JESUS LOVES ME: ART ENCOURAGING SELF LOVE
Ironically, sometimes the most difficult person to love is ourselves. Our society is very goal-driven, which has made leaps and bounds of progress in many areas. However, when we begin defining ourselves by a checkbox rather than by our eternal worth, it is easy to lose sight of our true purpose as children of God. It’s difficult to love others when we do not reserve any love for ourselves.
From bible stories to pictures of healing and comfort, our LDS artists masterfully illustrate the principles behind individual worth and self-love.
Self Love Art by Annie Henrie Nader
Annie has spent a fair amount of time in Europe studying the old masters and developing her style. As a result, unique textures characterize Annie’s art style. We love the emotion and insight she brings out in each of her religious paintings.
Likewise, Jesus Christ also supplies comfort, understanding, and healing in ways intimately unique to us. What has helped you feel the comfort of the Savior? These reminders of your worth can help boost your self-love.
These two paintings depict Jesus Christ comforting two different women. They illustrate that the Savior understands each of us as individuals. He understands our unique circumstances and even the pains and worries we keep hidden.
Forget Me Not by Annie Henrie Nader
Most often, God answers our prayers through other people. We can also become the answer to someone’s prayer as we pay attention to the individuals around us. We love this painting because it illustrates that our comforting angels may be nearer than we think. Even when we struggle to experience self-love, we can trust in God’s love for us.
Comforting Angel by Annie Henrie Nader
I Will Not Forget Thee by Annie Henrie Nader
Perhaps one of the best ways to show self-love is to do our future selves a favor. Whether that be learning a new skill, investing in a relationship, or developing good habits, there is nothing quite as fulfilling as enjoying the fruits of our efforts. Don’t let your doubts, past experiences, or worries get in the way. What sort of seeds do you want to begin planting?
The Sower by Annie Henrie Nader
Balm of Gilead by Annie Henrie Nader
This next painting carries a similar theme. Jesus is comforting two different individuals and helping them to find forgiveness and peace. The world can be a harsh judge, often leaving little to no room for apologies or personal change.
Jesus’s perspective is much different. While He will never tolerate actions or behaviors that harm ourselves and others, His entire mission on Earth was to make repentance and second chances possible. He does not see us for the mistakes of our past, but the potential of our future.
Self Love Art by Simon Dewey
Simon Dewey’s art is full of detail and brushwork that appear almost effortless. Much of his art pieces depict stories from the bible, such as these next four pieces of self-love artwork.
Abide With Me by Simon Dewey
The title of this painting alludes to several scripture verses and even hymns, For example, it echoes the counsel Paul gave to the saints in Corinth: “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” (1 Corinthians 7:24).
In this painting, Jesus is reaching out toward each of us, inviting us to come and dwell with Him. His expression is soft and kind. It illustrates how Jesus Christ approaches us from where we are at right now, regardless of our circumstances. We can follow His example by approaching ourselves the same way as we seek to grow and improve.
For She Loved Much by Simon Dewey
This beautiful painting illustrates a profound story in the New Testament. A woman entered a crowded room to approach Jesus, regardless of her reputation for sins and misdeeds. Her action of crying and anointing the Savior’s feet was not popular to those present. However, the Savior understood her completely and taught his audience about her deep love. He acknowledged that she had many sins, but that they were all forgiven.
This woman loved deeply. She loved her Savior and she also must have loved herself enough to approach Him despite her weaknesses and mistakes. In return for her honest efforts, the Savior did not rebuke or embarrass her. He simply admired her good qualities and helped her begin to overcome the negative aspects of her life.
He Will Make it More by Simon Dewey
This Bible story teaches another important principle of self-love. Here, Jesus is accepting what small contribution a young boy was able to make to feed an entire crowd of people.
Our efforts or talents may appear small in our eyes, but we need to give ourselves a chance. As with this little boy, we may be surprised at what God can do with our genuine efforts. We may end up helping more people than we ever thought possible.
Faith in Jesus Christ and His healing power can also be an expression of self-love. It means that we trust Jesus enough to trust the deep amount of value He places in our worth. Reaching out to Him will not always be easy. We may face debilitating challenges, like the woman in the New Testament who spent years coping with an issue of blood. And even when she saw Jesus, she had to push through a bustling crowd of people to reach Him.
Like her, our efforts will be rewarded. We can find healing and peace of mind as we continue to exercise our faith
Self Love Art by Eva Koleva Timothy
Eva’s art leaves a lot up to personal interpretation. She never depicts Jesus’ face directly and instead focuses on the scene itself and its symbolism. What insights do you see?
Here we see Jesus carrying a sheep on His shoulders. The title, For the Love of One, suggests that He went through great effort to find and carry this sheep. One way to remember our worth is to remember how much Jesus Christ has sacrificed and done on our behalf. He suffered all of our pains and sins, not because He was required to. But because He chose to. As He said:
“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)
Jesus does not say His life was taken from Him. He says that He was the one to lay it down because He loved us and knew of our eternal worth as God’s children.
This next image shows Jesus with his hands on the head of an individual as He blesses them. The identity of the person that He is blessing is not readily available, meaning that it could represent each of us.
Eva’s artistic choice of contrasting the person’s black robe with the Savior’s white is a beautiful symbol. It displays the light He can bring into our darkness, even when we feel completely enveloped in challenges and confusion. The closer we draw to God, the closer He draws to us, and the easier it becomes to recognize our worth.
Here, Eva illustrates a similar theme. We see the woman in the bible who was presented to Jesus by the Pharisees as “taken in adultery” (John 8:3). Her face is curtained off by her hair and she appears surrounded by the darkness of her shame and humiliation.
In contrast, Christ's half of the picture has a warmer light. His outstretched hand brings that same light toward her. No matter our sin, Jesus Christ wants to help us find healing and hope. As Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s atonement shines.”
Self Love Art by Jay Bryant Ward
Looking toward heaven is a common theme in Jay’s work, as you will see in both of these paintings. It is a reminder of where we can turn to find our self-worth and where we can find help and direction in improving ourselves.
Just like the child in Jay’s painting, we may not know everything ahead of us or be as experienced as we’d like to be, but that does not lessen our worth in any way.
Children also symbolize humility and eagerness to learn and explore, both of which can help us even as adults as we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us. And, like the child we see here, we never have to be alone when we walk with Christ.
“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)
It is easy to get caught up in the world’s opinions about us. Between fashion trends, social media, school grades, career positions, and clashing opinions, it can be hard to know who we truly are.
Another great way to show self-love is to take a moment to be with God. To do just as Jay’s second painting instructs and “Hear Him”. We may be surprised at the beauty, strength, and value that we find when we see ourselves through our Creator’s eyes.
Self Love Art by Jorge Cocco
Jorge Cocco’s abstract art speaks layers of meanings and insights. His focus as an artist is to communicate less to the eyes and more to the subconscious mind. He isn’t so much worried about the historical details as he is about the spiritual significance of his subjects. What insights do you see in these four paintings?
Here we see an illustration of the bible story where a sickly woman physically reaches out to Jesus Christ and is healed. The faded colors of the crowd in contrast to the bright colors of Christ and the woman add interest to the painting. It narrows the focus down to her faith and Christ’s power.
We too can remember that despite the voices and opinions of our crowded and noisy world, acting on our faith can bring life into focus.
The story of Jesus and the woman at the well includes many important insights, one of which is self-worth. In the story, Christ reveals that the woman has had five husbands and is currently with a man to whom she is not married. Her current lifestyle went against the culture of the day and even the commandments, yet Christ treats her with the utmost respect. He does not degrade or belittle and He teaches her about the living water, something that can bring her lasting peace and fulfillment.
Christ’s words can bring us peace in a way that nothing else can. And it’s important to note that Jesus did not condemn her. Rather, he showed her kindness and she later became an instrument in converting others. In other words, our past does not define us. Our identity as loved children of God defines us.
The title “Chosen Daughter” indicates that the woman in this painting is Mary. However, she could represent each of us as we seek to accomplish God’s will in our lives.
The world would have us think that fulfillment and success come from a prestigious career or a trendy clothing line or a bursting bank account. While those things can temporarily make life more enjoyable, true and lasting fulfillment comes from giving ourselves the chance to become the person God knows we can be.
Jesus Beheld Him With Love by Jorge Cocco
This painting tells the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus, asking: “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10: 17).
The man explains that he has kept the commandments his entire life and Jesus is pleased by his faithfulness. However, because Christ’s love is far more than surface level, He also challenges the young man to go a step further; He asks him to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and come follow Him.
While the Savior will always be there to comfort and encourage us, an important part of self-love is self-improvement. God loves us too much to let us become stagnant for too long.
Self Love Art by Lightweave
Lightweave always leaves their personal touch on their artwork by including dramatic and intriguing lighting. In each picture, you can sense the spiritual battle between righteousness and wickedness. Their art communicates peace even amid conflict.
Peculiarity by Kelsy and Jesse Lightweave
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires courage. In many ways, it goes against the grain of society’s standards and expectations. Sometimes, we may even struggle to fit in with fellow believers.
An important part of self-love is coming to accept our unique talents and perspective. Those differences that make us feel alienated may be just the thing that allows us to make a positive difference.
Child of God by Kelsey and Jesse Lightweave
It seems to be human nature to occasionally fall into the rut of thinking it is too late to change, which is damaging to our self-worth. But Christ’s existence is proof of the opposite. He would not have sacrificed Himself if there was no hope for us.
We love this picture for the warm light and raining blossoms. It is a picture of hope, joy, and potential. Recognizing our potential is an important part of self-love.
Sometimes acts of self-love can be as simple as stepping away for a moment. We live in a fast-paced, loud world. Stepping back and enjoying nature or meditating can help ground us back in the present moment. It can make it easier for us to see the blessings that surround us and to sort through our current challenges.
Throughout the New Testament, even Jesus Christ took time to be alone and ponder. We may be able to experience our own “Glorious Moments” by following His example.
Elder Brother by Kelsey and Jesse Lightweave
For some of us, one of the hardest parts of self-love is accepting love and help from others. We love how relaxed the boy in this photo is as Jesus carries him through the field. He has a gentle smile of gratitude and he hardly appears to be a burden at all in Jesus’ arms.
In trying to develop self-love, it can help to remember that we were not meant to go it alone. Even from the beginning, God declared: “that it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18). Just as you carry the burdens of others, it can help to let others have the chance to serve you.
Seek Them Out by Kelsey and Jesse Lightweave
When we fail to practice self-love, it becomes easy to run ourselves off course. We generally have fewer resources to deal with stress or temptation. It cuts our quality of life and can become damaging.
One of the reasons we may have difficulties loving ourselves is because we feel like we’ve already gone too far astray. Maybe we failed to meet our expectations, fulfill our dreams, or stay worthy. This picture shows us that, in reality, we can never stray too far. Christ’s love for the human family is deep and lasting and while He will never force us to safety, He will seek us out and offer it.
We love the way Lightweave captured this moment. We see Jesus observing some of the apostles before calling them to follow Him. It seems to illustrate the way God might observe us. He knows our current circumstances and sees our immense potential. Only the Savior would have seen powerful teachers and leaders in a handful of struggling fishermen.
Part of self-love is not being afraid of our potential. Sometimes that height can seem more intimidating than the weaknesses we have become accustomed to, but as the apostles themselves showed, the climb brings a stunning view of ourselves and life.
Self Love Art by Rose Datoc Dall
Rose’s artwork does a lot of storytelling. She knows how to set the scene and the emotion in her pieces, making each scene relatable. Her art brings insight into the possible experiences and personalities of the individuals she chooses to paint. Enjoy these two paintings of hers, each telling a story of self-love.
Rose described her message behind this painting:
“This image is inspired by the Lord’s compassion for Martha, to whom many women can relate. While typically most depictions focus on Mary’s choice of that good part, the Lord also has compassion for those who, like Martha, are busy, troubled, and perhaps carry heavy burdens. He reminds her of what is most important, and essentially gives her permission to let go of tasks she perceives as important.”
What tasks could you afford to let go of?
Mary faced many struggles throughout her life, especially as the young, expecting mother of the Savior. She faced social ostracization and punishment, the possible rejection of the man that was to become her husband, and likely a fair amount of loneliness.
However, she showed self-love by taking time to visit her aunt, who was facing a similar situation as the chosen mother of John the Baptist. In this painting, we see the peace and excitement Mary must have felt at the idea of her visit. These two women, regardless of their age difference, provided great strength to each other.
Self Love Art by Various LDS Artists
Our collection of comforting art doesn’t end there. We have a variety of LDS artists that have created masterpieces reflecting God’s love and our worth as His children. Each of these last four images has a special message. What insights do you see?
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