It’s tough to embrace life when you don’t like yourself. For the longest time I had learned to not accept and get along with myself and had even more difficulty accepting and getting along with others. The Bible repeatedly tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I personally spent years having a hard time getting along with people, until I finally realized through the Word of God how my difficulty with other people was actually “rooted” in my difficulties with myself.
The Bible says a good tree will bear good fruit, and a rotten tree will bear rotten fruit. Likewise, the “fruit” of our lives comes from the “root” within us. If you’re rooted in shame, guilt, inferiority, rejection, lack of love and acceptance, etc., the fruit of your relationships will suffer.
A lie that was embedded in my heart long ago through an event that happened when I was nine caused me to believe that no one was safe. A man sexually molested me and that incident introduced into my life shame, fear, and control. The experience filled me with shame, as I was powerless to escape from the situation. I was paralyzed with fear and threatened with my life and the ones close to me if I told anyone. The only way I felt safe was to bury it all away in my memory and control everything in close proximity. As I grew, my relationship with shame, fear, and control would manifest in my life becoming deeply rooted.
Not until over 13 years ago, when I married my wife Shelly, did all the ugliness of this root’s fruit come glaring into focus in my life. Only then after bringing this root into the light and realizing how deceived I had been, was I genuinely able to start my journey to freedom. Once the veil was torn, so to speak, I was able to reflect on my past and realize how this pattern had become the mantra for my life. The real me was locked down and buried underneath all the shame, fear, and control that I allowed to take root in my heart. I realized that I did not know how to connect and have deep, meaningful relationships with anyone. As I realized this difficult fact, I was compelled to change it. The journey has been tough at times, but I have continued to hack away at the root, and allow my Father in Heaven to speak my true identity into my very being.
I finally started to fully embrace the revelation of God’s unconditional love for me and have begun to accept myself and others as the Lord sees them. These new roots are now producing good fruit, and I have been able to take my relationships to a whole new level of depth!
This was a snapshot of my personal life struggle to figure out who I really am. On this journey, I have discovered that God will not do for us what he is given us the ability to do for ourselves. Here are some powerful truths to apply in practical ways that will keep our hearts unlocked and allow our true identity to become a reality in our lives!
- Never say or think negative things about yourself, such as, “I never do anything right.” “I’ll never change.” “I’m ugly.” “I look terrible.” “I’m dumb.” “Who could ever love me?” Matthew12:37says, …by your words you will be justified…, and by your words you will be condemned…. Proverbs 23:7 says, …as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he. In other words, the way we talk and think about ourselves reveals how we feel about ourselves.
- Speak good things about yourself (as declarations) in line with what the Word says about you. For example: “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” “I am made acceptable in the Beloved.” “God created me and formed me with His own hands, and God doesn’t make mistakes.” I like starting the day making good confessions. Perhaps you can do this while you’re driving to work or cleaning house. I also encourage you to look in the mirror and say out loud, “God loves and accepts you, and so do I.” You may even try hugging yourself. This is beneficial to people who have lacked love and acceptance in their lives.
- Never compare yourself with other people. God must love variety or He wouldn’t have created us all differently—even down to our fingerprints. You’ll never succeed at being yourself if you’re trying to be like someone else. Other people can be a good example to you, but duplicating even their good traits will manifest differently through your individual personality.
- Focus on your potential instead of your limitations. Actress Helen Hayes was told early in her career that if she were four inches taller she’d be the greatest actress of her time. Her coaches tried various methods of stretching her, but nothing increased her height. She refused to concentrate on the supposed limitation of being five feet tall and decided to concentrate on her potential. As a result, she was eventually cast as Mary, Queen of Scotland—one of the tallest queens who ever lived.
- Find something you like to do that you do well, and do it over and over. If you spend your time doing things you’re not good at, it’ll frustrate you and cause you to feel defeated and unsuccessful.
- Have the courage to be different and deal with criticism. Be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser (see Galatians1:10). If you dare to be different, you’ll have to expect some criticism. Going along with the crowd—when you know in your heart God’s leading you a different way—is one reason people don’t succeed at being themselves. You won’t like yourself very much if you go against your own convictions.
- Don’t let the way another person treats you determine your worth.
- Keep your flaws in perspective. People with a high level of confidence have just as many weaknesses as people without confidence, but they concentrate on their strengths—not their flaws or weaknesses.
In conclusion, let me remind you of my opening statement: It’s tough to embrace life when you don’t like yourself. When we allow the Love of our Father to consume and breath identity into us, we will be well on our way to a life of fulfilling our true purpose by releasing who God created us to be!
Outreach Ministry Leader