Thursday, May 7, 2015

When You Hate Yourself

 You’ve done it. You’ve screwed up big time. You deserve the World’s Greatest Idiot award. Maybe it was just a careless mistake, or a slip back into a vicious bad habit, or a word that slipped out when it shouldn’t have. Regardless, you’ve messed up, and it sucks. Cue the facepalms, the groans of anguish, the eyes raised to heaven, and the mental browbeating. I’ve really done it this time. I can’t believe I could be so damn STUPID. How could anyone possibly love me? I’m not worth the fillings in my molars.

Now imagine, if you would, one of your best friends coming up to you sobbing like Niagara falls, claiming that they’ve just done something really bad and that their world is about to end. What would you say to them? “Gee, you really did it this time! How could you be so stupid? Here, take this spatula and go flagellate yourself for an hour.” Heck no! You’d be all balm and kindness. “It’s not so bad. You’re just human and you made a mistake. Here, have a cookie.” We wouldn’t dream of shooting down our friends. So why do we shoot down ourselves? 

You did WHAT?!!!
  In every human soul there is the terrible wound of low self-esteem. Some of us may not even realize how much we hate ourselves until we drop the ball and all the collective little whisperings of You’re stupid, You’re ugly, You’ll never be as good as him/her, You’re worthless come pouring through the cracks of our broken hearts. And we drink it in, let ourselves drown in it, because we think we deserve it.

Not only is this pattern of thinking extremely depressing, but it greatly increases the chance that we will fall into a certain bad mistake or behavior again, especially if the behavior is addictive, like pornography, masturbation, or drug and alcohol abuse. We feel crappy about falling again, so we nurse the pain the only way we know how: by returning to the very thing that caused us pain in the first place, even though we know that the initial pleasure will be greatly outweighed by the aftermath. 

The reason we can offer comfort and assurance to our friends when they mess up is because we have an outsider’s perspective; we see our friends from an entirely different angle than they see themselves. Few people have the ability to recognize the good in themselves—how they always have a smile, are willing to help others, or have the ability to listen patiently—so it’s our job as their friends to point these qualities out to them in order to encourage them. From the outside, we can see that our so-called “fallen friends” are basically good people who are trying desperately to love and be loved in this crazy mixed-up world.

And this is how Jesus sees us when we mess up. The basic message of Jesus’s apparitions to Sister Maria Faustina is that Jesus asks us not to judge ourselves and whether or not we merit punishment for our sins, but rather to approach Him with loving and humble confidence, for He sees us as his little lost children and not as evil sinners who deserve eternal damnation. Because our own hearts are so mean, so narrow, so cold and hard, we do not realize how good, how forgiving, how compassionate is the heart of Jesus. Because it is so hard for us to love and forgive others, we have trouble understanding how Jesus can love and forgive us unconditionally, without asking anything in return except that we love Him back.

Because He is God and God knows everything, Jesus understands why we do the things we do, why we keep falling into the same sins, even if we do not understand. We don’t sin because we want to offend God; we sin because we think, even if just for a moment, that it will make us happy, and Jesus understands this. He knows that we are weak, he remembers that we are only dust. How, then, could He condemn us and punish us? It would be like a mother beating her toddler for eating too much ice cream and getting sick. Little Joey doesn’t need a spanking; he needs help, love, and probably a bath.

Therefore, who are we to say that we are stupid, worthless, and deserving of six eons in hell when we don’t have even the slightest idea of how God sees us and takes pity on us? Who are we do pronounce judgement on ourselves when only God can do that?

Satan does his best, especially when it comes to sins of impurity, to make those sins seem far worse than others. In fact, we can sometimes succumb to a sort of “sin pride” that makes us feel like we’re really bad and that other people’s sins couldn’t even compare to ours. The key is to not let these sins overwhelm us. Sin is sin, and sin means turning away from God, which can only be remedied by turning back to God. 

Yes, we are fallen creatures, miserable and sinful and weak. Don’t think for a moment that this isn’t true. But we have a God whose mercy is infinitely greater, who sent His only Son not for the perfect people, but for every last stinking one of us. Before you were even conceived, Jesus knew all of the sins you would commit, and He created you anyway. As He was dying on the Cross, He saw all of the people who would reject His sacrifice, all the people who wouldn’t care, all of the sins everyone in the world was going to commit, and He still chose to die for us. If that isn’t love and mercy, I don’t know what is.

Whenever you fall and fail—and you will, countless times in this life—just remember that the One who makes everything new doesn’t see you the way that you do.


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