I keep thinking about conversations over the years about self esteem and how to gain it… It is not something I have struggled with, for reasons that I can name and not name at the same time. I am thankful for it, and strive to develop it in my kids – not self esteem so much really… more self love than anything. Not that silly, self serving, self focused esteem taught by the world. No, true self love, the kind that uses the lenses of Christ. – the way he loves us. How does someone get there? Especially when the damage of years of self deprecating criticism has piled on? After years and years of that kind of damage?
I was packing for the beach and thinking about my bathing suit. It’s getting a little worn out and isn’t nearly as cute as I’d like it to be. My cellulite is even more unattractive… then I thought to myself… “well, I rarely ever notice everyone else’s issues in this area, so no body is going to notice me… “ Two things strike me here: 1) Some people DO notice -- and when I mean notice, I mean beyond just recognizing…. I mean taking note perhaps even to passing judgment. 2)The same people that do take note are looking at themselves through the same lenses….
And then I think so maybe appearance, weight and style aren’t my deal… maybe those aren’t the things I’m taking note of and draw judgment… Here’s where I’m judging… kahki pants, sperry’s, BMW’s, big houses… I see those things and think to myself – I really don’t like that person… and for no other reason than that they have money.. or want us to think that they do… but what’s the difference, really? It’s not seeing people through the lenses of Christ… That’s not REAL love – the kind John is talking about.
So I ponder on these things… and what is the answer? What do we do with it all? Is it just because we are human? Is it just something we cope with? And why and how do these two aspects (our view of others and our view of ourselves) correlate?
Then today during my quiet time I stumbled upon this: (Message version)
1 John 3:18-24
The Message (MSG)
When We Practice Real Love
18-20My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
21-24And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.
Read it a couple times through… it takes a bit to sink in. and when it does, you begin to notice a sequence of cause and effect:
1) First and foremost practice real love. What is real love? The love of Christ, right? Through his lenses? He loves the cellulite, the color, the person. He loves it all. He looks beyond the style of the bathing suit, the size of the person, the amount of tanning… all of it. He looks beyond the khaki pants and Sperrys. He sees the person. The person He created in the first place and loves. How often do we do that really?
2) Then look what John says next - when we love this way, it gets rid of self criticism!!!! The answer is to love—REALLY LOVE—others. When we stop judging others we stop judging ourselves. Every time we cast a negative thought about others, we are really doing it to ourselves. So we have been taught in order to be truly helpful and really functional we have to love ourselves first. And this is true, when we are focused on our selves, we can’t move beyond our world… but look, we can’t stop self deprecating until we really and truly love others.. And this is the part I really notice: “even if there is something to it” so even if it is true. So he is saying we can shut down self criticism even when there are things to criticize… So the answer isn’t we can love ourselves when the problem is solved… when the weight comes off… when we have a cute bathing suit… nope….
3) This is where is gets good. When those things are handled, when we can truly love with a real love and self criticism is handled, THEN “we become bold and free before God” That’s when we are able to sit before him transparent and ask.
4) THEN>>>>>>>> we can receive all he has for us.
So what does this mean if we take what John says seriously??? We can’t receive from God everything he has for us until this stuff is solved. We can’t receive everything God has for us until we Love with the love of Christ and that includes ourselves.
I don’t think I can ever Un-Know this…