The qualities of love proposed by Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving, are giving, care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.  I am exploring these themes during Advent to see what they mean when applied to loving ourselves.  I believe that we need to love ourselves before we can truly love others.   In Advent 1, I explored caring for yourself.  In Advent 2, I explored knowing yourself.  Today I want to explore respecting yourself.

The first things that comes to mind when I think about respect, is the great song by the great Aretha Franklin:

R-E-S-P-E-C-TFind out what it means to meR-E-S-P-E-C-TTake care, TCBOh (sock it to me, sock it to meSock it to me, sock it to me)A little respect (sock it to me, sock it to meSock it to me, sock it to me)Whoa, babe (just a little bit)

We all want to be respected by the people in our lives - those we encounter and especially the people that we love and who love us.  I have certainly had the experience of not being respected by people in my life, usually not people who I am close to.  I have also not always shown respect to everyone I have encountered in my life.  That has led to many regrets that are the ghost that visit me at 4:00 in the morning. I am sure that most people, if not everyone, has had that experience. 

That being said, what does it mean to respect yourself?  After all, that is the topic I am exploring this morning.  I believe that the basis for respecting myself and yourself is to know yourself.  Each person has aspects that he or she does not want to acknowledge or doesn’t even know is part of themselves.  Carl Jung called these aspects of ourselves as, the Shadow.  They can be most easily recognized in dreams as a dark, shadowy person who is behaving in ways that are not acceptable or even nice when assessed by our conscious selves.  They can also be recognized when we have an overreaction to someone, we take an instant dislike to.  We see aspects of ourselves in them that we have denied. 

If we are to respect ourselves – all of who we are we must acknowledge the whole package.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses but we are called to become those strengths that we embrace and celebrate do not come without those parts of ourselves that we do not embrace.  To love who you are, who God created you to be is to acknowledge all of who you are.  It does not mean you have to live out those aspects of yourself which you find it difficult to accept but you need to first be aware of them and to accept yourself as you are.  If you do that you may be able to understand yourself and decide how you want to live with all of who you are.  That will enable you to come to know what it means to respect yourself.  As Aretha says, you will be able to show yourself respect - just a little bit; Whoa, babe (just a little bit) and then even more.

May you be blessed to know and respect yourself on your journey this Advent.