Infancy is really the only time in our lives where we can each be loved for just being alive, loved for just being born and here. If all goes well we are beloved for just being us. The psychoanalyst R.D. Laing described a patient he saw who expressed it like this:
Everyone should be able to look back in their memory and be sure he had a mother who loved him, all of him; even his piss and shit. He should be sure his mother loved him just for being himself; not for what he could do. Otherwise he feels he has no right to exist. He feels he should never have been born.
No matter what happens to this person in life, no matter how much he gets hurt, he can always look back to this and feel that he is lovable. He can love himself and he cannot be broken. If he can’t fall back on this, he can be broken.
For this experience of being loved, for just being alive, can, and only too quickly will, change and we become loved rather more for secondary values – how we look or what we can do, or for how we behave.
if this experience of unconditional love didn’t happen as a small baby then there is the hard graft of learning to love your self unconditionally but that is difficult if you are programmed to be loved for what you do, or how you look or behave. This is where God can come in and offer a way for self-love and compassion to develop. Jesus was told that he was the beloved before he began his ministry and how encouraging is that. We can learn to believe and trust that God is love and perhaps start to experience this in the inner world. Karl Barth the great theologian was asked to sum up his life’s work and responded with ‘ Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so!’ It sounds like he too had to work hard to feel valued for himself.