It begins with sin and failure. We lament because we can't measure up - no matter how strong our resolve or determination, we just can't seem to get it together. We might be carried by motivation for a day, but the next day is followed by failure yet again. This cycle can lead to frustrations in ourselves for failure to measure up. After a while, we can, perhaps unknowingly, begin a cycle of self-hatred.
This happens when we have no patience with ourselves. We loathe ourselves because of our sin. We hate that we fail God, fail our families, and can never get it right. And we hate ourselves for it.
We may not recognize it as hate, but because we are putting so much faith in self, and then self fails us, we become bitter with ourselves. Ironic as it sounds, this may even be a form of idolatry; this faith in self. We set ourselves up as if we are capable of righteous living on our own. When we walk in this defeated way, we live as if we didn't depend on Christ, but rather we're depending on ourselves.
If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others - because we cannot give what we don't have.
So how do we break this cycle?
Who does God say we are?
Children of God -
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Faith comes by hearing.
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17
Faith comes by believing. We believe that God is who He says He is and He's going to do what He said He's going to do.
Faith is not some power of positive thinking - that if we just believe hard enough that something is true, then we have faith. Wrong. Faith isn't based on what we can do (through our "positive thinking"). Faith is what He's already done, and accepting it as truth.
It does no good to read the Scriptures if we don't believe what they say - if we don't believe they were meant for us.
Pulling ourselves from this mindset is going to take practice. The best way to defeat a lie is to counter it with Truth. Meditate on Scripture. Read often and believe what you read!
Also? And this is important: Let Him love on you. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our faults and unworthiness, we shut Him out from loving on us simply because we don't deserve it. It's a hard place to be, because we don't want to make our "self" believe our sin is OK simply because we allow God to accept us. Remember where our acceptance lies: not in our "self", but in Christ. God loves us too much to let us go--to be separated from us.
I remember a story in the Old Testament that reminds me of God's compassion for His people. David sinned by ordering a census of the land. The census was a form of comfort in his power. When he realized His mistake, God gave him 3 choices of punishment. Three years of famine in his land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of plague on your land?
David chose the three days of plague. After the angel stretched his hand over the land and seventy thousand people had died, God ordered Him to stop, because He was grieved due to the affliction on his people.
Don't you see? Our sin tore up God as much as it does us. The difference? God sent us Jesus so we would no longer have to allow this sin to keep us separated from our Father - not just in heaven, but here, on earth, too. Now.
So yes, keep working out your faith and walking in His footsteps. Do not fail to try.
But know even upon your stumbling, you are still greatly loved. You must believe this to receive it. And you must receive it to give it.
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