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…As You Love Yourself


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
August 2017

"When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be made well?’" John 5:6

Jesus asked the man who had been at the pool at Bethzatha for 38 years, “Do you want to be made well?” Sure! Don’t we all? Yet for so many of us, the thought of getting up, taking our mat, and walking — especially out of an unhealthy relationship, habit, or even addiction — is scary. There are so many unknowns. Where do I start? Will anyone walk with me? What if I fail?

I remained stuck in an unhealthy relationship for 25 years, unable to recognize my own paralysis. Pondering what finally changed, I realized that it wasn’t until I began to believe in myself and actually love myself that I was able to take the steps to leave.

How many of us struggle with God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself? As leaders we often take pride in being compassionate to others. But we can’t have true compassion for others unless we have compassion for ourselves. That means treating yourself with kindness, not harsh words of self-judgement.

Educational psychology professor Dr. Kristin Neff writes that self-compassion appears to foster resilience by moderating our reactions to negative events. Positive emotions are generated by embracing our negative ones. That is why naming our suffering can be the first step to being open to healing. Neff has even found that self-compassion motivates health-related behaviors such as sticking to a diet, quitting smoking, or starting a fitness routine.

Do you want to be well? It begins with loving yourself as God loves you. This simple self-compassion practice can help: Sit quietly. Give thanks for your body, mind, and spirit. Take 5 deep breaths. Name that with which you are struggling/suffering. Place your hands crossed over your heart and feel the warmth radiating from within. Rest in the embrace, knowing that you are a beloved child of God.

Tammy Devine's monthly reflection invites you to consider how your faith and health are intertwined. She shares her personal journey to help support you in new ways as you strive to live well in Christ — for the sake of ministry in God's world. ELCA organizations, feel free to print or link to Tammy’s reflections in your publications.

Since joining Portico in 2004, Tammy has provided whole-person health promotion, education, and inspiration to ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees. Contact Tammy Devine at

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