I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. — Psalm 31:7-8
I have a dear friend who is a mother of four and a sister in the Lord who has struggled fiercely with self-hatred for most of her life. About seven years ago, I encouraged her to believe this promise over her life and that God could and would bring her to a spacious place even in this.
Over the past seven years she’s done the hard work of persevering through the rigorous healing process that is needed when we’re dealing with such deep-rooted emotional scars in our lives.
Often my friend wondered if the battle was worth it, if she would ever see any real lasting change. Recently she emailed me the below story of her journey, her battle, and her victory. She ended by saying,
I am most excited that I no longer beat myself up and tear myself down. I love the freedom of no more defeating self talk.
Do you believe God can set you free from your self-hatred?
Above All Else, Guard Your Heart
by Jill Reding
She grew up during a civil war. This civil war was in her mind. There was sweat, tears and rage. For years depression and anxiety followed every battle. Worry and fret filled her chaotic mind. She was emotionally neglected and played the role of caretaker to wounded hearts close to her. Her wounds were ignored. However, she was not always ok with this. She learned to manipulate, appear helpless or rage with anger in order to demand attention. But guilt would overtake her, guilt and shame would cover her, and so the attention from others fell short as she picked herself up, stuffed her needs and became the caretaker again. The role of the helper, or the good one, made everyone else happy. That was good on the outside. On the inside she was bleeding and hated herself.
As the girl grew up in this civil war era, she learned two different languages, or perhaps two different mind sets. One was called Grace and Love, the other beat up and self-defeat. Grace and Love sounded like this… I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone the new has come. God loves me just the way I am. I am content and fulfilled in Christ. He lives and breathes in me. He’s in control and in charge of my life and my circumstances. I love to serve and help others just like Jesus served and helped others. I am content to be who God created me to be. I belong to Him. He cares about my every need, so I can rest in His plan for my life. He’s got my back. It’s ok to make mistakes. He is all I need. He is enough. Nothing I DO can change God’s Grace and Love in my life.This vulnerable girl learned about rules and outward expectations from God believing adults in her life. She believed that these rules must be obeyed otherwise she would not be completely accepted by God and others. She carried around a ruler to measure herself, and since she always fell short, she would beat herself up. Therefore, the language in her mind called beat up and self-defeat sounded like this…
You’re not good enough… you can’t do it… you are ugly…you are fat…it’s all your fault…you should have known better…see, they better than you…you did this to yourself … no one really cares about you…if only they knew what you think…you better keep trying and trying…you’re still not good enough.
This girl often wondered why she seemed different, what was wrong with her. Others saw a normal girl, pleasant, fun-loving, beautiful and well put together. They would come to her for help. She loved encouraging and praying for others. But she rarely had contentment deep within. How could she speak godly truth to someone else, but not accept it for herself? No wonder she felt crazy.
God says, through Paul, she can learn to be content. Consider trials a joy. She failed again and again to measure up. Depression hurt those closest to her. Her neediness was more than loved ones could bear. When she hurt or annoyed others, she hated herself even more. When she hated herself, she would eat, or people-please, or exercise, or rage, or isolate. The treadmill of trying so hard was exhausting and she would turn her back from her feelings, and from a Grace and Love mind-set.
The girl heard a story that opened her eyes to her own conflicted heart. It was about a daughter who was hit by a car and the mother ran after the car in a rage of anger and guilt before rescuing the daughter. The daughter needed comfort and love from her mother. The daughter did not need to be beat up or measured up to see if she was worthy of comfort. The girl realized she was like the mother, she too had turned her back and she needed to rescue the little girl inside of her. She needed to rescue her own heart from being beat up and wounded.
It was time to put to an end the war. Would she choose Grace and Love or beat up and self-defeat? Would she listen to God’s truths or would she continue to believe the enemy’s lies? Once she faced her old wounds she was free to see truth in a way she never had before. It was not easy revisiting battle scars again. But she nurtured herself. She rescued her defeated heart. And she did not have to do it alone because she recognized she was worthy of God’s grace and love over her. She claimed the truth that was already in her, Christ her Redeemer.
The Bible is full of wonderful verses that reveal God’s promises. One particular verse whispered to her heart words of truth. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
What does a guard do?
A guard protects the enemy from entering the castle. It protects! It fights. It rescues. The girl is guarding her heart from a beat up and self-defeating mind-set. She will not accept that language anymore. She learned its ok for a broken girl to truly embrace Grace and Love.
The war has greatly settled down in her mind. When stressors tempt her to beat herself up and use the measuring stick of perfection, she remembers Christ in her is enough. Christ in her enables Grace and Love. Together, this girl, with the help from her Loving Father, chose to guard her heart from the lies that once consumed her being.
She speaks like this once again…
… I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone the new has come. God loves me just the way I am. I am content and fulfilled in Christ. He lives and breathes in me. He’s in control and in charge of my life and my circumstances. I love to serve and help others just like Jesus served and helped others. I am content to be who God created me to be. I belong to Him. He cares about my every need, so I can rest in His plan for my life. He’s got my back. It’s ok to make mistakes. He is all I need. He is enough. Nothing I DO can change God’s Grace and Love in my life.
Do you believe God can set you free from your self-hatred?