We live in a time where depression, anxiety, and suicide are on a rapid rise in the United States.

The CDC came out with this stunning report: In July 2020, 1 in 4 young adults in America ages 18-24, contemplated suicide due to the pandemic. That’s a 300% increase over July 2019. In December 2020 the number of adults reporting depression symptoms spike to 42% That’s a 400% increase over August 2019. We’re talking about north of 80 million adults in the U.S. suffering with depression!

In light of the above, we’re dedicating the blog for the entire month of February to getting and staying healthy mentally and emotionally.

One of the pillars of mental and emotional well-being is the relationship we with have with ourselves. Today’s post unpacks why becoming our own best friend matters, and explores four practical behaviors to get us there.

In Matthew 22:36-39 Jesus was asked: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

As” is the Greek connector word, “os” and it means, “In the same manner as.” The most important command in the Bible is really a 3-parter: It commands us to love God and to love our neighbor, but Jesus also commands us to love ourselves. To be our own best friend. Why would He do that? Because He knows our capacity to love and lead others is directly related to the degree we obey the third part of the greatest commandment

So let me outline four behaviors that help us become our own best friend instead of our own worst critic:

Behavior 1: Use Healthy self-talk

Self-talk is how I talk to myself about myself. No one talks to you about you more than you do—so be kind with the words you say about yourself! Verbal slams you direct against yourself are not funny, and are every bit as damaging as those you might direct at others.  I used to be serial verbal self-abuser until the Holy Spirit in no uncertain terms told me to knock it off. If you treat yourself unkindly with your words, chances are you’ll do the same to your neighbor. And you sow the seeds of anxiety and depression within yourself.

Behavior 2: Practice Self-Care (Not Self-Centeredness)

Jesus in Matthew 22 was not advocating self-centeredness. The Apostle Paul helps us here. In Acts 20 he was saying farewell to a group of Ephesian leaders. He would never see them again, and in this emotional moment he urged them in verse 28 – “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”

“Keep watch” here means “to attend to, to pay attention to, to devote thought and effort to.” Paul even gives us more clarity in Philippians 2:4: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Becoming your own best friend means caring about others while at the same time caring for yourself. It’s not an either/or proposition—it’s both/and.

As an adult, you are responsible to take ownership of your own self-care strategy. No one else can (or should) own that responsibility for you.

Behavior 3: Embrace God’s Opinion of You

Psalm 139 provides a beautiful window into His opinion.

  • Psalm 139:13-14 – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
  • Psalm 139:17-18 – “How precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” How many grains of sand are there on Great Lakes beaches? They’re uncountable. Psalm 139 reveals the same God who created that beautiful lake and its beaches thinks about us all the time!

So . . . becoming your own best friend means accepting that God thinks you’re pretty awesome, and living life out of that awareness. His opinion is you’re worth loving without strings attached, you’re the apple of His eye, and you’re never outside of His thoughts.

Behavior 4: Care for Your Soul

Proverbs 19:8 tells us: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul.”  Our thoughts . . . and the emotions we attach to them, require tender, loving, care. I’ll leave this fourth behavior to our next three blogs, where we’re going to explore in detail ways to care for our mind, will, and emotions.

One last thought:

Your capacity to love your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, your workmates, even your enemies, is directly related to the degree you become your own best friend! So start working on the above behaviors. To assist you, for the entire month of February, we are offering my book Unshakable You, 5 Choices of Emotionally Healthy People at a 50% discount. You can purchase copies here. Upon request, we can provide you with PDF versions of a Small Group Leader guide and Student Workbook (a $29 value) at no extra cost.

Rooting and praying for you to be well,

John

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