Challenge Day 25

As I write this, I’m a passenger in my own car on a family road-trip to my cousin’s out-of-state wedding. By the time this posts, the wedding will be over and we will be getting ready to head back home again. I’m not accustomed to writing in a car in such close proximity to the rest of my family; I’m more of a need-it-quiet, need-it-need, want-to-be-alone type of writer. In fact, I think the writer in me is one reason I put a high value on solitude. I like it quiet, and I like to be alone.

I also value safety and prefer my own driving over my husband’s. He’s one of those drivers I hate to have around me—always riding the tail of the person in front of him (“I’m not tailing them”), always speeding up even when brake lights are flashing on in front of us, always driving the automatic transition with both feet. Honestly, it scares me to sit in the passenger seat when he drives. Because I’m not in control. Because, I suppose, I trust myself more than I trust him (or pretty much anyone else).

I also just want to protect myself (and my kids). Despite the fact that he hasn’t been in an accident in the almost twenty years I’ve known him, I still tend to have the I-value-my-own-life, grabbing the handle on the ceiling next to my door reaction all too often when he is driving—accompanied, of course, with instructions for how he should be driving my car.

One thing that’s popping up here, again and again? I. Me. My. Did you catch that?

I value solitude.
I like it quiet.
i like to be alone.
I value safety.
I prefer my own driving.
I like to be in control.
I trust myself.
I want to protect myself.
I value my life.

All evidence that I love myself. I also know that I tend to be incredibly selfish and my self-love tends to come out in horrible ways sometimes—like the way I’m quick to defend myself when I feel attacked or insecure, the way I’m quick to complain when something makes my life a little harder, the way I’m quick to criticize when something isn’t done the way I like it (again, the control issue—it’s a known problem I’m working on). But again, although I don’t think of it consciously very often, I do love myself. My actions prove it.

Let me pause here to say that, in my selfishness, I don’t always make wise choices in my self-love—a lot of those choices have to do with how they affect those around me, my neighbors. But that’s a topic for tomorrow.

I think most people, upon examining their own actions and motives closely, would have to say the same thing: I love myself. I know some people are convinced of just the opposite, but at the same time those people usually long to love themselves, and long to have others love them.

Self-love—that’s what this challenge post is about.

Small decorative wooden crate on a table in foreground, with blurry, colorful books laying behind the crate in the background. Photo text: Challenge Day 25, self-love. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Inspiration. I find it interesting that when Jesus told us the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbors, he simply told us to love them like we love ourselves:

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39, NIV)

Those two little words—as yourself—are today’s challenge inspiration.

Today’s Challenge. How do you love yourself? Your challenge today is to explore the answers to this question through journaling and prayer. Ask God to reveal your own heart to you, and show you the ways in which you love yourself. Write them down. If you struggle with self-love, ask God to show you how you should love yourself.

Today’s Participation. Today’s topic is highly personal, so find someone you trust to talk about this with. If you’re comfortable, go ahead and share something you learned about how you love yourself online. It could help someone who is struggling and is not comfortable enough to share.

Challenge Day 24

Can anyone out there name the movie and scene this quote comes from?

“Love, true love…”

No? Perhaps it would be easier if spelled phonetically, the way it is pronounced in the movie:

“Wuv, twu wuv…”

Got it now?

When I sat down to write today’s blog and thought about the topic—true love, as in truly loving the Lord—that’s what popped into my head right away: a quote from pop culture, from a movie I saw when I was young (if no one guesses, perhaps I’ll put it in the comments later—until then you’ll have to be in suspense). The speed with which that popped into my mind is a testament to Thursday’s challenge post and the vast amount of (sometimes useless) information we’re constantly exposed to. But honestly, besides the phrase, it has nothing to do with today’s topic: the who—the recipient—of the love we’ve been exploring for the past few days.

Today’s Inspiration. We’ve been examining the way in which we are to love: with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength. But in doing so, we skipped over considering whom we are to love like this, taking that part of it for granted:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37, NIV)

Today, we’ll look at that phrase the Lord your God.

Shelf with old fashioned, red alarm clock sitting on it in top left-hand corner; blank wall in middle; galvanized steel star hung on the wall in bottom right-hand corner. Photo text: Challenge Day 24, the Lord your God. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Spend some time thinking about the phrase the Lord your God, about to whom it refers, and about what it means to call him Lord. Pray that the Lord will reveal something about himself to you before you begin and look to what he says about himself, in the Bible, rather than relying on your own understanding of him. It’s only really possible to love someone when you know something about who they are—so it’s important to discover who your Lord really is.

Today’s Participation. Have a conversation, post a comment, or create a post on social media that says something about who God is that makes him worthy of our love (trust me, he’s more than worthy!). When you do, refer to the Bible verse(s) in which God reveals that characteristic of himself to us.

I can’t leave this post without recommending one of my favorite books on this topic, Knowing God by J. I. Packer. It’s not an easy read but it is an excellent one!

Challenge Day 23

Today’s Inspiration. For the past few days, we’ve been inspired by Matthew 22:37, in which Jesus quoted the greatest commandment of them all. But in the English, the commandment reads a bit differently in Deuteronomy, when Moses first gave it, than it does in Matthew:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (4:4-6, NIV)

Did you catch that? The Hebrew in Deuteronomy is translated into English as with all your strength, whereas yesterday’s verse—and the Greek in Matthew—is translated as with all your mind. We’ll turn our focus to strength today.

A gray pillow with white whip-stitching around the edges and an appliquéd letter S against a pale background. Photo text: Challenge Day 23, strong love. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Today, explore what Moses’ command to love the LORD your God with all your strength means and if it is different from loving the Lord with all your mind. Use a study Bible or a tool like Bible Hub to find verses that use the same or similar language, or look at the meaning of the original Hebrew used in Deuteronomy and compare it to the meaning of the Greek used in Matthew (you can use Bible Hub for this, too). Don’t forget to pray as you begin your exploration.

Today’s Participation. Today is the day to put it all together: Describe or depict what it would be or look like if you were able to do as commanded and love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Share your description or depiction with a friend or post it online. If you post it in Instagram, use #writinglifeaugustchallenge and follow me @rhondalorraineblog so I can see it!