God created us "to love & be loved." But because we live in a fallen world, two words appear, "hatred" & "selfishness."
I remember reading a book by Chuck & Nancy Missler entitled "The Way of Agape," and she broke down the truth & myth of loving yourself. I'm going to share a small clip of what she said and then I want to share my thoughts especially when we are "trying" to help abused victims (and what happens when we don't let children know that are loved).
What Nancy said: when we are not having victory in our walk with Christ, the enemy will say: you need to love yourself more so you can love others.
The more I think about what Nancy said, there's a point that needs to be addressed. If you look at what the enemy's specialty is, it's simply serving "self." He is the king of "self-centeredness!"
Continuing on what she said:
The basic problem is not that we don't love (agape) ourselves, we do that naturally. The problem is we don't like (storge) ourselves.
The solution is that we are never to agape self, but instead to agape God and others. We do want to storge self. This will come as we understand that we have been conformed to His image.
I'm sure some questions and/or thoughts are coming up such as the following:
1. So what are the types of love you mentioned above? I will give brief definitions on those two and two additional love's right now:
Storge love - natural, emotional, feeling love
Eros love - natural, sexual love
Phileo love - natural, friendship love
Without God's intervention, those 3 become conditional, self-centered love that desires the good of itself
Agape love - this is God loving through us (1 John 4:12), we can't do this on our own. There are no strings attached, and it's other-centered love.
2. I was abused and I don't feel loved? There's a possibility that whoever was responsible for looking out for you abandoned you and overlooked your abuse. Let me state this: you are not plagued with a demonic spirit. You were never taught the truth about love. Now, you just need an understanding about what love entails. See question #1.
3. So why do I hear from people inside and outside the church shoving down my throat the need for me to love myself? Both groups don't have an understanding of what love really is. Many say it because they don't want to hear problems of others, which really equates to them just being selfish. Now if adults from your childhood always demonized you (verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse) it's only natural for you to feel that way (and that part is not your fault). But is that the truth about you? No. Now you have the chance to do something as an adult (I don't expect you to overcome this overnight), and that's simply learn the truth of who you are in Christ.
4. What happens when a child never knew who their true identity is and they carry that into adulthood?
Many things can happen. They can end up bound with a mental illness, self-mutilate, or possibly commit suicide.
5. How can we prevent this? First, don't condemn by pointing a finger stating "you are in sin!" From there, they are not going to receive the good news. You have to understanding they are hurting and heading down Niagara Falls, so to speak. Only those who are able to swim and be able to scoop them up before they drown should be the ones doing this. Too many ill-equipped people are doing this and we're creating more hurt people.
Another way is to let them know that not only does God love them, but you love them (and please don't just say it cause it sounds good). Listen to them because they're crying for help and love. If God is living in us, we are agents of light and love.
I would recommend that everyone read the book mentioned above along with CS Lewis' The Four Loves.
The Mayne Man