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It’s true, love focuses on meeting the needs of others without being preoccupied with our own self-interest. But to love others as we love ourselves assumes we have some sense of loving ourselves well. And it’s hard to truly bring joy to others when we don’t know how to receive it. As such, it’s not a selfish pursuit to consider what brings us joy. In fact, this might be the first step we need to take in our practice of love

To be sure, it’s good to focus on how we can serve others. But bitterness can quickly take root when this is not overflowing from the joy of our own hearts. Our serving in these cases often come with strings attached. We do because we expect others to return the favor, and we grow resentful when they don’t.

On the other hand, our love is free when our hearts are already filled with joy. We’re able to serve from our abundance without demanding anything in return. But this requires us to consider and actively pursue those things that allow our hearts to smile.

For instance, this might come through time with our friends, a good book, or even just a good cup of coffee. Or perhaps it’s a hobby, listening to our favorite music, or traveling, even if just to our backyard. Whatever it looks like, we’re creating space for our souls to breathe and fill up on the goodness and beauty God has for us. And this is an end in its own right.

This is not about self-improvement or otherwise working on ourselves. Of course, there’s a place for this work. But here the point is simply to bask in the joy and pleasure of God – like watching a sunset for no other purpose except to enjoy its beauty.

In the end, it’s much easier to love others when your own heart is overflowing with joy. Take the time to consider what brings you joy, for your own sake and theirs.

Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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