Lie #8 : I Need To Learn To Love Myself
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've heard this or read this in a culture that is obsessed with feeling better about themselves. It's the world's most popular answer to low self-esteem and one that Satan uses to trap us.....and we grasp it ~ hook, line and sinker.
One of the examples given by the author is a catalog that offers a "Magical Nightshirt" with this message printed backwards, so that the owner can read it to herself by looking in the mirror:
"I am a precious, wondrous, special, unique, giving, rare, valuable, whole, sacred, total, complete, entitled, worthy, and deserving person."It is "meant to remind you just how precious and unique you are."
The Truth is that we are created in the image of God and He loves us ~ we ARE precious to Him. As is the case with most lies, lie #8 isn't the polar opposite of the Truth, but a distortion of the Truth.
When I read that quote, it honestly gives me the heebie-jeebies. Do you notice that most of those qualities listed are qualities of our Creator ~ and and self-worship is taking the Glory that belongs to Him and placing it on ourselves......the ones that He gave His life to save because of our sinfulness. I'm not saying that we are not all precious in His sight, that we are not special or created uniquely ~ because we are. I'm saying, "Praise be to GOD, not ourselves".
The problem is not that we don't love ourselves. The problem is that we DO......and very much so. Jesus tells us to "Love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and in Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands to "love their wives as they love their own bodies". We naturally and automatically put ourselves first. The author gives this example:
"If I get a toothache, I immediately look for a way to identify the problem and get rid of it. If I didn't 'love myself', I would ignore the pain. But when someone else has a toothache, it is easy to be indifferent to his need - that's his problem. We naturally love ourselves; we do not naturally love others."The world's prescription of self-love doesn't lead to relief from the bondage of low self-esteem. Focus and worship of self leads to even more bondage. We are living life continually focused on ourselves, constantly conscious of how people, things and circumstances are affecting us, deeply sensitive to our feelings, we find ourselves easily hurt and completely trapped in the misery of "low self-esteem".
I hope I'm not coming across as holier-than-thou.........because I've been there. Really, I have ~ and didn't realize what I was doing to myself. My self-absorption could have caused me to be offended and defensive of this Truth, but thankfully many lies that have been exposed to me were exposed when my heart was open and ready to see things for what they were.
The cure for low self-esteem isn't loving and adoring yourself. It is in receiving God's incredible love for us and to accept His design and purpose for our lives. It is in doing what Jesus has called us to do.....loving our neighbors as ourselves. He says that in losing our lives e find our lives. Give others the same attention and care we naturally give ourselves. In learning to deny ourselves, we can then do what does not come naturally....to truly love God and others. Once you have truly received and accepted His love, you will find you don't have to compare yourself to others.....instead of focusing on "self", you will become channels of His love to those who desperately need it.
That's what we're here for. We are His hands and feet.....we are to love and serve others as His vessels. When we embrace that Truth, we discover that letting go of self and letting Him be the one to look out for us is a pretty good deal. (Disclaimer: this is not to be taken to mean that we should allow ourselves to be abused and mistreated....but that every little thing in life is not all about us and there is a much bigger picture if you take the time to look around and see it.)
Do I still sometimes find myself trudging through the consequences of listening to this lie? Yes. But now I know the Truth ~ it really is more blessed to give than to receive......and more joyful life exists when my focus is not on me. The good news about opening your heart to the Truth and accepting it, is that it allows the Holy Spirit to call you on it when you stumble and fall into it again. He is good and faithful to pick you up, pull you out, dust you off, and get you on your way again. : )
Lie # 9: I Can't Help The Way I Am.....
A good list of examples is given in the book. Every single one excuse listed is one I've heard someone say at one time another, whether it be a family member, friend or acquaintance. Just so you know that I'm not pointing fingers, I'll italicize the ones I most often find myself thinking (or even saying)....
- "Our house is so tiny, everything gets on my nerves"
- "My job is so stressful, I can't help being irritable with my kids when I get home." (totally applicable for those who also work from home)
- "It's that time of month."
- "My hormones are going crazy."
- "I'm so exhausted, I just can't function."
- "My family never dealt with problems; we just stuffed everything inside and pretended like nothing was wrong. To this day, I can't really confront issues."
- "My parents never affirmed me, and I've never been able to feel loved."
- "My mother and her mother were both manic-depressive.....I guess it just runs in my family."
- "My mother was never a real mother to me - I've never had a model to show me how to raise my kids."
- "I had an abusive childhood; I've never been able to trust people."
- My ex-husband constantly put me down; he destroyed my self- esteem."
I mentioned in my first post on this book that I had read some criticisms of it, a few of which were pertaining to lies #8 & 9. Ladies were offended, thinking that the author was making light of some of these very serious situations and I just don't take it that way. Throughout the book, she points out that Satan is clever in using a fair amount of truth and twisting it to make his lies so appealing.
Some of these situations (and many more not listed that could have been) would definitely impact and shape who we are. However, we are not simply victims of our circumstances, and these statements are used by the Enemy to make us just that ~ enslaving us to the bondage of being helpless, only able to react to wounds inflicted on us by others with no power to overcome.
My house is small and I am a bit claustrophobic - does that give me an excuse to let everything get on my nerves? I've found that a small house is easier to clean, and when jobs are not guaranteed ~ a smaller house payment is a blessing. We have a roof over our heads when many don't. How dare I be so ungrateful. I've found that learning to see the blessings every day nips a complaining, easily agitated demeanor in the bud.
I often find it stressful trying to juggle so many things and working from home can be very stressful at times. That gives me no right to take my stress out on my children (or husband).
If I'm so exhausted that I just can't function, perhaps I need to rethink my priorities, or train my children better ~ or let them help out around the house more and not be so inclined to do everything myself. Relinquishing perfectionism is very freeing. : )
For the more difficult, deeply rooted issues that we use as our excuses: We are not destined to be controlled by whoever or whatever has impacted our lives. Difficult circumstance, scars and wounds from the past obviously affect us and shape us. I do think when seeking to overcome bondage it is helpful to look back and find the roots of behaviors that we desire to destroy. There can be healing in discovering why we do the things we do. However, at some point, we all have to realize that we have a choice. Dig up those roots, deal with them......and move on.
"We can be changed by the power of God's Spirit. Once we know and embrace the Truth, we can break free from the chains of our past, our circumstances, and even deeply ingrained habit patterns." ~ Nancy deMossI recently won a give-away and received a book entitled "Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs by Warren Baldwin at Family Fountain. I haven't had time to read the entire book yet, but it flipping through it I found an excerpt that applies to this very lie. I've written before that I believe there is nothing like the Word of God when combating Satan's lies, and the Bible tells us "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."~ Proverbs 9:17
"We can't control what other people have dumped into our lives, but we can give up a victim mentality and cease blaming others. We can 'guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life'. We can take responsibility for our actions and seek the healing that Christ offers. We can experience that healing, with God's presence in our hearts." ~ Warren BaldwinIt really is that simple. It's all about a choice. One choice leads to forgiveness, healing and victory while the other leads to a lifetime of bondage.
Which one do you choose?
My weekly verses for Mustard Seed Planting:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." ~ Phillipians 2:3-11