by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
When it comes to being offended, people generally fall into three categories. The easy-going folks, the prickly “everyone is an idiot or out to get me” crew, and the “I suck and I’m to blame for everything” people. It’s the last group I’m addressing today.
If this is you, you are offended at yourself. This problem often starts in childhood. Maybe an overly critical parent or school-yard bullying. Something caused you to develop a shame-based identity. Symptoms include copious, unnecessary apologizing, an over-use of “should” statements (I should have, I shouldn’t have), guilt, low self-esteem, and an inability to forgive yourself for mistakes.
I see this daily. Beautiful people, genuinely kind and talented individuals I think are great, but they hate themselves. I think, “What’s not to like?,” but when I point out their attributes, I am shot down by their inner-critic. Their strong-hold of self-loathing is impenetrable.
News Flash: If you are a self-loather who can give grace and mercy to others but can’t forgive yourself, you are a perfectionist. It’s turned inward instead of outward, but it’s perfectionism just the same. Perfectionism and self-loathing are peas in a pod. Trust me, if you fix one thing you hate about yourself, you will raise the bar in another area. This needs an intervention!
Since we have identified the problem, we can go to the Bible for the solution. We don’t have to look past the letters in red to discover that Jesus does, indeed, tell us to be perfect. In Matthew 5:48 he tells us to “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Uh oh! Does that mean your quests for the unattainable and self-loathing are justified?
Let’s look at the scripture in context. Matthew 5:43-48 falls under the heading of “Teaching about love for enemies.” Right before Jesus said to be perfect, He was talking about loving your enemies. “I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” Then he says to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Restated, the way to be considered perfect by God, and to act like God’s child, is to love your enemy.
For you, Self-Loather, your biggest enemy is you! You wouldn’t dream of saying the things you say to yourself to anyone else. You wouldn’t even think it about them. The harsh, abrasive comments and beliefs are reserved for you alone. You are literally your own worst enemy. The devil wound you up years ago, and now you are doing all of his work for him. It’s time to let yourself off the hook and love your enemy.
I can’t emphasize this enough; You Are Not What You Feel!! If you feel like you are Napoleon it doesn’t mean you’re him, it means you have a problem. Just because you feel like you suck, does not make it true. Jesus lives inside you, and He’s incredible. Therefore, you can’t be anything but awesome, because He’s bigger than you. So get in the mirror, look at yourself, and tell you that you forgive you for being human. Learn to love that enemy in the mirror, and you will become perfect in God’s eyes. Go on, it will make your Father proud!