This is a question I started asking myself a couple of years ago. It seems ridiculous to ask, doesn’t it? After all, if it’s my story, I must be the main character, the protagonist, the leading lady. Practically speaking, however, I lived more like a secondary character most of my life.
To say I’m the leading character felt selfish to me. Yes, it’s my story, but as a Christian woman, isn’t life about making my story about others – my children, my husband, the neighbors, my family, people in need? That sounded right to me. My role was to love others above myself, to elevate their story and make it the best possible version it could be.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved serving, loving my family, giving to others, but after a long stint, I started feeling empty, used up, and exhausted. I didn’t think my story mattered at all. I didn’t think I mattered at all. I thought my value to God was found in making the stories of others more important.
But God has a different opinion. When asked by the Pharisees what was the greatest commandment of all, Jesus answered, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” And I spend a lifetime trying to do this.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves is where a lot of us get it wrong. We love our neighbors, our children, our family, the lost, the church, but we don’t love ourselves. We skip the last part of the command, as yourself . He told us to love others as we love ourselves. That means we can only love those characters in our story when we love ourselves.
And part of loving ourselves is recognizing that we are indeed the main character of our story, and we matter. Our opinions, our likes and dislikes, our dreams, our tastes all matter. God loves us wildly and lavishly. He loves to dream with us, plan with us, give us the desires of our heart. He is intimately present in our stories and He made each of us the main character of our story. As we learn to love ourselves, then we can love the other marvelous characters we get the privilege of knowing.
Being the main character of your story isn’t selfish; it’s loving. Learning to love yourself will profoundly change you, and that love will overflow to others.