The idolatry of self-hatred

I find that regardless of how loudly and passionately we sometimes speak about the unconditional love of God, we routinely beat ourselves up. One minute we profess a belief that God does not condemn us for our sins, and the next minute we lose ourselves in a litany of self-flagellating thoughts, emotions, and mental fictions over our mistakes, failure, and sin. Whether it is a big blunder or a minor faux pas, we tend to condemn ourselves for just about anything. I even condemn myself for my inability to stop condemning myself.

There is nothing wrong with a healthy desire to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity. In fact, much of the pain we unconsciously, mindlessly, and repeatedly bring to ourselves and others can (in some circumstances, but not all) be unlearned.

A dog can certainly learn new tricks, but what a dog cannot do is change the fact that he is a dog.

The analogy is imperfect, but what I hope to convey is that no amount of self-improvement will ever change the fact that we are sinners loved by God and that our capacity as frail humans is limited. We cannot make ourselves whole, and the Gospel message always remains that God loves us, not in spite of our sin, but in our sin, weakness, and fragility.

Self-hatred is idolatry. When we are hard on our self we elevate our word above God’s Word. God’s Word spoken over us is always and everywhere a loud, fantastic, joyous, unconditional, and all-knowing YES (with a fist pump thrown in! ~ see 2 Cor 1:19). Why, then, do we not sing a YES over ourselves?

Do you want to love your neighbor as yourself? Consider that this is impossible until you first learn to love your self. 



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