There’s a quote from the Bible that you’ve probably heard before: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
This quote from First Corinthians is often a part of wedding ceremonies, especially because, while it comes from the Bible, you don’t need to be religious to appreciate the message. While I am not religious at all, I came across it the other day, and it had a big impact on me. I had never considered the non-romantic kinds of love it could apply to, but in the middle of a very difficult week, I read the passage and realized that I should be applying this kind of logic to self-love as well.
I’ve always found it very difficult to practice self-love. Despite what people say about needing to love yourself before you can love another, I’ve always been very capable of seeing good in other people while being equally harsh on myself. My wife and I have a great relationship, but I wouldn’t say that I love myself. A big part of that is the “record of wrongs” that I keep against myself.
I remember all the stupid things I’ve said or done, all the actions I regret or the challenges I didn’t surmount, and whenever I’m called upon to act with self-love, I bring up this record of wrongs as proof that I am not worth it. When I receive compliments, I respond (internally) with an insult of equal weight, drawn from this record. When I am unhappy, I use the record to prove to myself why I should be unhappy.
I have depression, which may be why it’s difficult for me to be nice to myself. But the First Corinthians quote is inspiring me to take one step on the journey to self-love, starting with erasing that record of wrongs—or, if I can’t erase it, to stop adding to it, to stop collecting evidence that I am an intrinsically bad person. I want to be able to treat myself as well as I treat others, in a kind of reverse Golden Rule.