I’ve struggled with self-hatred for many years.
I have a very difficult time giving myself any grace or forgiveness for the mistakes I’ve made and the struggles I’ve had.
I hate my character defects and the way I’ve succumbed to fear and panic; the pain they’ve caused others.
Over a year ago, a good friend of mine suggested I pick up the habit of daily forgiving myself as a practice in moving beyond my self-hatred, so every night at 9 pm an alarm goes off reminding me to do just that.
Even still, it isn’t easy, because I don’t believe I deserve forgiveness or grace; I don’t deserve to be loved.
I suspect a lot of us feel that way to some extent. And it’s difficult to admit that it’s pride and choosing to believe lies that ultimately results in those convictions.
Belief in the Christian God requires accepting that he loves me just the way I am, without exceptions – and the same is true of you.
My refusal to believe that I’m deserving of grace or love is thus rebellion against God – I’m actively disagreeing with him. And who do I think I am to argue with the Creator of everything?
Of course, that often doesn’t stop me, because I all too readily agree with the thoughts that run through my head proclaiming my failures, my heartbreaks, my inadequacies, my flaws.
And I keep forgetting that I have power over those thoughts, and those thoughts are not my own. They come from spiritual forces that seek to destroy me or cause my ineffectiveness, so it’s in my best interest to rebuke them and recognize them for the lies they are – lies that are centered around truths of things I’ve done, but those are the most effective lies of all.
The hardest thing I’ve had to do in my Christian walk is accept in my heart that God really loves me, because I often don’t love myself. It’s relatively easy to accept in my head the idea that I am loved, but it’s a different matter of acquiring that belief in my heart.
It again comes down to what thoughts I choose to empower and what feelings I allow to infect my heart without my conscious objection. Because while I can’t turn feelings on and off like a switch, I can over time mold and command their presence or absence – feelings eventually succumb to the will; we are not their slaves.
And they’re intimately connected with the thoughts we give strength.
Romans 12:1-3 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Renewing our minds by refocusing them on the truths God believes about us is vital, and I don’t do it well. I have to remind myself that he is God, I am not, and the truth of who I am is in what he says about me, not what I or anyone else says. As in all aspects of life, what he says goes. It is my job to submit to him.
And he loves me, deeply. He finds me beautiful, somehow, and pleasing – he made me for a purpose, and he delights in me. Just as I am.
And that is also true for you.
He loves you exactly the way you are, right now. He accepts you exactly the way you are, right now. No caveats; no exceptions.
It is in continuous acts of our will that we accept or reject that love and acceptance, and we do well to remember that we’re presuming to know better than God when we choose to do anything but what he wants us to.
What he says is the truth. And as Christ told us, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
God tells us he loves and accepts us in his word, and it’s in coming to terms with this at first in our heads and allowing it to move down into our hearts in which we find freedom.