Lesson 18: Overcoming Self Hatred and Self Rejection
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
In the previous lesson, Accepted in the Beloved, we explored the emotional damage that rejection by others can cause and the effective remedy of faith in our Father's perfect love and acceptance. Not knowing our true security in God, when others rejected us, the power of that pain may have carried us into rejecting ourselves.
Unless we truly believe in our heart of hearts that it is a great, good thing to be who we are just as we are, we have been robbed of a major part of our glorious inheritance in Christ. Did you know that Jesus actually expects us to love and accept ourselves - just as He does? Why else would He take proper love of self as a standard for loving others?
And he said to him, ''You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'' Matthew 22:37-39
These words of Jesus carry a curious fulfillment. We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But what if we don't love ourselves? Not loving ourselves will limit and set obstacles to truly loving others. It happens in this way: If I am angry with myself, it will spill out onto others as frustration with them. If I haven't learned to receive mercy for myself, I will become judgmental of others. If I cannot entrust my life to God, I will tend to become fearful for and controlling of the ones I love. If I am critical towards myself, I will tend to be critical of others.
This cycle goes on and on because the sad truth is that even though we try to manage it, make up for it or cover it up, we can only love others as we love ourselves. So, let's learn to give grace to ourselves by overcoming self-hatred and self-rejection in all its forms. Then we will at last be able to rightly love ourselves in Christ and become grace givers to others!
A Worthwhile Life Lesson
Worthwhile life lessons don't come easily. For many of us the ultimate challenge of the truly converted Christian life is learning to love the sinner and hate the sin. Would you believe that to help us God has assigned a problem-prone sinner to each one of us?
By 'sneaky' design the Lord has placed in all our lives someone for us to get to know intimately, someone whose weaknesses, failings and stupidities cause us no end of trouble. Yet, we are fully expected to learn how to love that sinner unconditionally, while still holding a perfect hatred for all the sins. Look no further, that sinner is you!
You the sinner is joined at the hip to you the New Creation - oh my God! It's time to come to conversion about the gospel applied to ourselves. To see how much work may be needed, take this test to determine how well you give grace to yourself. Can you apply 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (the 'love chapter') to yourself?[i]
___ Are you harder on yourself than on others? Do you berate yourself?
___ Get angry with yourself easily? Depression counts as self-anger!
___ Are there things about yourself that you dislike and can't accept?
___ Are there things in your past that you just can't forgive yourself for?
___ How do you talk to yourself when you have done something stupid?
If you answered yes to any of the above, why would you think treating yourself this way is normal? It may be common like a cold but it is not a healthy normal.
Accepting the 'Unacceptable'
There are many things about us that God is at peace with but which we still fear and hate. In fact He seems to be in no hurry to make change come in these areas. Not being reconciled to God about these things can keep us striving against ourselves. If we want lasting victories at overcoming self-hatred and self-rejection, we will have to fight to accept ourselves as God does and for the same reasons.
Complete self-acceptance is the grace-filled starting point for entering into God's good plans for our life. Provided that we have repented where necessary, He is always the One who completely accepts us just as we are and is willing to lead us into new life. We are the holdouts who cannot accept our lives as they are and resist living on His terms.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Make sure you can accept all nine of these things about yourself without reservation. God already does! Become fully reconciled to the God who is already reconciled to you.
1) Past Hurtful Events: We need to see that the Father grieved over pain and injustice coming into our lives, but God is a realist. He has had to accept that all manner of pain had to be allowed because free will is allowed. So God grieves, but He is also ready, willing and able to lead anyone into a life in which evil is overturned and made to work for good. Such living begins on the other side of acceptance. At the very least accept that it happened and be willing to go on with God. Even better, vigorously thank God by faith for all you have been through.
2) Failures, Wrong choices: No one wants to fail and make wrong choices, but we all do. God allows us to experience failure in order for us to learn from our mistakes things we evidently could not learn by the truths He has shown us. He will never reproach us; instead He will help us gain and grow.[ii] The only one who really fails is the one who doesn't keep trying, the one who doesn't persevere.[iii] Don't live with a fear of failure: Repent, receive grace, push delete and get going again!
3) Weaknesses/Foolishness: Because we receive so much affirmation from others over our strengths, we often tend to concentrate our efforts there and build a sense of self-worth around things we do well. Let your perspective shift on this one. Our strengths are God's gifts to us; trusting Him with our weaknesses is our gift to Him. For most of us it wasn't our strengths that brought us to Christ, but our weaknesses.
Our weaknesses grow our prayer life, increase humility in us and compassion for others, and remind us to depend upon God for his help. His strength and grace are perfected in us through the very weaknesses we despise.[iv]Don't try to be weak, but when you see your weaknesses, choose to look upon them as 'tutors' and 'spiritual guides' leading you closer to Christ.[v]
4) Lack of Knowledge: We often seek knowledge out of a misguided desire to cover ourselves by being right. But it is not knowledge that covers us, it is Jesus' Blood and God's love. It is not knowledge as information that saves us, it is knowing God in trust and intimacy. The humble truth is that we are hugely ignorant of both the world of information and the vast Infinity that is God. Let pride take the hit: Admit your boundless ignorance as a finite, fallen creature, then acknowledge that you know One who will never fault you for it, but will graciously share His wisdom with you.[vi]
5) Family Heritage: It's too late. God made the call and didn't consult you. Take it on faith that God chose your heritage for reasons of the blessings - not the curses - that are in your generations and the divine purposes that will fulfill your life.[vii]
6) Present Limitations: At times we probably have all hated our limits, whether of age, intelligence, appearance or abilities. God will likely grow us beyond many present limitations as we 'wait upon Him' in faith, but in the meantime rest with peace and acceptance, trusting His unlimited abilities.[viii]
7) Personality and Patterns: This is tricky because if you are reading this book you may want some of your personality and patterns changed so that the New Creation life can come forth - never buy into an aspect of yourself as being the real you if it doesn't match up with Jesus in you, right? (Good you're learning!) But what we don't want is to hold our breath as we wait for those changes to come. For example, if shyness has been a personality pattern, confess it as the fear of man, then cast the burden of freeing you from it on the Lord and take your peace back. The next time shyness tries to rise up be prepared to fight to not let it stop you and eventually it will lose its grip.
8) Your Fallen Nature: You didn't ask for it. It is not even your fault that you have it. It is in you because of Adam's sin. That's why it's called Adam's nature. God isn't asking you to get rid of it - Paul never got rid of his. In fact God has no plan to remove it down here: It comes off when we die. While we live it serves a good purpose by keeping us humble and dependent upon Him, grateful that we are covered by the Blood and by the love, and less prideful towards others. What He is saying is this: 'Just, don't get dressed up in it and walk around in that old nature!'
9) Physical Appearance: The truth about physical appearance is that anyone who has truly put on Christ (in love and delight) has such inner beauty shining out of them that it never fails to transform even the most ordinary countenance. A heart fully yielded to Christ is the best 'make up' in the world and all it costs in this context is casting down vain concerns about how we look outwardly.[ix]
God looks deep inside and loves us. Let's learn to do it His way.
The Battle Is Over Believing Truth
Son or daughter of Adam, 'Who told you that you were naked?'[x] We, too, may feel exposed and vulnerable in our fallenness, but our God is covering us! Are you listening to what God's Word says or are you listening to your feelings, your understanding, your circumstances, or your past failures? Let God alone be your source of truth and recognize every contrary thought as a lie, even if it comes from you.[xi]
Self-rejection is a double snare, because if I reject myself or my life, I am also rejecting the One who created me and is redeeming me. I may be completely unaware of this dynamic, but if I hate my life, I'm saying in effect that the Lord is doing a sloppy job of leading me towards the joy He has promised. That cannot be!
God knows what He is doing and His ways of leading us are saturated with His wisdom and love. We simply must learn to admit that we don't have the proper perspective and then choose to see the whole of our life through God's eyes. Heaven's perspective on your life is the one you want.[xii]
There is one who hates you and will never cease from faulting you and putting you down. You don't have to listen to him! Neither do you have to listen to yourself. It is a devious form of pride in us that demands perfection from us - never the Lord who knows that we can 'do nothing' apart from the grace He supplies.[xiii] Such striving grew out of a fear of displeasing others and a wrong image of the Father.
Trying to be perfect, or to always be right, is the vain belief that we can cover ourselves with our own good intentions and best efforts - a modern form of works righteousness. This inevitably feeds frustration which can then become very damaging to our physical health by producing the auto-immune diseases.[xiv] Somehow self-rejection sends a message to our immune system that we are the enemy it needs to attack.
Beware also of how self-rejection is held in place by self-pity. Self-pity only wants to wallow in what has been wrong; it never wants to climb out of the morass of the past. It has been called the 'super-glue of hell.'[xv] Why waste time on those lies? Being saved by God through Christ means that we are of all people not to be pitied; we have a God who saves, delivers, prospers, heals and provides - all according to our real needs being watched over by His love and wisdom for us.
Are you prepared to recover your life from all past agreements with the enemy's invisible kingdom? You have to be willing to fight to be free, but your God will train you for the battle![xvi] Live according to your future not your past.[xvii]
I am not what I was. I am not what I will be.
I am being changed from glory to glory
And God is loving me full throttle all along the way!
God is not going to quit working with you until you are as full of joy over your life with Him as He is.[xviii]
The Way to Freedom
The difficult thing to recognize about self-rejection is that you are always the person God wants you to be and that you - in your right mind - would want to be, if only you had His perspective. Don't let your pain, problems and sins tell you otherwise!
1) Recognize every thought or feeling of self-rejection, self-frustration, or self-condemnation as coming from the enemy - not God and not the true you.
2) Take full responsibility for agreeing with it: Repent, renounce and carry it captive to Christ until you see something in Him that restores your confidence that God's mercy, love, good plans and the promise of Romans 8:28 are all for you!
3) Turn to the Father and release gratitude to Him that He loves and accepts you even when you don't. Then cast that devil out!
It truly is a great, good thing to be You--the one God has chosen to love!
Because of my Father's perfect love for me, His never-ending mercy for me, the future and hope He has for me, and His commitment to bring good out of everything that has ever happened or will ever happen to me, it really is a great, good thing to be me! I therefore choose to fully forgive myself and accept myself - just as He does. And I will fight to take my life back from all unloving attitudes against myself. I may have had a bad beginning, but I am going to have a great never-ending!
Take It to Heart!
Don't just give these truths a 'head bob'! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see The Head to Heart Guide for Love Thyself and 'work out' with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Or Keep Reading
[i] Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
[ii] Romans 8:1
[iii] Revelation 3:10
[iv] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
[v] Galatians 3:24
[vi] James 1:5
[vii] Acts 17:26
[viii] Isaiah 40:31
[ix] 1 Peter 3:3
[x] Genesis 3:11
[xi] Romans 3:4
[xii] Psalm 139:14
[xiii] John 15:5
[xv] Teaching and insights about self-pity as the 'super-glue from hell that binds us to our past' and the relationship of self-rejection to the auto-immune disorders from Be In Health® teaching and materials, Dr. Henry W. Wright, Thomaston, Georgia, seminar notes, October 2000.
[xvi] Psalm 18:34
[xviii] John 15:11, 16:24