Do you ever feel like it is wrong to love yourself? Do you ever feel like it is prideful to consider yourself valuable, likeable, beautiful, or talented? I don’t know if this is a common issue among all individuals, but I am certain it is a common issue among Christians.
Throughout my life, the exhortation to avoid becoming a prideful individual and to always live in humility was taught so frequently and emphatically that it became an area of obsession for me. I had seen and experienced the repercussions of being related to a prideful and self-obsessed individual and feared that I may somehow fall into the same lifestyle. As a result, I eventually went to the opposite extreme and sank into self-hate and self-degradation – what I thought was “humility”.
Being a person of black-and-white/extreme thinking, I thought it was better to hate myself, cut myself down, discount my achievements, and consider myself useless than it was to love myself, celebrate my accomplishments, and acknowledge that I had gifts or talents. I remember reading and misinterpreting Romans 12:3 which says:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
I mistakenly concluded that this Scripture’s message was, do not think highly of yourself… if anything, think less of yourself. Boy, was I wrong about this!
Yes, we should avoid thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, but we can still think highly of ourselves. God thinks highly of us! And, thinking of ourselves with sober judgment means thinking of ourselves with a sound mind. A mind of self-hate and self-degradation is not a SOUND MIND.
Not only are we encouraged to have a sound mind in self-evaluation, but we are also told to think of ourselves IN ACCORDANCE with the FAITH God has given to us. The word faith here is the conviction of the truth of anything. So, this Scripture is telling us to think of ourselves with a SOUND MIND and in accordance with TRUTH. It does NOT say we should hate ourselves, degrade ourselves, or discount our gifts and talents.
I clung to my incorrect definition of humility so tightly that I started to believe and live into the destructive self-hate. Here is the problem: I was so fixed on this self-hate and self-degradation that it became something I thought about all the time! I focused on myself just as much as a prideful person would focus on herself. Whether we are thinking unfavorably about ourselves or arrogantly about ourselves, we are still thinking about ourselves more than anything else. They are both forms of self-obsession.
C.S. Lewis states it perfectly: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
It is okay to love and value yourself! It is okay to recognize and be thankful for your talents and accomplishments! In fact, loving and valuing yourself is something that pleases God because it is aligning yourself with His truth about you.
My prayer for myself and for all of you today is that we grow into a deeper understanding of our significance, developing a self-perception that is aligned with God’s perception. Let’s learn to think of ourselves with a sound mind and on the basis of truth! Be honest about yourself!