“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become”
St. Clare of Assisi
Self-help teachers have been floating the clichés that we need to ‘love ourselves first’ and ‘take care of ourselves first’ before we can love or help others. This easy wisdom is just too easy. And perhaps it is more a symptom of our tendency to narcissism rather than a guide to furthering compassionate action.
St. Clare and St. Francis might guide us to the mirror for a closer yet wider second look. In so doing, we could possibly discover that Self-help and helping-the-Other are inseparable.
The false self would like for us to follow trendy wisdom of taking care of ourselves first. It seems to make so much sense. But the false self is never really interested in extending compassion to anybody other than number one.
It shuns a deep look into the mirror because it will lead us to the discovery that we are one with our true self, with everyone else, with God and all of creation. The false self begins to dissolve when we take that risk of accepting and embracing our absolute vulnerability and inseparable unity.
You are totally loved and totally accepted just the way you are. So am I and so is everyone else. Two great commandments are retold in the gospels of Matthew and Mark which record Jesus as telling us to love God, neighbor, and self equally with our whole hearts, souls and minds.
Likewise, the beautiful song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” gives us a simple directive to walk with each other in perfect harmony. The roadmap to compassionate action is clear. Take the risk. Look in the mirror. Then, let it begin with me.