I’ve heard it said a number of times – to “love your neighbor as yourself” you must first love yourself. I’ve often struggled with this idea of loving myself in a way that doesn’t feel conceited or egotistical. The other day when I was pondering this, a new way of looking at it came to me…
When I was a little kid, my family and friends called me Kimi (well, they all spelled it differently at the time – some Kimmy, others Kimmie – but I like this spelling so I’m going to stick to it).
I’ve recently been helping out a family friend who knew me when I was little and apparently refers to me as Kimi to her friends that I’ve also been helping , are so now they are all calling me Kimi… and it got me thinking about my childhood self… little Kimi Hedge.
What if I thought about just loving little Kimi… the little kid that was pretty smart (though really had to work at the good grades sometimes), athletic, good at art… and yet really awkward at times. She was never one of the popular or cool kids … and spent years vacillating between wanting to be like everyone else and fit in, and then wanting not to be like everyone else and stand out. I thought about how this kid loved summer camp and was full of life there, and wanted everyone else to love it just as much. This kid was daring and brave and creative… and klutzy… and often had terrible haircuts.
I just started to love this little kid in all her adorableness and awkwardness (and great outfits) and all the rest. And I began to see her as God sees each one of us – as Her beloved child… innocent, joyful, free… and to love her just as God loves her.
Well then I decided maybe it’s not bad to be called Kimi again… to remind me of that great, awkward, funny little kid… and to embrace my natural childlikeness even now… my innocence, purity, childlike joy and freedom.
And then, when I go to love my neighbor as myself… I can love the little child they were and truly still are… the child of God. And I can apply this even to people I don’t agree with or have much in common with… because we were all innocent little kids once. And we are all God’s children – always. So how can you see yourself and others as God’s child and love them as yourself?