The CDC came out with this stunning report last year: 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 August 2020, The JAMA Network reported the percentage of Americans suffering with depression symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic spiked to 28%, up from 9% in 2019.
Here’s some good news among that bad news: Suicidal ideation and depression are not life sentences . . . if we take appropriate steps toward healing.
One of the foundational steps toward healing? Nurturing the relationship with have with ourselves. Matthew 22:36-39 says, “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.” (NIV)
The word “as” used in that passage 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 become our own best friend.
Becoming your own best friend doesn’t mean becoming a self-centered narcissist. It means learning how to care for yourself kindly and biblically.
With that in mind, let’s unpack four behaviors that help us become our own best friend instead of our own worst critic:
1. 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 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.
2. Understand self-care vs. self-centeredness
In Acts 20 the apostle Paul was saying a final farewell to a group of Ephesian leaders. 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.” (NIV)
The phrase “keep watch” carries the following ideas: “to attend to, to pay attention to, to devote thought and effort to,” Paul 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.” (NIV) 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.
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 in a desert? They’re uncountable. Psalm 139 reveals the same God who created those beautiful lakes and their beaches thinks about us all the time!
So becoming your own best friend means embracing God’s opinion of you, and His opinion is you’re worth loving, you’re the apple of His eye, and you’re never outside of His thoughts.
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. Paying attention to our thoughts and emotions (not being ruled by them) and integrating them with truth helps us become our own best friend.
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!