“You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31 NLV)

We’ve all heard some version of this verse before, right? It’s probably one of the most well-known, often-quoted verses in the Bible. It seems simple enough: Seven words can’t be all that hard to put into practice, right?

We all know that’s just not the case. Loving others can be incredibly difficult. When they’ve hurt us, wronged us, offended us, mistreated us, or simply ignored us, our natural response isn’t all that loving.

As hard as it is to love other people, it can be even harder for a lot of us to love ourselves. And isn’t that where this verse really starts? We can’t fully love our neighbors the way God asks us to love them—the ones we like and the ones we don’t—if we don’t know what it means to love ourselves.

Before you focus on putting this verse to practice toward your neighbors, start by putting it to practice toward yourself. If you struggle to see your value as God’s son or daughter, pray that He would help you believe it. If you don’t believe that you deserve respect simply because of who you are in Christ, ask Him to remind you of this truth. Pray that God would begin to give you His eyes to see yourself and embrace the way He made you. That’s the beginning of learning to love yourself.

And learning to love yourself is the beginning of learning to love others in the same way.