So pretty hefty topic, yeah?
Well. I think more of us deal with it then we let on. And if we’re not going to talk about the hard stuff… the stuff that’s in our basements and crammed in our closets… how are we ever going to move forward? Step into new realms of freedom and life that God has for us?
So yes. This is why I’m talking about self-hatred. Because it’s real and because I believe there’s real freedom from it.
Freedom that I’m still struggling to find.
Self-hatred is very real to me. Still. Now. And it’s real to a lot of people.
It’s something that has wormed its way into the matter and life of many, myself included, and leaves a twisted, broken mess. A broken mess that maybe doesn’t look so broken on the outside, but on the inside?…
There are many forms of self-hatred – ranging from negative thoughts and remarks about yourself to actual physical self-harm such as cutting etc.
We often see those physical manifestations of self-hatred as being the real, extreme ones that we need to deal with.
But I think equally important is to address the destructive thoughts and words we speak over ourselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This post isn’t so that we all start loving ourselves to the point that we become consumed and prideful. It’s not just to have this warm-fuzzy feeling inside so we all feel better and can live a good life. It’s not just to give you a pat on the back and say it’s not neccessary to be responsible with your life and body.
Not at all.
No, it’s to reclaim our identity and the people that God has made us to be. The devil is trying to steal life -emotionally and literally – through the spirit of self-hatred and God isn’t really about that.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE and LIFE to the FULL.” John 10:10
Why does God want us to have LIFE?
Because this is how He designed us from the very beginning. And this is what He wants to restore to us. To make the broken whole. To release captives from prison. To bind up the broken hearted. (taken from Is. 61:1-4)
My own story with self-hatred is all too real still.
Now, you probably wouldn’t think that this is something I struggle with on first glance… see. The mask works people.
But the mask doesn’t help.
So, in taking off the mask and being real, here I am. In high school and during the first of my years at Luther, performance and hating who I was were big parts of my life. Driven by striving for a certain image and comparing myself with those around me, I engaged in habits that weren’t healthy or life-giving for my body. I hated how I looked and who I was and I was determined to do something about it. I ran and ran and worked and worked and maybe was sometimes happy… but not really. I was still pretty miserable even if maybe I was reaching my goals for image and fitness.
But what happens when you fall short of acheiving your goal… or when you can’t make it work anymore. What then?
Frustration. Hopelessness. And more self-loathing.
It’s kind of a bitter, painful, cycle that seems to keep playing in and out of my life.
I don’t believe this is how God wants us to live though.
And He’s shown me that over these last few years – that He doesn’t want me to live in death but in life.
He’s brought a realization to me, directly and through other people, that how I view myself and treat myself is not healthy. That He has a better way for me to live.
It’s been a painful process – healing from those frameworks and structures I put in place.
I still struggle with negative thoughts about myself and anxious, freak-out moments about who I am. But learning, slowly learning, about surrendering my thoughts and my mind to the Lord – because those negative, self-hating thoughts are not from him.
Why would He speak death words over me when He is all about life?
So. The opposite of self-hatred and dwelling on those words and thoughts? It’s about taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5).
I think that’s where the Freedom comes in. Letting God purify your mind and dictate what’s junk and what’s Truth. It’s about accepting and receving who we are right now just as Jesus does for us, regardless of whether or not we like this or that feature about ourselves.
It’s about beginning to value yourself how God does.
(Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s totally ok to have fitness goals or other sorts of goals and to work towards them, but it’s all in the spirit of how you do so – are you driven by fear and self-hate towards something that’s not super realistic or are you accepting and receving yourself now and healthily working towards something you can achieve? What’s your motive?)
Something that I’ve realized is that self-hatred leaves no room for the presence of God’s grace to soften and calm and bring rest. Self-hatred says that things are hopeless. That things will never change and there is no chance of “getting better” or “doing better” – whatever those things actually mean.
But God’s voice beckons and brings rest and peace. It says, “give this to me. Let me carry it. Let me carry you.”
So ask the Lord to tear the spirit of self-hatred out of your life. To replace it with the Holy Spirit. With His heart and His life and His words. Now, you might have to do this every day or every other moment… but don’t give up. There is life and hope for you. It’s not up to you to change this. Rather, it’s about surrender and submission to God and letting Him cover you. It’s about having his goals for your life. It’s about life and life to the full.
I’d also encourage you to be real with those around you – be real about the struggles in your life… about how you see yourself. Stand together – for each other – with each other. It’s what it means to be the church.
Vulnerability with God and with others is BEAUTIFUL and it is life.
I pray that we can walk in this freedom.