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Self-Hatred Is NOT Attractive
by Leah Nichols
7/05/2010 / Dating
Sue is a young and beautiful Christian woman who would love nothing other than to marry a handsome and confident man of God. She reads clean romance novels and listens intently to older women she knows, gathering ideas about the ideal man she can expect God to send her way. She has made a list of all the things that are most important - placing "a solid relationship with God" at the top of the list.
Sue has a steady job, her debt is under control, and she has a great living situation and reliable transportation. She keeps her home clean, knows how to cook, and is a very trustworthy babysitter. She is generous with her resources and always a listening ear or a strong encourager to the people around her.
By this description, one might believe that men are virtually climbing over each other for a chance to date Sue. She's practically the perfect candidate for a wife! Yet Sue has never had a date. No handsome and confident man of God has ever asked her out. Why, you may ask? Because Sue has one major flaw that holds her back from everything she longs for - self-hatred.
Self-hatred has a fairly simple definition. In fact, I don't think I even need a dictionary - it is simply the hatred of one's self. For different people, this can mean different things. For instance, it can refer to one's physical body, one's personality, or even one's emotional state. In Sue's case, it refers to absolutely everything.
Sue hates everything about herself. She hates her body, she hates her clothes and how they make her look, she hates her shy personality, she hates her laugh, she hates her smile, she hates her hair, she hates her intellect, she hates. . . well, you get the picture. Alternating anorexia and overeating are a normal part of her life, and she repeatedly says "I'm sorry" for her every action, even if she has done no wrong. In social situations, she feels she is terribly awkward, so she rarely speaks unless spoken to. Her friends are at a loss to help her - nothing that they say will shake her belief that she is desperately flawed.
Unknowingly, Sue is communicating a message to every person around her - I am not worthy of your love. Of course, this stands in direct opposition to the deepest desire of her heart - to be loved. No matter how beautiful and desirable she appears on the outside, this inward state of self-hatred pushes up to the surface to mar her attractiveness to others. Though God has extended His grace toward her in the form of salvation and forgiveness, she persistently refuses to apply that forgiveness personally. She loves and forgives others readily, yet she continues to hate herself.
God has a different view of Sue than the one she believes. Ephesians 2:10 states, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (NKJV) This word - workmanship - refers to something produced by skill, by quality, or by the hands of an artisan. If God is almighty, then He is the ultimate artisan! Nothing He produces is of sub-par quality - we are all created by great design. In Psalm 139:14, David writes, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." (NKJV)
If God has created us skillfully and wonderfully into a marvelous workmanship, how dare anyone reject His great handiwork through self-hatred? Sue goes to great lengths to recognize her flaws, and justifies this action by pointing to her sin. If, however, she has received Christ as her Savior, she need not even be defined by that! Colossians 3:10 states that we as Christians "have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." (NKJV) The image of Christ is PERFECTION! As we are inwardly changed to be more like Jesus every day, outwardly we will begin to reflect His nature, which should point others to His glory.
Why does Sue, and others like her, remain locked in patterns of self-hatred? Why will she not believe the things God has spoken over her life? A few possibilities:
- She believes the lies of self-hatred. She truly believes she is flawed and helplessly beyond any kind of remedy. If she continues to believe this, though, she will never grasp the truth - she will always say she cannot change.
- She would rather cling to a false humility than to face her pride. She thinks that if she constantly depreciates herself, then she will not have any pride. This works in reverse, however, and the self-hatred becomes a kind of pride in itself. No one else can criticize her more sharply, and her friends are always focused on trying to build her up.
- She lets herself be defined by the ungodly labels that others have spoken over her life. Despite the presence of more truthful and edifying words straight from God through the Bible, she holds on to the curses of others that have come from the time she was young. Those words are more more familiar than these of the opposite spirit.
- Knowingly or unknowingly, she seeks attention from others. Putting herself down all the time places an unspoken obligation on her friends and family to build her up. The encouragement is addictive, as well as the attention, so she continues to seek more and more.
Sue may have another motivating factor that drives her toward self-hatred, but no matter what the cause, the action is wrong. God wants for her to believe what He says over her life. The Message puts it this way: "You have everything backward! You treat the potter as a lump of clay. Does a book say to its author, 'He didn't write a word of me'? Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it, 'She had nothing to do with this'?" (Isaiah 29:16) If God is pleased with the way He created Sue, she needs to agree with His assessment of her life. Which means she must stop agreeing with self-hatred; rather, to love herself for the wonderful creation God has made her to be.
Jeanne has a learning disability, and struggles to read even simple sentences. She also has problems with her stomach, so maintaining a healthy weight is difficult for her. People often assume she's anorexic because her tiny clothes barely fit her body.
Jeanne found Christ only four months ago after a long history of the party lifestyle. She's still working on quitting the smoking habit, and occasionally she will throw out a few choice four-letter words, which stuns her conservative church members.
Yet Jeanne radiates a joyful confidence, grounded in her understanding that God has not only saved her, but given her the mind of Christ. She's not worried about the mistakes she's making from day to day, because she knows that God is changing her from glory to glory.
She's not worried about her body, knowing that if God sees fit for her to marry, He will bring a husband that appreciates every part of her - even her hair, her shape, and her smile.
She's not worried about her personality - God made her unique, with her own quirky sense of humor....and she loves to make others laugh.
Is it any surprise that Jeanne has many new friends? Is it a surprise that she's catching some of the boys' eyes? Of course not! Others love to communicate with a confident young woman, and her positive attitude is contagious. Jeanne trusts in God to back her up, and she's able to face any situation with a smile.
How do you see yourself?
May you trust in what God says about you, and find that confidence that God desires for us all to have!
Leah writes in her spare time....whenever it's available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.
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