Reflection: Ally Lee

by | Sep 21, 2020

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Philippians 2: 1-4

These past few months have been a series of transitions for many of us. Our daily routines have changed. Many routines require more thought and energy than ever before. Who knew that preaching a sermon could take three to four takes with additional work to edit the video? Not to mention learning how to edit the video in the first place. Or that connecting with people we normally see every day would require learning new technologies to be able to see their faces. We are exhausted from learning new ways of being in the world. Even for those of us who are digital natives, the speed of the transition has taken its toll.

As many of you know I work part-time with the Presbytery of San Gabriel as the Presbyter for Administration and the Associate Stated Clerk. My other part-time job is as the Associate Pastor at Knox Presbyterian Church. One of the areas that I oversee at Knox is our children’s program. Over the past few weeks, we have been going through Compassion Camp by Illustrated Ministry. This curriculum written as a virtual VBS teaches basic skills for building compassion and this week’s theme is loving yourself. What this curriculum highlights is that in order to love others well, we must learn to love ourselves. If the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, then we have our work cut out for us to learn how to love well.

When I was younger, this passage from Philippians 2 was taught in such a way that I thought caring for myself was an act of conceit. Being humble required putting aside your own needs. The exhortation was to serve as Christ served and that required humiliation. However, what I think those teachers missed in their exegesis was that there is a distinction between conceit and self-care. An even great distinction between tending to your needs and selfish ambition. I wonder how often we have tangled up those ideas and at who’s expense? If we are only able to love others as well as we love ourselves, then how well are we caring for our neighbors?

My question for us this week is how are you learning to love yourself? In this season of transition and new learnings, how do you show yourself kindness? I encourage you to take some time this week to reflect on these questions. Then, take some more time to find a practice or an activity that will nourish your soul or give you respite.

Grace and peace,