A few years ago, well, more like 8 or 9 really, just after I got married, I was in church with my wife. I can't recall how the sermon got to this point, but it stuck with me and I find myself thinking on it quite often. The father looked over the congregation and spoke slowly and clearly. "There are three Loves that you must obey in life. First and foremost, the key to life in this world: Love yourself above all others. Even God."
Yes. That was said. My immediate thought at the time was that was kind of conceited. But as he stated his next two points it became clear. "Secondly, Love God. And finally love your family." He went on to explain that without finding love for yourself, you cannot truly come to love God or others. If you're not happy with yourself and the way you live your life, then you can not possibly come to terms with God's love for you, or in turn truly love your family or others.
At the time, I was (and still am) madly in love with my wife. We had been married a year or so at that point. I thought I understood my love for my wife. I knew that we still had a lot to learn about each other and our relationship. But what that father said on that day set my mind racing.
What if I dig too deep and discover that I am not the person I thought I was. I discover that I hate some things that I've done. Start to pick at old and healed regrets, causing them to fester and infect what I thought to be my happiness. What if I have to leave my wife to find myself again. Wait. What?
Ladies and gentlemen: It's not a myth. Men actually do have to go and "Find Themselves".
Gladly I wasn't the man that had to find himself. I knew that day I had love for my self. Love for God and definitely love for my wife. Ultimately, the point of the sermon was that to truly eliminate the "What Ifs" in your life, you have to learn to love yourself. Most importantly you don't need a particular religious view to follow that one simple rule in life and it's not to say that you can't find love and happiness without it. I just think it would be a helluva lot easier if you did.
I can state this as fact: I loved my wife before I found love and acceptance for myself. I was in a deep, dark place when she lit up my life. As she got to know me, the me I didn't try to hide, I came to accept again, who I was. I had walked a fair distance away from who I truly was back then. I did it the hard way, but I'm sure glad I did.
If I knew then, what I knew now? I wouldn't be here now would I?