I confessed on Instagram a while back that I struggle with self-hatred. Not the physically damaging sort, although I mourn for those precious souls that harm themselves; but the sort of thing that I think many many women struggle with and are afraid to admit. The self-hatred that makes us feel not enough, the kind that leaves you disappointed in yourself. If that is you, grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat.
I struggle with not liking myself. Whether it is a superficial jab at my body or a much deeper jab at my own character, I often find myself being disappointed. Disappointed in myself. Disappointed with life. With adulthood. With parenthood. There came a point a couple weeks ago where I tearfully admitted this to my husband. And once the words were out of my mouth, I honestly had no idea what to do with them. How does one journey to loving themselves?
I knew that I had a couple of books by Holley Gerth — a licensed counselor, life coach, and author known for her encouraging and uplifting books. But one particular book stood out as one that might help in this area. Its called God’s Heart For You. Its a little book that has devotions with thought-provoking questions about what God thinks of you. So I decided I would start the book. The odd thing was that I didn’t want to. Why I would rather feel self-hatred than know my worth and value in the Lord and how he wants me to see myself? I don’t know.
So I have been very sloooowly working through this book. Hesitation and fear is what has mostly kept me from pursuing what these pages have to speak to my heart.
One morning last week I sat reading one of the devotions, and one of the questions stuck out in my mind. Holley shared that one time the Lord asked her to keep a journal where she was not allowed to write a single negative thing about herself. She was only to share the good and leave out the mistakes. One day, she felt compelled to write out a negative entry. And the Lord told her to tear it out and spoke to her heart:
Daughter, do you know why I wanted you to keep a “good things” journal? It’s because that’s what My journal about you is like. If you were to read the story of your life, that’s what you would read. Not mistakes or failures, but the times you were a blessing, the ways you please Me, the love you show others. The good things I think about you.
So one of her questions, one that challenged me, was what would God’s journal say about you? And the sad thing was, I was unsure what to write. And then I wondered why. As I began to think about self-hatred and what God thinks about me, I began to feel confused. I didn’t know where my journey to self-hatred began. And in the next instant, I realized something painful that could be part of the growth of this ugly self-hatred plant that is sprouting everywhere in our society.
Have you ever said, “I look terrible in that picture!” or “I hate all my clothes right now because I feel so fat!” If you haven’t said those two things, which I have said many times, I’m sure you’ve said something self-degrading at some point in your life. Now, let me ask you, have you ever said that in the presence of someone younger than you? A child? Your child? A friend? Have you ever heard another woman say something like that?
Our society is teaching us, we are teaching each other, to hate ourselves. Friend, what message do you think you’re sending the women, or someday-women, around you when you pick at yourself? I teach my daughter every day by my actions. Whether I like it or not, she sees how I respond to things and that is teaching her about the world, life, and herself. And if I am constantly saying negative things about myself, I am teaching her to have a distorted view of herself and her body. I am not modeling to her the value that every single one of us has in the Lord.
One thing I have felt both irritated and passionate about lately is how much the Christian culture supports this negative view of self. We aren’t allowed to be proud of our accomplishments, think we are pretty, value characteristics in ourselves or anything that gives us an elevated view of self. We are taught to be humble and self-sacrificing and giving and not-taking. And while I believe wholeheartedly that these things are all very good, they all have a time and place and they are not meant to steal our value. Friend, I am looking you in the eye and touching your hand right now so hear what I am about to say, you are the crown of God Almighty’s creation. His heart hurts when you degrade what he has declared as good. God’s very image is in you. He sent His only Son to die for you. Jesus left heaven and took on the devil, hell, death, and sin for you. His GLORY is IN YOU. And he doesn’t look at us as conceited or haughty when we acknowledge that glory.
When I read Psalm 30 as part of the devotional, verses 11 and 12 spoke to my heart about the glory that is within us that the Lord wants to see shine! Let these words wash over you this morning, dear sweet valued and loved friend:
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! -Ps. 30:11-12