart.

I needed to have structure, and experience some kind of organization because I was living in pure chaos.

I needed less stress because everyone around me was silently suffering while I ran around like a crazy lady, spilling out my frustration on the people I loved the most.

Think about it. If we don’t love and care for ourselves, and put in the hard work of cleaning up the messy laundry in our own hearts, then we will not be able to have the capacity, the knowledge, the peace, the patience, the whatever, to effectively love the people that God has put in our lives in the way they need us to love them. If we don’t take the time to unwind and unravel the lies and the blind spots that bind us, then our perspectives will be off. We will spend the rest of our lives feeling frazzled, impatient, strung out, stressed out, out of time, and out of control. Do we really want that? Are we really being called to live that way? I know I’m not, and I know I don’t want to live my life that way. I have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t want to live that way either.

So, I challenge you.

What are a few things you can do to start loving yourself better? What is something you can do for yourself today that will make you a better mom, wife, friend, co-worker, or daughter? What is some dirty laundry that has been lingering in your heart that you can start consciously working on?

Go for a run? Say no to a few things? Skip that glass of wine? Literally clean your closet? Eat a healthy meal? Take a mid-afternoon nap? Read a good book? Spend 15 minutes praying and pouring out to God whatever is on your mind? Simply make space and time for something that brings you life? Adjust your schedule so you’re not so strung out? Consciously choose a patient tone with your kids instead of being short and snappy? Make that appointment with the counselor so you can process that thing that’s been bothering you?

Whatever it is, please do it. Even if you don’t want to at the beginning. Even if it’s hard. Even if you’re scared. Please don’t make excuses.

Don’t believe the lies that you’re not worth it.

The truth is, none of us can afford not to do the hard work.

The truth is, we all desperately need to find peace.

We all need to feel taken care of in the little things.

We all need to have structure and experience some kind of organization, so we don’t keep living in pure chaos.

We all need less stress in our everyday life so we can pour out our love on the people we love the most.

Imagine the impact we would have in the lives of those around us if we put in the hard work of learning how to love ourselves well so we could walk in peace and have the capacity to effectively love the people around us in the way that God is calling us to love them?

“You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.” You will never find a greater commandment than these.”

Mark 12:31 TPT

 

Featured Image by Xavier Mouton

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About the Author

Brandie Muncaster is a wife and mother who possesses a passion for God’s Word, praying for people, and seeing God transform people’s lives through inner healing. As someone who has known the powerful transforming work of God in her own life, it is her passion to see others experience the same! Brandie and her husband have been married for over a decade, and they have three young children. Their most favorite past times are playing sports, and spending time outdoors either at the beach or in the mountains. The Muncaster family happily resides in the Charlotte, NC area.