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Latter-day Saint Therapist: Here's Why God Loves You and Why You Should Love Yourself

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Billions of people worldwide believe in God in some form or another. One of the most universal doctrines is that God loves everyone. Sometimes people settle into the idea that “God loves everyone simply because He’s God.” To me, this is a lazy, impractical theology. If God just arbitrarily loves everyone, vaguely and collectively, then there is nothing special about any of us. If this were the case, we would have every right to engage in self-pity or self-loathing, regardless of divine affection.

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Why God Loves You

Let me tell you exactly why, I believe, God loves you. It is because He knows you. He knows me. He knows each of us intimately. His love for you isn’t an ambiguous affection directed at you as part of a group, but a personal love directed at you as an individual. He loves you because, knowing you as well as He does, He sees in you specific things that are worthy of love. Therefore, if you loathe or pity yourself, it is because you don’t see yourself as He sees you. You are overlooking (or minimizing) the good stuff. Another way of saying this is that God loves everybody because He looks for, and finds, the good in everyone.

The Example of Christ

I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that He is God, as is His Father. During His life, Jesus consistently found the good in people, even (and especially) people others saw as worthless. Of the “unclean” Roman soldier who sought to heal his beloved servant, Jesus said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). While everyone else saw Matthew as a despicable tax collector, Jesus saw his potential as a good man and invited him to join the disciples. When the sinful woman anointed the Lord’s feet and washed them with her tears, others recoiled at her lifestyle but Jesus looked for, and found, the good in her. “Her sins,” He said, “which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). There are many other examples.

The Overlooked Commandment to Love Thyself

The film Dan in Real Life contains this poignant and insightful line: “Love isn’t a feeling; it’s an ability.” God’s ability to love is His ability to find something in us worth loving. If you see yourself as worthless, as pathetic, as hopeless, know that God loves you because of who you are and who you can be. God is not foolish. God is not crazy. If He loves you (and He does) for your worthy traits, both actual and potential, then do yourself a favor and love yourself. With humility and without minimizing, embrace all the things that are good about you. This will give you the strength to work on those things that aren’t.

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Jonwe

Jonathan Decker, LMFT

Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist and clinical director of Your Family Expert. He offers online relationship courses to people anywhere, as well as face-to-face and online therapy to persons in several states. Jonathan has presented at Brigham Young University Education Week and at regional conferences in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. He is married with five children. Contact him here and join his Facebook group for daily Gospel-based relationship tips. 

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