Index of “Loving Ourselves” Posts
“I hate what I see in the mirror. I hate my past. I hate my present. I hate everything I am. I go to bed every night wishing I would wakeup with some disease and only have a few months to live. Or that I would die on the way to work in a car wreck or have a massive heart attack. That would show them wouldn’t it. Would anyone really care if I was gone? I walk around feeling empty inside and nobody notices. Why can’t anyone see how sad I am? Can’t anyone see how much pain I am in? Can’t anyone see me struggling to stay alive? I hate myself even more for having these thoughts. How weak is that? Why can’t I be a real man and get over it? I ask myself if this is a cruel joke God is playing on me? Is this payback for all the bad I had done in my life? Why am I here? I am so pathetic and such a loser.”
The responses he received were not much better.
“You and me both. I know how you feel. Every day I wake up hoping to die. I’ve been through a lot … in my lifetime. Most of the time, I don’t see what the point of living is. At university, everyone ignores me. No one cares about me. Most of my family hate me. I have no friends…I’m not even my won friend.”
“I know there are people who love me, but it doesn’t make a difference to me. I feel like you. I’m a loser.”
“Bro, I feel so close to you. I hate myself and I hate myself that I hate myself in the same time. I don’t know how to feel or what to feel. Sometime I blame life and gods but then I hate myself that I should just blame myself. I hate myself more than I hate this meanless life. I hate my boring look, my stupid brain, my weak body, and my ugly mouth that always say the wrong things.”
“I go through life pretending I am so happy, but if anyone even cared they’d look deeper. And even though I am female, I totally understand how you feel. They all say life is a rollercoaster, but it feels like it is only going down and down further each day.”
Someone finally posted:
GOD LOVES YOU! Nothing is more important than that.
To which the next responder replied:
“I wish I could believe in that premise, but I’m finding it hard these days. I have failed at everything I’ve ever done and tried. At the same time, I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been a hard-working blue collar guy all of my life. I’ve never broken a law or hurt anyone. Now, at 47, laid off from my job nearly a year, a wife of 19 years who looks at me like a loser. No kids. Little savings. The only thing I truly love are my two dogs who are always faithful.
“I look back and conclude that my life has been pointless. Utterly meaningless. I hate myself so much, that I love my own honesty about it.
“I hate myself so much that I pray for death. I am a 30-year smoker and am happy about it. Lung cancer, colon cancer, a massive coronary all sound good to me. I’ll take any of them. Then I can go down for the long sleep and all of this…would be over. No more worries. No more insomnia or nightmares. Not another morning waking to nothingness. Worthlessness. Pain.
“The only reason I haven’t put a bullet thru my head is because of the last remaining shred of Christianity, that suicide is the ultimate sin from which there is no forgiveness. So, I’m finding it harder to believe that God is here, or cares. I have sinned like all humans on this planet and regret them all. But, if he’s there, he’s forsaken me. I guess I don’t blame him. I would too if I were him.”
Self-loathing and self-hatred: Some of us have it down to a science. Some of us are even convinced we are more spiritual because of our negative feelings toward ourselves. We are sure that any kind of love we have for ourselves would only be selfishness, self-centeredness, arrogance. We are sure that any kind of love we might have for ourselves would mean we weren’t seeing ourselves in the sinful light we are sure we must recognize. I’d like to share a Biblical revelation with you. We are allowed to love ourselves.
Some hearing this will think this is no big deal and wonder why I’m even sharing such depressing stuff. Others are saying they know how these people online feel and want to find out where this stuff came from. They are saying, “Are you sure? Are you sure I’m allowed to love myself? If you knew me like I do, you wouldn’t be saying that.” I’m talking to you. God says you are allowed to love yourself.
Why do Christians Struggle with Self-Loathing?
For those who don’t understand, here’s the problem. Some look at their sins and equate their existence with their sinfulness. They don’t just despise their sins; they despise themselves for their sins. I understand that. With each new sin, no matter how small or great, we receive another reminder of how worthless and unlovable we are.
Some look at their bodies. They see themselves as too thin or too fat, too tall or too short, too plain, too out of proportion, maybe their ears are too big or their chin is too small. They equate their body with themselves and hate themselves a little more every time they look in the mirror. As an overweight guy, I can understand that too.
Some listen to the negative messages they’ve heard from parents, professors, and peers: “You’re never going to amount to anything.” “You’re so pathetic.” “You’re a loser.” “You’re worthless.” “I don’t even know why I had you.” “I don’t even know why they let you in this school.” “I don’t even know why I’m friends with you.” “You’re the worst __________.”
Some want to be perfect and every mistake adds another level of loathing. Each failure reinforces the messages they heard from others and they play those messages over and over again in their heads. I haven’t heard all these, but I’ve heard some things. I understand this.
Some look at how they’ve treated others and the mistakes they’ve made in relationships. Every time they see someone they’ve hurt, they heap punishment on themselves. How could the one they’ve hurt love them; how can they love themselves? I wish this one didn’t ring so true. But I get it.
Then, they “go to church” and see everyone wearing their Sunday smiles, and hate themselves a little more for not being strong and perfect like everyone else. You ought to try being the guy who looks out over the whole audience each week to see what appear to be a whole bunch of people who have it together. It’s a weekly reminder of, “Why on earth am I the guy up here preaching?”
For you, “hate” and “loathe” may be too strong of terms. But how do you talk to yourself? Do you call yourself names? “Idiot,” “Loser,” “Moron.” Do you talk down to yourself? “If you had half a brain, you wouldn’t make mistakes like this.” “You’re such a ______, no wonder nobody likes you.” Do you punish yourself over and over again? “I don’t deserve to have a relationship, I’ll sabotage this one.” “I don’t deserve to be thin, I’m going to eat two extra helpings of ice cream.” “I don’t deserve to be pretty, I’ll go out in my rattiest clothes and refuse to try to look nice.” If you treated someone else the way you treat yourself, would they mistake it for love? Maybe your feelings aren’t as dark as those shared at the beginning of this post, but are you treating yourself the way God wants you to?
I know the struggle with these feelings. I like to say that “hate” and “loathe” are too strong of terms for how I’ve felt about myself. Maybe they are. But I can guarantee you that when I talk to others the way I talk to myself about mistakes, value, life in general, no one would mistake it for love. If I talk to my wife the way I talk to myself, she would not think I was loving her. In fact, she probably would think I hate her. If I talk to my kids the way I talk to myself most of the time, they’d end up in therapy (that may happen anyway). I get it.
I’m even one of those people who likes to tell myself this is how I’m supposed to treat me because it is really spiritual. I should despise me for my sins and imperfections. That means I have a realistic self-image based on the Bible. After all, the Bible rebukes all the sins I’ve committed and says I deserve judgment for what I’ve done. I should not like me. If I like me, that means I like the sins I’ve committed. I don’t do as some, flagellating themselves with whips and hurting themselves physically (based on a misunderstanding of I Corinthias 9:27). But verbally and mentally I’ve been there. You should hear the names I call myself when I simply make a wrong turn. If I said that to someone else, folks would be scandalized.
But then I reread Matthew 22:37-40. The two greatest commandments are, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is very similar, Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’ve read these commands before. I’ve been in classes about them. I’ve preached sermons about them. But on a gut, emotional, core value level, I missed something about these verses. There are two commands about love, but there is a third statement about love within them. It is not a command because it is simply assumed. We are supposed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Do not miss the profound nature of this. Not only are we allowed to love ourselves, we are supposed to love ourselves. Loving ourselves is the foundation for loving others properly. If we despise ourselves, loathe ourselves, and hate ourselves, we will not be able to love others properly or in a healthy way.
The sad reality is too many of us do love others exactly the way we love ourselves, we hate ourselves so we hate others. Maybe “hate” is too strong of a word in this case too. But I think of my statements above about talking to my wife and children. There I said, “if.” I should actually say, “when.” Because I have talked to them these ways. However, as I’ve grown, I’ve discovered that when I talk to others this way, almost without fail I’m not really angry at others. I’m angry at me. The self-loathing simply wells up inside and despite my best efforts to control it seeps forth like too much jello in a mold. My experience is most of my outbursts at others are actually outbursts at myself directed outwardly. It is as if some part of me wants them to feel about me the way I do in that moment and so I’ll sabotage the relationship so they can punish me as I’m sure I deserve. Or these outbursts are attempts to be able to shift my own gaze on to someone else so I can convince myself that they are really the bad one and I can think better of me.
Though I don’t need personal experience to know what Jesus says is true, I have seen my own experience support what Jesus says here. We have to love ourselves properly before we’ll love others properly. When I am most hateful with myself, that is when I’m most hateful with others.
Look again at what Jesus said. “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Not only are we allowed to love ourselves and supposed to love ourselves, these verses demonstrates that God expects us to love ourselves. Jesus didn’t command loving ourselves, He simply assumed we would.
If you’re like me, hearing this for the first time, you are probably raising all kinds of objections. “What? This sounds like narcissism to me. This sounds like selfishness and self-centeredness.” Of course God doesn’t condone narcissism. I’m not saying we are allowed to be obsessed with ourselves. Of course God doesn’t allow selfishness and self-centeredness. I’m not saying God allows us to hate others while we focus on ourselves. However, there is no getting around it. God assumes that we’ll love ourselves. In fact, He has said this not once, but twice. In Ephesians 5:28-29, Paul says husbands should love their wives as they love themselves, nourishing and cherishing them. Again, he didn’t command the love of self. He simply assumed it.
More to Come
Over the next few weeks, I want to delve into this topic. I want to explore it because I need to. I think many readers here need this as well. I want to begin by looking at God’s love for us and then examine I Corinthians 13 and how it applies to loving ourselves. That will help us get a good grasp on what we would actually do if we were to love ourselves. I hope this series lifts you up, draws you closer to God, and helps you find your worth in your relationship with God not your own personal accomplishments.
If you are willing, we’d love to hear from you on here about your own struggles or questions about this issue. That will help me know the direction to take these posts.
For right now, let me simply reiterate the message of the picture at the beginning of this post. Feel free to love yourself today.
By the way, if you would like to check out a sermon I presented on this topic, go here.