So we’ve been instructed to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul… and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Part one of this series looked more at the first part of the commandment and what it means to be triune beings, not only in faith, but in health.
However, a part of health and wellness that is quite often overlooked is how we approach our neighbours and our communities. This for me, as a health professional, is such a key part of our wellbeing. Speaking from experience, it’s been connection and community that has brought about the most healing for me and there are many studies that back the idea that so much of our healing occurs through relationships.
As a Christian, there’s also the added dimension that this call to relationship forms the second part of the great commandment. However, as Christians we can quite often turn this part of the commandment into: “Look after your neighbour instead of yourself.” This quite often leads on from not knowing how to do the first part of the commandment.
When we live from a place of knowing how to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, loving our neighbour then turns into as ourselves and not instead of ourselves. It’s so important to learn, be taught and seek out how to live by the first commandment before looking after our neighbour.
Now, I’m not saying we need to be perfect in this area, or even seek perfection, but without loving God and ourselves in honesty and vulnerability, we can’t do the same for others and so we end up either hurting people, ourselves, or both.
We all know someone in Christian or secular ministry who has burnt out. The ‘good work’, in this viewpoint, is more important than health and wellbeing. I’m not going to go as far as saying that these people don’t love the Lord or themselves properly, or even enough, but burn-out is running riot and it often comes from a place of not knowing how to rest. Of course, some people develop illnesses that occur due to other reasons beyond their control. For everyone else though, there’s rest and knowing how to rest and how to be.
Be still and know that I am God.
Rest and being is the bedrock of loving God and ourselves, with all of our being, and the bedrock of rest is knowing that we are loved for just being us. Luke 3:22 says: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
In this moment, Jesus was affirmed for who he was. It was this voice which spoke to Jesus about who He was and it was this voice which led Jesus out to his neighbour. Jesus’ identity was received, not achieved.
It’s this voice – the voice of our Father – which speaks into us the importance of accepting people for who they are and knowing that an important part of our spirit and soul is made up in encounters with other people. But an encounter with God and ourselves should precede encounters with others. This is a process, so I’m not saying we can’t help anyone until we’ve got our love for God and ourselves sorted, but I wonder if we can stop to recognise the motivations when we go to relate to, or help, others. Is it balanced with other areas of our life?
Just simply helping people will not get us to heaven, or bring health to our spirits – just like drinking green juices and meditating won’t, in themselves, bring spiritual awakening and wellbeing to our bodies. One is just as important as the other. Neither will have its full effect on us or others until we learn to approach our love for God, ourselves and others from a place of rest.
Letting our hearts be at rest within every area of our life will bring more benefit than we know: bringing wellbeing to our physical, spiritual and emotional self, all the way to our neighbour.
When we feel secure in who we are as children of God, we become secure in every part of ourselves, and within every interaction we have. We are secure in loving our neighbour as our self, and not instead of our self. We can operate from a place of love and bring the right balance to every area of our life, bringing rest for our heart, mind, soul and body and bringing it into a place of rest with our neighbour.