I’m taking myself on a writing retreat for the month of September (unfortunately still at home with dirty dishes and laundry), in order to REALLY work on and hopefully finish my first non-fiction book. I’ve started two others over the years that both made it to publishers committees, but I wasn’t ready. I pray I am now! In the meantime, I’ve dug out chapters and excerpts from my previous two book attempts to share with you. The first book I started was called:
Escape From Wonderland: How to Stop Chasing Fantasies and Live in the Realities of Your Faith
Hope you enjoy it! Here’s Part I of Chapter 4…
Is it Okay to Love Myself?
“Sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes…for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people.” – Alice in Wonderland
Am I Cinderella or a Princess of the King?
I told my husband a few years back that a strange thing was happening to me—I was starting to feel good about myself. I was beginning to think I was a good person. “Is that okay?” I asked.
“What if it’s pride? How will I know?”
“Don’t worry,” my tell-it like-it-is husband assured me, “I’ll be sure to let you know!”
What a distorted perception I had of the “right” thoughts to think about myself. I had interpreted the scripture “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3) to mean it was wrong to think any good thoughts about myself. I believed proper Christian humility was to think poorly of myself. I thought being a good Christian woman meant living life as Cinderella—a hidden existence of humble servitude.
Being humble to me meant trying to balance performance scores in my head. Every time I felt a teeny bit successful or received any form of compliment I would immediately think of all the things that were wrong with me—I had to negate any thoughts that might pop into my head that something might be right. I had a minus for every pIus. Then I had to find even more minuses so I could always end up on the negative side of the scale.
I didn’t need anyone else’s criticism; I was my own worst judge. I didn’t even need an enemy; I was my own worst enemy. I could aim with sharpshooter accuracy my own fiery darts of accusation. After all, I knew my vulnerabilities better than anyone. I knew I wasn’t really worthy and I knew how to convince myself it was the truth.
It’s amazing that despite all my ferocious attacks against myself, I was never able to extinguish my hidden dream of being a princess—of being a somebody who was a somebody! Somewhere in my heart of hearts I knew I was really not a Cinderella, that my true hidden Christian identity was to be a princess of the King! So while I “humbly” tried to live as a sub-servant servant, I secretly dreamed of the day Jesus would show up and the shoe would finally fit.
I thought it would be like the fairy-tale and one day I would be Cinderella and the next I would be that princess. I had no idea that it would take years and years for God to rewrite the scripts in my head first.
I’m My Own Worst Enemy
Despite my laundry list of doubts about myself, I was somehow able to “put myself out there” and try doing things that were out of my Cinderella comfort zone. Like teaching a Bible study class. After my first night of teaching I decided I was going to go home and curl up into a ball and never venture out of my house again. I scolded myself so severely over what I had said or didn’t say, and flogged myself with my list of faults and inadequacies until I was a sobbing mess.
I cried for hours. But the next week I went out and taught again, and cried again. I continued this cycle for years. I would step out into ministry and do my best, then go home and beat myself up for a week.
It encouraged me to find examples in the Bible of true heroes of the faith who also experienced times of self-doubt and even despair about who they were. Elijah, for example, a prophet and a man of great humility and faith, conquered the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven, then packed up and ran to hide in the desert. After a great victory on the mountain he fell into the depths of discouragement.
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4 (NIV)
How well I knew this feeling! And all I was doing was teaching a Bible study class!
I was, like the description of Alice at the beginning of this chapter, a curious child of God, pretending to be two people…
One who could do all things through Christ, and one who couldn’t. I had the scripts for both parts well memorized. But I couldn’t continue to play them this way forever.
Pretending to be anything other than the truth of who we are takes way too much energy. Thankfully, I began to get sick (literally) and tired of acting in the sad, overly dramatic play that had become my life.
I knew enough of the truth about what God said about me in the Bible to know that I was supposed to be believing it instead of attacking it. But the old habits of my thought life were deeply ingrained. I prayed for God to help me learn to live in the truth of the scripture.
Romans 12:2 became a guide for the re-writing of my scripts.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (NLT)
You know the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, I’m not a dog, but I might as well have been! It seemed nearly impossible for my old mind to learn to renew itself. I found I had to turn my thoughts against myself again.
Only this time, instead of attacking the positive thoughts I went on a mission to attack the negative thoughts—to erase every minus thought with a plus and try to end up on the positive side for a change.
To be continued in Part II…
Have you found it hard to love yourself?
Share your story in the comments!
I’ll be back with Part II in a few days!
© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011. All rights reserved.