“In order to understand the virtue of Love of Self, we must first understand that without God we are nothing!” -Franciscan Virtues Throughout the Year, p.83
As challenging as it is, sometimes I have to look carefully and in (an attempt to be) detached view of who I am and what it is that I’m doing.
Sometimes it means recognizing that the behaviors we engage in to protect ourselves end up pushing the people we love further away from us, or keep us from being authentic. In many ways, these are literally first world problems because other people are fighting desperately to just keep a roof over their heads.
Case in point is our mission in Cameroon. Right now, the mission is recovering from a very bizarre twist of having the church, orphanage, and living quarters demolished to make way for a public road. Now, Msgr. Joseph is literally scrambling to try and keep a roof over his head.
I’m hurt because while I’d like to be able to help financially, if I put out any more than what I currently am, my own home and family will suffer. I can do prayerful things like ask that more Masses be read on Cameroon’s behalf, I can fast on behalf of the mission, but at some point love of self requires that preservation come over charity.
I struggle with this as a Franciscan. The Franciscan philosophy is to give all until the point of nothing left to give that we might be able to better engage Christ in others, and in ourselves. But even Francis had to allow himself some comforts, even if that comfort was a stone floor to sleep on, a cave to pray in, or a tunic to cover his body.
Love of self, in terms of vocation, comes down to realizing that limiting our exposure to comfort can to a degree bring us closer to understanding and knowing God, but excessiveness can bring about a kind of pride that is dangerous.
Self Love is being able to act from the place in our hearts that is closest to God, closest to the danger places that we fear. It is being able to ask those questions that we are most afraid of asking, holding onto the ideas of the answers being painful, even heart breaking, but asking the questions none-the-less because not asking, not entering into those places, is to resist knowing the will of God. Love of self must be grounded in faith, in God, because love of self that rests anywhere else is selfishness that ends in darkness.