Sharing the Love
Learning to love ourselves
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider how Jesus’ teaching on love can inspire us towards self-care.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Sharing the Love) and the means to display them.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘All you need is love’ by the Beatles and the means to play it during the assembly. It is 3.51 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7xMfIp-irg
- Optional: you may wish to familiarize yourself with the Mental Health Foundation’s blog about eight simple ways to practise self-love. It is available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/8-simple-ways-practise-self-love
- As the students enter, play the audio of the YouTube video ‘All you need is love’ by the Beatles.
Show Slide 1.
Welcome the students to the assembly.
It is February, the month when we traditionally exchange cards and gifts to show our love for others. Valentine’s Day is on 14 February, and the shops are full of chocolates, flowers and cards that we can buy and send to someone to say, ‘I love you!’
- But . . . have you ever considered writing yourself a Valentine’s card?
Show Slide 2.
It might sound strange, but perhaps it’s not such a daft idea. In fact, Jesus had quite a lot to say about love, and that included showing love to ourselves.
Let’s listen to Jesus’ reply when he was asked what was really important in life.
- Show Slide 3.
‘He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as you love yourself.”’ (Luke 10.27).
This quotation comes from Luke’s Gospel, but there are almost identical sayings in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. These words of Jesus were considered important enough to be recorded in all three accounts of his life. Jesus’ teaching here says a lot about how important love is: in a sense, he is saying, to quote the Beatles, ‘All you need is love.’
- It’s the second part of Jesus’ answer that I want to focus on today. The first part tells us that loving God is important, which is something that most people already understand to be an important aspect of being a Christian. However, the second part of Jesus’ answer is sometimes surprising to people. Let’s take a closer look.
Jesus tells us, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ So, we are to love others in the same sorts of ways that we love ourselves.
- Show Slide 4.
The coronavirus pandemic has provided many opportunities for us to love our neighbour. We have had the chance to show that we care about their wellbeing by listening to them, offering practical support and expressing kindness.
The slide shows two examples of loving your neighbour. On the left is an image from a nationwide initiative started by a church in London. #LoveYourNeighbour was a social response that was launched at the start of the pandemic to provide emergency food and supplies to those most in need.
Ask the students if they can guess what is happening in the second image. Ask them who they think the person is and how he is loving his neighbour.
If appropriate, ask the students to contribute answers.
The person in the picture is Marcus Rashford, a footballer for Manchester United and England who has done a lot to help others. In March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, he teamed up with the charity FareShare to deliver meals to children who were in need. This was a practical and much-needed way to show love and care to his neighbours.
- Jesus’ teaching encourages us to love others by showing them kindness, care and compassion. However, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth all this has to do with sending yourself a Valentine’s card!
Well, Jesus’ teaching calls us to love others as we love ourselves. If we are loving and kind to others, we should be loving and kind to ourselves too. When we show care and kindness to others, but don’t practise self-care and self-love, we are out of balance with what Jesus teaches. Christians are called to love and care for themselves as a starting point from which they can love and care for others.
- The idea of ‘self-love’ and ‘self-care’ might sound a bit cringe-worthy, but think of the alternative.
Show Slide 5.
Plenty of people carry around an inner bully, a critical voice that tells them that they are worthless and don’t matter. It can be all too easy to beat ourselves up and treat ourselves with harshness and cruelty. Self-love and self-care are a great antidote to challenging our inner bully.
- It is not just Jesus who thinks loving and caring for ourselves is important.
Show Slide 6.
A UK mental health charity called the Mental Health Foundation offers eight simple ways to practise self-love to enable us to support our own well-being.
Let’s take a look at their eight tips.
Show Slide 7.
- Catch more Zs. Sleep matters, so aim for a good-quality sleep routine to show yourself some love.
- Prioritize ‘you’ time. Find ways to make time to do the things that you enjoy.
- #Doyourthing. You can love yourself by deciding to follow your own path, honing your own skills, gifts and talents.
- Stop criticizing yourself. Critical self-talk doesn’t encourage an attitude of self-love. You wouldn’t tell a friend that they were worthless, so don’t say it to yourself!
- Talk it out. Show yourself love by finding people and places where you can chat about how you feel.
- Get moving. Love your body and your mind by getting exercise!
- Less of the lattes. Too much caffeine can leave us feeling rough. Show yourself love by making healthy choices about what you eat and drink.
- Digital rethink. Again, too much time online can mean less time connecting with others in real life. Love yourself and give yourself balance by fostering relationships offline as well as online.
Time for reflection
We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Jesus’ words to ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’ encourage us to show kindness to ourselves as well as to others. That can be a tough call, especially when we face our inner bully. Of course, we don’t need to send ourselves a Valentine’s card to love ourselves. Rather, a bit of thought and some action to implement strategies can help us to really benefit from showing love, kindness and compassion to ourselves.
Let’s take some moments of quiet reflection now to consider how we can love ourselves a little bit more, leading us to be even better placed to show love and kindness to others.
Let’s reflect upon three things.
Are you aware of an inner bully who says cruel and untrue things to you? Take a moment to commit to finding kinder and more loving ways to think and talk about yourself. What one compliment can you give yourself today?
Pause to allow time for thought.
How are you doing at the moment in terms of your sleep, eating, exercise and digital habits? Take a moment to consider one change that you’d like to commit to today to help show yourself more self-care.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Finally, self-love includes having people to talk to when times are tough. It can be a real act of self-care to share something that you are worrying about with another person. Take a moment now to name one or two people who you feel are there for you and who you can chat to when things are tough.
Pause to allow time for thought.
We think about Jesus’ teaching on love:
To love God, love others and love ourselves.
Please help us to take practical steps to show ourselves self-care, self-kindness and self-compassion.
Help us today to be more loving to ourselves so that we can then share love and kindness with others.
‘I am amazing’ by Philippa Hanna, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVNKj0fbMiU (4.21 minutes long)
‘Greatest love of all’ by Whitney Houston, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYzlVDlE72w (4.51 minutes long)