I am by far my worst critic.
It’s like the inner “me” wants to recognize weakness or failure before anyone else has the chance to.
I struggle with focus and time management, and the other day after committing to be on time getting out the door, I ended up being later than ever for an appointment. I sighed heavily as we were pulling out of the driveway and said offhandedly, but out loud (with my three kids all ears), “Sometimes I really hate myself.” The second it came out of my mouth, I knew it was not only a terrible thing to say (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my children never to use the word “hate”), but that in that moment seeds were sown into my children that could never be taken back. They might take root, they might not. But because of my careless words, they were in there. I was heartbroken.
So you can imagine how devastated I was when one of my kids made a bad choice and had to suffer a consequence, and I heard him say, “I hate myself.”
We All Make Mistakes
I’m not sharing this to drag you down, or to dredge up your own memories of careless words you can’t take back. I know I gave Satan a foothold in that moment, but I also believe firmly that my God is bigger than my sin, capable of forgiving me, and for taking something terrible and using it for His good purposes – because that is what His Word says:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (NIV)
But I also know that I’ll have to have some long conversations with my children about my words to undo some of the damage that’s been done. Because those words weren’t the first seeds planted. There have been other actions, subtle words and reactions that I’m sure they’ve picked up on over the years that point to a deeper problem than an untamed tongue.
The root of the problem is wrong thinking about who I am.
I don’t really hate myself. I get very angry with myself for making mistakes or at perceived failures; my inner critic is worse than Mommy Dearest. But it’s all rooted in believing lies. So for myself, and for you if you find yourself struggling with some of the same lies, I want to name the lies I’ve been believing, and counter them with God’s truth.
3 Lies I Believed About Myself
Lie #1: I Am In Control
According to Exodus 3:14, God’s response to this would be, “No, I AM!”
Sometimes my perceived failures come from poor planning or time management, but many times the things that make me angry are things that are totally out of my control, or honest mistakes. But God is in those things, and if I would open my stubbornly closed eyes and just look for the ways He is at work, even in the curve balls of life – especially in the curve balls of life – I would be so much more at peace, and get frustrated with myself so much less. And I’d be painting a picture for my kids of God at work in all things.
Another way this lie creeps in is when I say yes to everything. I believe (wrongly) that if I don’t do it, nobody will. But God is sovereign and has infinite resources at His fingertips! I create frustration for myself when I think I’m in control, rather than going to God in prayer and simply asking him for guidance, and being open to (and not feeling guilty about) saying no. Because overloading ourselves is a great way to invite failure.
Lie #2: I Need The Approval Of Others
See, I want to look perfect on the outside. I’d like to be on time to every appointment. I’d like to maintain a spotless house, cook healthy dinners, have well groomed children, bring the best home-cooked pot luck meals to the church events…not for God’s glory, but for my own. And have I mentioned that I rarely accomplish any of these things? When I don’t measure up, it looks like failure to me. But it’s because I’m using the wrong measuring stick for success:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Lie #3: I Am Not Worthy
I tried to figure out the wording for this lie, and “I’m not worthy” was the closest I could come. This lie permeates so much of my life, and it is reflected in a lack of confidence, a constant questioning of my value in the eyes of others, and the constant need to apologize. I’ve had more than one person tell me I wasn’t allowed to say “I’m sorry,” because I say it so much.
This lie rears its ugly head in ministry and in my writing most of all. It makes me feel like either I’m not perfect enough or holy enough to be sharing anything of value to others, or wonder why anyone would want to hear anything I have to say.
I was an only child, raised by incredibly loving, supportive parents. I have no idea where this idea took root that I’m somehow not worthy of the approval of others, or that somehow I’m less valuable than everyone around me. In a way, I see it as a gift because I truly do value others above myself in many cases, but God has been teaching me lately that in order to love others well – and that includes my children – I have to first love myself well:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 (NIV)
Love Yourself As You Are Loved By Jesus
It’s almost as if our capacity to love others hinges on our capacity to love ourselves. I’ve left you with some truths to meditate on if you struggle with your self-worth like I do. I plan to print them out and put them somewhere I can read them as affirmations of who I am and whose I am, and to teach them to my children!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
“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. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7 (NIV)
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
Luke 15: Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son
So What About You?
What lies have you believed about yourself that have kept you from walking in the fullness of life that God is calling you to? Whether you’re in the thick of things or want to share wisdom from a place of victory, we’d love to hear your story.
What lies have you believed about yourself that have kept you from walking in the fullness of life that God is calling you to?
If you liked this blog post, keep your eyes open for our upcoming book, Candid Conversations, where Heather Hart, the founder of Candidly Christian, has partnered with 25 other Christian women (including Jaime). While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Coming August 13th, 2018. Kindle edition now available for pre-order.