by Vince Eimer
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in Vince Eimer’s seven-part series on journeying through the Lenten season.
On a vacation visiting my brother and his family in Seattle a few years ago, I saw a niece and nephew, cousins to each other, randomly playing with toys on the living room floor.
My 2-year-old nephew had finished playing with a toy and set it aside. My 4-year-old niece then picked it up. You can guess what happened next. An explosion from the 2-year-old when his cousin grabbed “his” toy. His focus was on himself and not wanting to lose that toy, even to his good friend and cousin.
If you are reading this, you have been that 2-year-old and learned to share. With more practice, we eventually come to see the value of other people and discover the joy in being generous to them.
We learn the surprise of true love of self. The surprise is that it is not all about me. True self-love is not measured by how much we do to make ourselves comfortable and happy. The standard of measurement is how much we do for God and how much we do to benefit our neighbor.
The greatest amount of self-love is seen in the people who are most like Christ in how they love others. We call these people saints.
I most love myself when I most love in the way Jesus loved. He loved to the point of giving up his physical life for us in the crucifixion, a form of death designed by the Romans to cause the greatest amount of pain for the longest time possible. He loved to the point of suffering in the most intense emotional way: feeling abandoned by his Father, with whom he had the closest connection throughout his life. Through this double suffering, physical and emotional, he was able to take on his shoulders the weight of all the sins of all the people of all times. He bore that weight so that we did not have to bear it ourselves and die because of its force. By Jesus’ love, our friendship with God was restored and deepened into our being not just friends of God but his adopted children.
To the degree that we are able to remake ourselves into the image of Christ, so far do we become the best version of who we are meant to be. There is no better way to show love for ourselves than to be like Christ.
Let us daily keep our eyes open to the needs of others. Each day, the little acts of kindness that we are able to do are individual tiles making of us a mosaic portrait of Jesus that we are offering to the Father.