I read this meme (at least that’s what I think they call it) by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Love the one in you who is sad.
Love the one in you who is scared.
Love the one in you who is angry.
Love the one in you who is lonely.
Love the one in you who hates herself.
Love all the ones who you are,
And then you will know how to love the world.
Now, I understand that Elizabeth Gilbert is probably not a Christian and this piece of writing is also not particularly Christian. But the line that says, “Love the one in you who hates herself,” just struck a chord with me. Dr Michelle Strydom, who is an outspoken Christian, says in her book, “Healing begins with sanctification of the heart,” that self-hate is one of the main causes of disease.
Ephesians 5:28-29, So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church
But is this true all the time? I think that we out ourselves under undue condemnation when we are rejected, or even when we perceive that we have been rejected. Sometimes there are situations that we find ourselves in where we make stupid choices and we wish we had acted differently. Sometimes there are situations that keep presenting themselves and we often repeat this behaviour over and over again instead of going to the Lord and receiving freedom.
Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God loves us before we are saved, while we are full of insecurities and sin and all the stuff that goes along with it. Now, if God can love us while we are unsaved, why can’t we love ourselves when we are saved. And you know what? We don’t always love all the facets of who we are. We like to fool ourselves and others by pretending that we are perfect and there’s nothing in our lives or in our past that is embarrassing, or hurting us, but we can’t fool God. We think we can, but we can’t. Sometimes there is just one little thing, you know like that straw that breaks the camel’s back. One little thing that we think we are never going to be able to overcome, and that little thing is the thing in our lives that is causing all the grief.
Maybe you and your dad never got along and he passed away before you could reconcile. Or there was a man who left you standing at the altar and you still feel that pain. You have put it away in a deep, dark, secret place but it threatens to appear at inappropriate times. You know that your mother didn’t want another baby, but you were born. You might feel guilty because of an accidental circumstance that claimed someone’s life, or you are addicted to cigarettes and you only smoke in secret. I can go on and on. No matter how well we hide things, God knows about them but the devil also knows about them and we know that he is the father of lies and that guilt comes from him. So, now, here we are feeling guilty and basically hating that part of our life. Self-hate is very real and very, very dangerous to your health.
What to do? We have to forgive the people involved and ourselves. That’s the easy answer. That’s the right answer. But what if we can’t find the way to forgiveness right now? Grace. We need to give ourselves grace and lots of it because we definitely aren’t perfect. What Elizabeth Gilbert says is, “love yourself,” love every part of yourself, even the imperfect parts. Give the imperfect parts of our characters more grace because once we do that we aren’t going to feel the guilt and the need to keep them hidden from God anymore. Once things are bathed in God’s light we will be able to approach them differently and start to get rid of the power they wield over us.
Let’s make it our goal to start giving ourselves grace.