I hated her. I would put her down everyday, every chance I got. I told her she was ugly, her hair was stupid, her legs were weirdly skinny, her teeth were too big, her face was lopsided. I held nothing back.
I hated her for being shy. She would blush, and never speak, and was helplessly awkward around guys.
I hated her for being weak. She let others decide how they would treat her and what she was worth, and she would rarely stand up for herself. She folded like a lawn chair under peer pressure.
She was me. And I spent many years looking at her in the mirror and despising who she was.
How do I make friends with myself?
So often we get mad at ourselves and don’t let it go.
Accepting who I was and forgiving myself for my shortcomings and failures was a huge and important step in my growth and recovery and especially in my ability to learn to respect and love myself.
As a teen I had learned to berate myself for mistakes and to put myself down over every little imperfection. I could never accept a compliment without minimizing it or putting it back on someone else. But blame? I would welcome it. It helped put more fodder on the self-loathing fire.
So when my pain and loneliness pushed me to the breaking point and I gave in to all sorts of stupid attempts at numbing it, I suddenly had a lot more ammunition to use against myself.
Self-hatred is a real and dangerous weapon that the enemy of our souls uses against us. Heck, he gets us to COOPERATE in shooting ourselves down! He doesn’t even need to lift a finger once we are well trained. He can pretty much go on vacation knowing that we will faithfully maintain the diet of hateful lies aimed at disempowering and destroying us.
He can also use others to start an unhealthy cycle of self-loathing.
If we have been mistreated by others over a long period of time - either by a partner or a friend - we internalize the experiences and we often blame ourselves for the pain. We believe we must have done something to bring it on.
But in order to love ourselves and accept ourselves we need to distance ourselves from the mistreatment or abuse. See it as separate from us. We are more than the experience that was done to us. In fact that was never meant to be ours. It was the overflow of someone else's disease, but we took it upon ourselves and adopted that ugliness. We thought it represented and defined us. We believed it spoke to our worth - or lack thereof. We were ashamed of it, as if we had invited it into our lives or created it. And so we end up hating ourselves as much as we hate it. And the enemy of our souls has no more work to do. We take it from there.
So how can I get past the habit of beating myself up over who I am, what I do, and what has been done to me?
This is where grace and love come in.
I call myself a Christian because I have found in Christ the most beautiful example of both of these. I long to understand more of who he was and is and how I can live in that same power, that same space, surrounded by grace and love. The power that I receive from knowing that I am loved NO MATTER WHAT is truly life-changing. I become able to laugh at my mistakes, bring them to God, leave them with Him in exchange for grace and a clean slate and the strength to do better next time.
It’s a beautiful trade.
I don’t need to drag my past failures around all day, using them as bullets to shoot myself in the foot anytime I try to advance in my growth.
I am FREE to accept myself based on His full acceptance of me.
If He says I am forgiven, who am I to argue?
A mistake becomes a learning opportunity - not a life sentence. You don’t have to KEEP yourself there. Never end on a mistake - learn from it. Move beyond it.
How? By making friends with yourself. Forgive yourself as He has forgiven you. Love yourself as He loves you - just as you are. And allow His perfect love to begin healing you.
Slowly, as I trusted what God said about me, I began to be my own ally, a loving overseer of my life and body instead of a slave-driver, accuser and harsh judge.
I became my own friend.
And this impacted everything.
Turns out the way you relate to yourself is how you are inviting others to relate to you too.
Decades later I’m still in process, but I am NOT the same woman I was when I routinely spewed up nasty lies to the girl in the mirror. I have truly become my own friend, able to accept God’s unconditional love and other people’s as well.
Life is too short to keep beating yourself up and punishing yourself. God got over your mistakes before you even made them - when will you? Allow these truths to take hold: you are FORGIVEN, you are LOVED, you are VALUABLE. Release the self-hatred, so that instead of an enemy in the mirror you can look into the eyes of a powerful ally - loved, valued and set free by God Himself.
-Kelly Joyce (a member of the Crown of Beauty community. Check out her blog at Triumphantly.net)