Photo courtesy of ©photodune.net
Most of us long for more. Do you?
In my previous post, I talked about the self-hatred many of us battle. We mercilessly punish ourselves for things done and said (or not done and not said). We open the door, and guilt is there. We turn the corner, and shame is waiting for us. Pain clouds our days.
Deep down, we know we were meant for more than this.
Sometimes We Have to Be Broken
I was in my mid-30′s. I’d been having panic attacks. I was struggling in multiple areas. Fear was a constant companion. Grief took over my life.
It was an ugly, emotionally intense time. It culminated one night at about 3 a.m. I couldn’t sleep and found myself prostrate on the floor, my face buried in a pillow, weeping. That night seemed to last forever, but when I got up the next morning, my perspective had changed.
Something had broken inside. Looking back, I believe I came to the end of myself. I quit struggling to figure it all out. I ceased trying to be in control. Somehow, I had let go.
Brokenness Can Lead to Freedom
I love this Scripture:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Do not allow yourselves, then, to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I was used to slavery. A broken home, childhood sexual abuse, and multiple losses set up me up for guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety. I tried to make myself as small and quiet as possible, hoping to somehow disappear. I wanted out.
Even then, I knew I was meant for more.
I was meant to live in freedom. So were you.
- Free to replace fear with faith
- Free to grieve the loss of those you love
- Free to endure suffering without letting it rule your heart
- Free to forgive and live grudge-less
- Free to accept the past, knowing it doesn’t determine your future
- Free to struggle, knowing you’re always in training for better things
- Free to be broken to live at new level of maturity and wisdom
- Free to let go and trust, knowing you’re not in charge
- Free to encourage and shun gossip
- Free to love God and other people
- Free to be whom you were created to be
- Free to exercise the talents and gifts you were given
- Free to serve and make a difference in the world
- Free to battle and overcome evil
Whatever’s back there, deal with it.
Whatever’s out there, lean into it.
Everything you face is part of your freedom-training. Flee self-slavery. Find some good freedom-training partners. Lean forward.
You were meant for more. You can do this – one day at a time.
Question: Which one of the “freedoms” above grabbed your attention, and why?
Photo courtesy of ©photodune.net
How much time and energy have I spent punishing myself for the things I’ve said and done?
More than I’d care to admit.
What good did it do? Did it alleviate the pain of my failure? Did it solve the issue and restore relationships? Did it help me grow and learn?
So why do I do this?
Why We Punish Ourselves
Let’s face it. We don’t always like ourselves. There’s some self-hatred in all of us.
So when we blow it, this seed of self-dislike suddenly bursts into full bloom. Self-punishment is the result.
We dwell on our failures. We feel terrible. We overeat, or starve ourselves. We work ourselves to death, or become ambitionless couch potatoes. We medicate ourselves with our chosen vices.
The results? Our guilt and shame grow. Our deep-rooted dislike of ourselves expands.
It’s My Fault
Guilt and shame have been close companions of mine since early childhood. Sexual abuse played a huge role in this. Though an innocent victim, I blamed myself. Surely it was my fault.
This led to assuming I was to blame when anything went wrong. If I was bad, then everything bad around me was my fault. I became painfully shy. I even pretended I was invisible so that perhaps nothing else bad would happen.
Maybe my case is extreme. But after three decades of listening to people’s stories, I’ve discovered the thread of self-hatred is thicker than we realize. It destroys more lives than we can count.
Our Self-Hatred is Obvious
Our self-hatred parades itself everywhere. Check today’s news. Glance at the headlines. Contemplate our history. Self-hatred has threaded its way to our core. It influences and even determines our lives in ways we’re not aware.
This runs deep. I believe it’s spiritual. And if the problem is spiritual, so must the solution be. It’s ultimately an issue of faith – what we believe about ourselves, the world, and God.
My theology says Jesus Christ died on the cross for me. He shouldered my evil. He willingly received my punishment. My belief system says he did this to set me free from shame and guilt, because he loved me. And as his life was expiring, he said, “It is finished.”
I find myself staring at the cross. It’s as if Jesus is looking right at me.
“It is finished.”
Yet I continue to toy with self-hatred.
If whom I believe to be the Creator and Savior of the universe forgives and accepts me, why do I mercilessly continue this war on myself? When I indulge in guilt, shame, and self-punishment, am I not saying, “Jesus what you did was great and all, but it’s just not enough for me?”
We’re Screaming for Help
No matter what our faith orientation, most of us believe we’re more than mere accidents. We inherently know people are special and have profound value.
Advertising knows our self-hatred well. Most products and services offered are saturated with the message, “You’re worth it!” We’re screaming, “Someone, somewhere, please convince me I matter!” And we’re willing to pay out the nose for anything that promises to help.
We’re desperately trying to prop ourselves up, and it’s not working. In almost every conversation I have, people somehow say, “We’re meant for more than this!”
Yes. More than guilt and shame. More than self-hatred and self-punishment.
How do we get there?
Tune in next time. Maybe we’ll find some answers.
QUESTION: How big of an issue do you think self-hatred is, and why?