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Welcome Hate is wrong, whether it’s expressed towards others, our earth, or even ourselves, and it’s always going to be wrong. So why do I continue to use words of hate toward myself, even as I try to teach and model love to those around me? After all, if I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself (Matt. 19:19; Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8), don’t I need to start by actually loving myself?
Food For Thought A few weeks ago, we had some people at our house to do some construction-type work. As they walked through the house, I was quick to point out more flaws in our home, beyond what they were here to fix. “Did you see that big crack traveling across the wall?” “Did you see the gaps at the ceiling?” “Do you feel the loose floorboards?” To each of these I received a response of, “No, I didn’t even notice.”
Then, as our family prepares for the upcoming holidays, I told my husband, “I feel anxious when your family comes to our home. I keep waiting for them to point out my ugly decorating or tacky gifts.” He replied, “So now you’re just making up insults that aren’t real?”
And the compliments that I don’t accept: “You look nice.”–“Oh, yeah, this shirt makes me look fat.” “Your hair is cute like that.”–“Oh, you mean my lazy, do-nothing messy hair?” “You did a great job on that…”–“Well, I should have done more. It’s never enough.”
Did anyone tell me my house looks terrible? Did anyone say my decorating is ugly or tacky? Did anyone tell me I’m fat or messy-looking? Did anyone accuse me of being lazy or never doing enough? And more importantly, would I ever say these things to others? No, in every instance I am inferring a response that may, but probably won’t, happen. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. Why? Why has self-criticism, self-insulting, and self-hate become such a natural part of my personality?
No, it is not from emotionally overbearing parents or family members. It is not the result of any trauma or abuse. And, psychologically speaking, I don’t know why so many normal, average people deal with these self-destructive behaviors, because it’s not just me. I see this same behavior out of friends, family members, and acquaintances. This is a habit developed over my many years, starting when I was young, as a way to shield and protect my heart and mind from the insults of others.
Growing up, we were poor. I was chubby. I wasn’t very popular and I didn’t feel I had many talents. And kids navigating the tricky waters of adolescence can sometimes be less than kind to peers that fit these descriptions. And during those sensitive years, I found it much simpler to beat others to the punch…put myself down before someone else could do it. It is, and always has been, a defense mechanism. But in my quest for self-help and spiritual growth, I am learning that I don’t need defense mechanisms. If I put my trust and faith in the identity of who God says I am, I can find comfort in the knowledge that insults won’t get me down, either real or imagined.
Here’s the thing with all those inferred insults. They usually never happen. I am falling into the trap of Satan’s lies by believing that I am being judged and criticized by friends and family before it ever happens. And likely never will. But guess what? Even if it does, it doesn’t matter. I can either use the criticism as a teaching point to improve an important area of my life, or I can simply write it off as their opinion, an opinion that matters very little when it comes to the big picture of my spiritual walk. As the popular saying goes, “What God knows about me is more important than what others say about me.” So I need to learn to let the criticisms and insults go, especially if they are only in my head. And more importantly, I need to give myself a little grace and a whole lotta love. After all, I am created in His Image.
Today’s Scriptures and Bible Journaling Pages I chose five verses that I use to help me learn and grow in this area of my spiritual walk. With each verse I have included a simple Bible journaling page as an illustrated reminder. These verses are taken from the ESV Journaling Bible from Crossway Publishers.
In Genesis 1:26, God made man (and therefore, woman) in His own image. In verse 31, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” If I am created in GOD’S IMAGE, if I hate myself or anything connected with myself, it’s like I’m hating God as well. Friends, that is a powerful thought! The last thing I would ever want to do is express hate toward God and His creation. These verses alone have compelled me to work on furiously ridding my mind of these hateful thoughts.
Criticisms and insults are going to come our way in life because, as stated in 1 Samuel 16:7, man looks at outer appearance. With man, and woman, it’s all about image, but fortunately verse 7 also states a wonderful truth: “But the Lord looks on the heart.” If I remove all hate from my heart, God will be pleased, and that’s all I should need.
God is being praised in Psalm 139:14 as the author claims, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” I, too, am fearfully and wonderfully made. And like the psalm, I should be praising God for His magnificent creation, rather than hating my weaknesses and shortcomings. I need to take time to reflect on the talents and abilities God has blessed me with, rather than criticizing the Perfect Creator.
Romans 8:1 states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s it. Period. End of Story. No condemnation, because I am in Christ Jesus. This means I am also unable to condemn myself. Thank You, Jesus!
First Corinthians 6, verse 20 states, “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I cannot be glorifying God at the same time I am hating my body or my mind or any of my abilities. The only way I can glorify God, as the verse commands, is to love and nurture my body and care for it as a temple of the Holy Spirit. This includes showing myself kindness and grace.
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