Love your neighbor as yourself…

Quick announcement! Congratulations to Kim Sexton who won the amazing prize bundle from last week’s mega giveaway! Now to today’s guest post from my dear Texas sister Stephanie Clayton!

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I am so excited and honored to be a guest on Heather Bleier’s blog today. I love to spend time in Heather’s online space because she challenges me towards discipline in my walk with God, and discipline is certainly something this free-spirited girl needs! Thank you Heather for having me, I am honored to say the least.

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

There is something to be said for the hardest, most difficult, gut wrenching times in our life. While we are going through them, we may be numb to what is going on. Our minds have a way of protecting us and keeping us from what would otherwise be overwhelming. But when it comes to the surface, the pain is just as fresh as if it had happened that day. It is all still there. Time does not heal all wounds. Only God heals these kinds of wounds. Wounds of the heart. Wounds of the soul. Wounds of the spirit. Wounds that can only be healed by Jesus.

My wound was like this. It was one I had buried for years. It was actually quite a productive little wound. It went a long way in pushing me towards pursuing my degrees. Although, I would soon be disappointed that even after the degrees, the hurt was still there. That wounded little girl was still cowering inside. No amount of education, money, affirmation, or addiction would heal her. In fact, I spent a long time wondering if there was anything that would ever heal her, and for that matter, why my loving Savior let her get wounded in the first place.

I still don’t know if she is healed completely, or that she ever will be. I don’t have answers to all the questions, and that is okay. Like I said, the wound is part of what has gotten me to the place I am today. But…I do know that I love her, and I know that Jesus loves her too. I do know that He never abandoned her, and that she no longer abandons herself. I do know that she is beautiful. I do know that although she blamed herself for years, it really wasn’t her fault. That there is a difference between a 31-year-old woman wishing she would have made different decisions as a 15-year-old and a 31-year-old woman blaming a 15-year-old for an assault that she did not ask for. I do know without a doubt that I love her. Which, coming from someone who a few years ago wrote words to her that she would never have written to her worst enemy, is a gigantic step.

I know that God would ask us to be humble and forsake ourselves for the love of others and for Him. However, for some of us, it is easy to interpret that as, “it’s okay to hate myself as long as I am doing things for others”. And it is absolutely not okay. If it was, why would He have commanded us to love others as we have loved ourselves?

If there is a part of yourself that you have cut off, that you have buried alive, maybe it’s time to bring her back to the surface. Maybe it’s time to let her breath again. Maybe it’s time to forgive her. The road is long, and the journey is difficult, but it is worth every step. It is worth it to know that you have nothing to hide. That you can love others and God with your whole heart, holding nothing back. It is worth it to know you can love yourself again. It is worth it to hear your Savior whisper I love you in your ear and be able to whisper it back to Him knowing you have given Him all of you, faithfully, forever.

Is there something in your life you have been holing back from God? What will you surrender to Him today? We invite you to share below or leave a prayer request.

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Stephanie Clayton is a writer, speaker, and counselor with a passion for integrating Bible teaching with professional counseling. She has a Master’s Degree in counseling and a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology. Stephanie uses practical application and insight to help women find freedom from their past, embrace forgiveness, and move forward towards wholeness in Christ. Stephanie is the wife of a police officer and mother of two. She loves JESUS!!!! and a good skinny vanilla latte, bright colors, and fabulous shoes! You can find out more about Stephanie at: www.stephanieclayton.org.

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8 thoughts on “Love your neighbor as yourself…

  1. There has been many times I wondered about that particular verse, and how we were to love others as we love ourselves….when we didn’t really even like ourselves. With counseling I am getting closer to figuring out who I really am, and somewhat embracing that person. But I still have far to go. I just try to remember that God created me to be…well, Me. And as flawed as I am, I am still precious to God, even when I don’t feel precious to myself or others.

    Over the years in therapy, I have come to have more self-confidence, and trust my own instincts. And over the last year or so of Christian therapy, I have learned to better release things to God, and trust, really trust Him with things. To stop trying to control as much the things that are outside of my control. To rest in the peace that only God provides, and to focus more on God and less on the problems before me. While self is not where we as Christians want to focus, I believe that there is a healthy balance between having self confidence, and trusting your instincts and trusting God that needs to be reached…because I feel that God wants his daughters to have confidence. Even if it is the confidence that God has things under control, and without Him we are nothing. I can’t believe that He wants people to have no self confidence, because it is essential to believe in yourself, in order to become who God would have us to be.

    I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I sin, but God loves me anyway.

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    1. Deanna, thank you so much for sharing so openly. I agree with what you write, and I am so glad to hear that you have sought out counseling – I cannot express enough how much Christian counseling helped me find out who I was and that God made me that way for a reason. Who He has made us is a beautiful thing! And one we certainly can take joy in embracing! I would like to pray with you Deanna…Dear Lord, thank you for Deanna. Thank you for her heart that continues to seek and trust You for her identity, strength, witness, and purpose. God I pray that she will feel your presence and love wash over her this week and always as she walks along the path you have prepared for her. Your word tells us not to throw away our confidence, for it will be richly rewarded, and I am praying for those rewards to come in abundance to sweet Deanna as she finds her confidence in You. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

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  2. Thank you for this post Stephanie and Heather! This verse has been a life lesson for me… challenging me for a handful of years. I’ve been amazed at how, if we choose to NOT love ourselves, it completely disregards God’s creation! I guess my life shows how stinkin’ funny God is… I love that He loves me… with all of my random idiosyncrasies. Stephanie, you have brought such powerful truths to light… thank you! xoxo

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  3. Stephanie, this is an absolutely beautiful message of love and HOPE. I pray many women are freed through your words and learn to SEE themselves as their heavenly Father sees them and LOVE themselves as He desires them to. You have a most tender and precious heart, and I am so thankful to know you and minister alongside you…and Heather. I love you both!!!

    Blessings to you,

    Wendy

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    1. Wendy, sweet sister, this comment carries extra weight to me because I know what you have been through yourself – and I find so much of myself in your story. I am so thankful for you sweet sister and for your sweet kind and encouraging words. And yes it is absolutely my prayer that the brokenhearted sister out there who experienced what no human being should have to experience will find this post and find the love and hope that only Christ can bring. I love you sweet sister…thank you for taking the time to leave such sweet encouragement.

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