Participating in a service year during the COVID-19 pandemic has been eye-opening for me in many ways. This year has given me the opportunity to think about what God is calling me to and about who I am called to be. As I am sure many people have been doing, I have been taking this time in pandemic and quarantine at FrancisCorps to reflect on who I really am and on purpose. Every time I think about how I felt called to service, I think about how this was a call to love those around me. Therefore, this year I have been reflecting a lot on love: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self.
In reflecting on love, I was pretty surprised to discover that I have never properly loved myself. No one teaches you how to do that; it is something you must learn and discover for yourself. This year has really given me the opportunity to really look at myself as a whole person and tune into myself and my needs, yet it is still so surprising to realize that I don’t love myself. We live in a culture that preaches self-love and self-acceptance and as a Christian, love is integral to who I am and who I am called to be. It is so hard to love yourself though and it seems like no one really ever talks about that. This may just be me, but I feel like the concept of love is so natural yet so difficult. We are told that in order to love others properly we must first love ourselves; we are taught how to love ourselves and others by looking at how God loves us and how we love God. The difficulty in this though is that if you’re not sure what that love looks like, how can you be sure of how to love yourself.
I’ve been really stumped for a while now as to how to love myself especially in this time of pandemic when I can’t live and explore aspects of my personality and different ways to love myself. It is incredibly frustrating to be in a position where I’m serving others on a daily basis and yet feel as if I do not properly understand how to love people. I thought that how I was serving people was loving them and loving them in the way I’m called to, but how can I be doing that when I can’t properly love myself? I think it is so frustrating to look at what I’ve done so far in my year of service and see how I’ve done many great things but think about how I could have done better or how I could’ve loved them better had I loved myself first.
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