This is something I am thinking a lot about these days.
All my life I have been in churches that teach very strongly “self love” is wrong. This is something I want to challenge. But I feel condemned in doing so. This is clearly not from God as the Bible says there is no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus (see Romans Chapter 8).
Different events which have occurred while I’ve been in New Jersey seem to have been designed to cause me to question my faith, or worse yet, my self. For if I can not trust myself, how can I trust what this “self” believes in? And this concisely is the reason we need to learn to believe in ourselves! I will either believe in me, and therefore my faith, or I will believe in you, and your faith. If we agree in our faith, there is no problem between us, there is a mutuality in spirit, and there is communion. But when leaders preach, and live out that which goes against the Bible, there is clearly a problem. Doubting myself is not the answer!
If I don’t believe in myself, my impression of truth, my ability to sense God’s leading in me, and my decision to be saved; how can I be a Christian, except by someone else’s faith in something which they expect me to believe? This is not faith in God, this is faith in someone else’s faith. If I believe in myself and my faith, and what you believe is against the Bible, there is a natural battle between us.
And so, again, this is the reason loving oneself (trusting oneself, knowing who one is and is meant to be in God) is so crucially important.
How dare anyone tell me I cannot love myself, whom God loves? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (the Bible says) It is God who justifies (Roman’s 8)!
How can so many church leaders insist that I not listen to what is inside me, which confers with the Bible, and infers that I am valuable? As the Bible says, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” Doubting this is my entire problem! But self doubt is precisely what is expected of me in such churches.
You may have heard me say this before: “If I love God, I love what God loves. God loves me, so I love me.”
This takes me back to my original question, “How do I love me?” Let me attempt to answer (and keep in mind “God is love” (I John 4:8).
- By doing things sometimes that I don’t want to do, because I know it is what is best for me.
- Not by following the flesh, that is not “self-love.” Following my flesh will work against me. That’s not what true self love is about!
- Getting drunk is not loving me, eating the wrong foods, smoking cigarettes or mind altering substances.
- Being mean to others is not loving me, as I am surely bringing God’s judgment upon myself, or at least His blessed correction. But forgiving myself for such things, is.
- Allowing myself to rest, taking care of me, not skipping important events which I know I need (unless skipping them represents something which I need more), being diligent at work in order to achieve better outcomes.
- Acknowledging my feelings matter, and doing things which will ultimately make me feel good. Letting myself care about my own feelings, even in the shadow of a church system which insists on abusing and denying the feelings of my self and others.
- Taking the time to clean my residence, exercise my body, or otherwise make something of my life.
With these examples I am just scratching the surface, especially on the issue of feelings. It is widely taught and accepted that our feelings don’t matter. But it could be argued that each one of us is ultimately only in pursuit of a good feeling state. Who in reality is not motivated by feelings? If you really think about it, what else is there really?
Deny a person’s right to feel, and you will open a whole slew of problems. Undoubtedly he or she will seek to get the need to feel good, or at least okay, met by some means in which he or she is in actuality hurting him or herself. Hurting oneself is the problem. And it is a problem we are left alone with in the shadow of a church claiming to love God, who in actuality does not love Him, or “itself,” nearly enough.