Why You Shouldn’t Hate Yourself

When I was in seventh grade, I had a teacher who would tell me “Stop ragging on yourself.” 

It has only been recently that I have begun to understand why he was right.

“But it’s better to rag on yourself than other people.”

Okay, instead of trying to dissect that logic, let’s just discuss why you shouldn’t hate yourself, regardless of how bad it is relative to other things, because that is just not relevant.

Why not hate yourself? Because hating yourself is an exercise of the ego. Don’t believe me? Let’s think about it.

Why do we hate ourselves? From my understanding, we hate ourselves because we think that we are extraordinarily deficient in one or more areas. That’s the root of the thing, right? We may think that we’re the meanest, the stupidest, or the awkwardest person who has ever walked the earth. Of course, that’s a very simplistic way of putting it. It sounds so silly when you put it that way. I’m glad I put it that way.

To imagine that you’ve reached a new level of humiliation or immorality is, in a way, arrogant. Don’t we know that there is virtually nothing that we can do that hasn’t been done before, in one form or another? 

Hating yourself is just a hair away from being in love with yourself. This too is contradictory, but true, I believe. The simple fact is, it is really hard to hate yourself all the time. At a certain point, we would lose the will to live. Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can be in such a dark place that you are able to despise every fibre of your being at virtually all hours of the day. If you are in that dark place, I’m not sure if I could say anything to make it better. I would leave that to God and His rich love. 

From my experience, after a long day of hating myself, I may be inclined to fall in love with myself a little too much just to balance things out. If hating yourself is caused by an exaggeration of your faults, then wouldn’t you think that a person who hates himself/herself could find it easy to also exaggerate their virtues or “redeeming qualities.” If you think you’re a weirdo, don’t you also think that you’re going to make up for it, one fine day, by being recognized for whatever awesome thing it is that you do? Tell me I’m wrong!

Don’t we see? Self-loathing isn’t just self-loathing, it is self-importance. It is the belief that we are capable of BIG things, whether bad (self-loathing) or good (self-loving). But don’t be depressed! I’m not telling you that you are not capable of big things. I do think that we are all extraordinary. I’m just saying that we must be very careful not to fall into pride. 

You are not nothing, contrary to what you may have been told or what you may tell yourself in your heart. You may even make the world a better place, but I wouldn’t expect to get any credit for it. 

Maybe in some ways we aren’t as extraordinary as we believe we are, while at the same time, we simply have no concept of the extent of our uniqueness.

A closing exhortation: “Stop ragging on yourself!”

 

 

 

 

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Romans Rapid-Fire Key Verses

If you haven’t read Romans, I would strongly encourage you to. Even if you have read it, it couldn’t hurt to read it again. This is actually my second time reading it, but I feel like the first time I didn’t get all that I should have gotten from it. I was too young and naive. especially recommend the Recovery Version. There’s so many little nuances and details that I’m sure you’ll discover new spiritual gems even if you’ve read it over before. 

Romans 12:2
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.[b]

You don’t have to go with the flow or get with the times. Sin is still sin, no matter what people in reality shows are doing. 

Romans 12:3
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Amen to that! In our world of inflated egos and self-gratification, this is a breath of fresh air. Look at the last part. Did you ever notice that before? Our faith doesn’t even come from us. Our faith in God is also through God. Doesn’t that just burst your bubble? All of us who think we’re so wonderful and pious for believing in God? It’s not even us!

Romans 13:14
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

“Make no provision for the flesh.” That’s pretty tough. Don’t we always make provision for the flesh? We think that by allowing small divergences every once in a while, we are preventing some kind of explosion of sin. So we make provisions. The only problem is, God doesn’t just want us to have an outward appearance of righteousness, ie. “not doing anything realllyy bad.” He wants us to learn to hate sin, even sins that seem are tolerated in the eyes of the world.

This next one requires some more context. Paul is talking about how we should not judge each other based on food, or allow petty things to create unGodly tension.

Romans 14

4 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

23 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;[l] for whatever does not proceed from faith[m] is sin.[n]

I hardly remember the last food choice that I didn’t have a few doubts about. Clearly, this is not a good sign. 

If you want to eat that bucket of twice deep fried chicken wings, apparently you can if you have faith. Or is there a statute of limitations? I really hope not, I like wings.

Everything that we do should be out of faith. That is what this verse is saying. I suppose faith can include believing that your body can digest meat. If you eat meat. If not, then that’s not a problem either. 

Maybe you could misinterpret this verse, thinking that you can do whatever you want as long as you “have faith.” But let me bring up two important points before you confuse yourself. 1. This verse seems to be talking only about food. Although I could very well be wrong, so maybe just forget this point. 2. If you are doing something that you know to be wrong out of faith… is that really faith? You can remember point 2.

Well, that’s all. Hope this was enlightening. God Bless!

 

 

 

 

A Figurative Pitstop

In my quest to find out what good Christian fiction is and how to do it, I came across a beloved kid’s book called, “A Wrinkle in Time.” I decided to give it a shot. Whatever it is, it’s got to be better than some of the other stuff that’s being marketed nowadays. I mean that in the nicest way possible. The joke’s really on me, it’s not like I figured out how to get published.

“It was a dark and stormy night” is the very first line. So that’s where the old cliche comes from, I think to myself while cringing a little. I am wondering if it’s possible for me to get my four dollars back from Amazon.

This is not the only cliche used in the book. But I do not, by any means, take back what I said about it being better than a lot of OJ pulp I’ve read. Sure, it’s a kid’s book, but there’s still something to be learned from it. It’s not like what I’m writing just oozes sophistication anyway.

It’s not the writing that I question. All that it “lacks” is lacking necessarily, because it’s for kids. The characters are believable, the settings imaginative, and the ideas packaged in such a way that they seem original. Meg is a favorite misunderstood outcast. And Charles Wallace is simply a delight.

I only question the “Christian” designation. At times it seems Christian. It certainly quotes enough Bible verses. But the overall theme seems to be more leaning towards some kind of humanism. The classic and worn good vs. evil battle. Yawn.

So I suppose I’m a little disappointed. Who can even tell what’s Christian fiction and what isn’t? Where’s the market? Fellow writers- it looks like we have work to do.

Romans 10- The Answer to Romans 9

Yesterday, I was having a small scale panic attack in response to some verses in Romans 9.

21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

I was freaking out because I didn’t understand why God would create people to be destroyed. But then I read Romans 10:

6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

I suppose God anticipated my question. I really shouldn’t be all that surprised.

Romans 10:6-7 is saying, “Hey, human get off your high horse! It’s none of your business who goes to heaven and who doesn’t.”

And here’s what we were all waiting for. We’re still in Romans 10, NRSV:

9 because[b] if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

I still don’t know all the answers. But I do know that God is merciful. I know that He saved me, and I was a sinner. I think that is the main message, and the technicalities that Paul brings up are only supposed to support that message. Just because it doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense. Apparently financial accounting doesn’t make that much sense to me either, but it is a “thing” after all.

You can call it a copout to admit ignorance. But is it really? Do you want to be responsible for the fate of souls? Do you really think you can handle that responsibility, make those judgment calls?

I am relieved that I don’t.

Newsflash! Man is not the center of the universe.

You had to hear it sooner or later.

Questioning Authority… Again

It’s a bit of a habit of mine, and it applies to both earthly superiors and God.

It was the poet Xenophanes, I believe, who brought up the irony of gods- that they look like people. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? We want gods to be like superhero versions of us, because we are arrogant. it’s still true today. Even those of us who are Christians, who supposedly “know better,” we too like to imagine that God is a certain way so we can sleep at night. And when He doesn’t fit our mold, we may want to rebel. 

Romans is a confusing book. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it will make you think. No bobble-head-Jesus theology here. Just so we’re all clear, I don’t feel like blogging only about the things that everyone agrees on. I don’t see why we, as Christians, gloss over most of the Bible because what it says confuses or scares us. If we really believe that it is the Word, then I think we should make it our business to find out what it really means. Even if we’re not always successful. Let’s not be shy! Let’s talk about things. Let’s talk about things like judgment, adultery, rape, genocide, homosexuality, socialism. At least sometimes. But let’s not condemn each other in the process.

Check it out:

19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

-Romans 9:19-25

Okay, so the first part of this may not seem that objectionable. Verses 19-20, I’m tracking, “Okay, fair enough, good, right, amen to that.” And then verses 21-22. At this point, I’m more than a little indignant. I’m pretty mad at God, mad at Paul too. How could He? Sure, I acknowledge that He has the power to do what He wants, and the right to do what He wants… But why, why would He EVER make people who were meant to be destroyed? Wasn’t it their choice to rebel and be destroyed? What is this predestination or something?! Is this the same God who sent His son to die for us? The same One who gave “The Great Commission?” 

Who am I? Who are You, God? I thought I knew You. Why should I listen you You ever again if You’re going to be so unjust?

Before I have a cow right here on the internet, I think I should throw in two observations. Observation: Paul is being hypothetical. You can see that. But why would he be purely hypothetical? Does it mean that God didn’t create people to be destroyed to show His glory? Why would Paul say it like that if it wasn’t true?

Observation 2: He could be referring back to the Old Testament human-God relations in order to make a larger point. But even if God only did this in the past to people like the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites… I still don’t quite get it.

This is a subject of personal importance for me. I say that because I know people who are not Christian, obviously, but these people often strengthen my faith. I know that sounds weird, but it seems like the more they oppose God and the more i watch them living for all the wrong things, the more I realize just how real God is. I know it sounds like shallow faith. Anyways, how it relates to this verse is this: I suppose I would feel kind of bad if people were being condemned just for my benefit. Just so I could see how great God is.

God, do you really think that people are so expendable? I always thought that anyone could be a child of God. Sure it takes faith, but I don’t understand why people need to be condemned at birth. 

Can someone help? Am I looking at this in all the wrong way? 

Perhaps I am being a little arrogant by dictating what God should be like and what He should do with Himself. I know that allowing this to plague me is not demonstrating trust in God. But I would like to understand what’s going on very badly. I can’t be the only one who’s ever wondered about this.

I suppose a closing remark is in order. I don’t want to conclude that God doesn’t exist and it’s every man for himself. Even though God knows who’s going to be saved and who’s not, we don’t. So that kills some of the arrogance and laziness that can spring from predestination. We don’t know. And that’s why we must preach the Gospel to the world. On that note, I sign off. 

 

 

 

 

 

In Case You Were Interested

Good news! I’m not getting expelled! Which I thought was highly unlikely anyway. Past disappointments teach us, over the years, to consider worse case scenarios and then proceed to agonize over them. I don’t know how to stop myself from agonizing over them, even though, in my heart, I know that it is fruitless. I suppose it just takes practice.

So the professor thinks I’m a freak, that’s a given. Will I ever be getting any letters of recommendation from him? No! Is my new fear to meet him walking down the path? Absolutely! Is my career still ruined? Possibly! Does it matter? No…

The important thing is that he doesn’t care that “I think I cheated.” Man, I feel like Spongebob in that one episode where he puts the walkie-talkie in his hat. Anyone know what I’m talking about? 

He doesn’t care! And he’s giving me a C! I was going to leave it at that, but I did send out a last ditch email to the TA’s. For what it’s worth. 

Good enough for me. My parents won’t be eating me for getting expelled from college. Yet.

Well, that’s all. In case you read my last frantic post

 

Lilies of the Field

I was inspired this morning to blog about something, which, at the time, seemed very stimulating and theologically involved. But, unfortunately, life has gotten in the way. I don’t even feel that I am worthy of the noble thoughts that I planned on posting for today. So instead, I will talk about something that’s been on my mind, plaguing me and robbing me of my joy. Hopefully if I splash it out onto virtual paper it will help, or not, I suppose.

I try not to bore anyone who reads this blog with the annoying details of my life, but it may be inevitable as I am explaining myself. I apologize in advance.

I feel that my career has already gotten off to a rocky start, even though it has not even started. If I were to phrase it a little more melodramatically, I would say, “My life is ruined!” That’s kind of how I feel right now.

Let me go back in time so you can understand. This will be brief. The first midterm for my financial accounting class (which “assumes no prior knowledge of accounting”), I… Well, I’ll say what I didn’t do instead. I didn’t write all the answers on my hand or my water bottle. It was an open-book partnered test after all. Sounds easy right? It actually wasn’t. I have never been a believer in cheating, but let’s put it this way, I didn’t follow the directions of the test to the tee. It just sort of happened, but I felt really bad about it afterward. The funny thing is, I would consider myself an honest person. By nature, not by choice necessarily. I couldn’t lie straight to save my life.

But apparently, during accounting tests, I lose my mind a little. Especially the final, which was so hard and stressful that I wanted to cry. And I usually don’t get test anxiety.You’ll have to take my word for it.

It was in this frenzy that I may have bent the test rules again. Let the judgment begin.

This accounting class has been the weirdest academic experience of my life. Here’s another interesting thing. The TA’s didn’t even give me a score for one of my midterms. The other midterm, not the questionable one. So I emailed the professor. Long story short, this has become a real headache. An annoying misunderstanding, but I wonder if it was meant to be. Is this my just desserts for technically cheating? I am afraid so. WIth the D on my transcript and some weirdness between me and this professor, who I highly doubt is ever going to help me get internships now, some questions come up. Do I deserve the D? Should I insist upon the D? Should I try to explain myself to the professor and fess up to my seemingly inconsequential missteps? Should I be an accountant at all? Surely this is a sign from God that it was not meant to be. Though I may have thought my intentions were pure going into those tests, well, maybe they weren’t. Perhaps I was doing it for the financial security in uncertain times, or the legendary accounting party/conferences where scotch and Coca Cola flow like water.
I’m in kind of a rough spot. If they raise my grade, I’ll feel like I don’t deserve it. If they don’t raise my grade, I imagine that I can pretty much say goodbye to any internship possibilities that may have existed. And do I really deserve a D?

I prayed that the fair thing would happen. But I still have an uneasy feeling inside. I’m kind of hoping at this point that they won’t raise my grade.

I thought I knew myself. I thought that I was smart. I thought that I was honest. I thought I had a bright future ahead. And now, thinking ahead makes me cringe. It’s all so muddled out there. Maybe it’s better that way.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. But I think I’ll take it one step at a time. Maybe I will try to explain myself to my professor. What’s the worst that can happen? He already thinks I’m incompetent, and I already have a D. Though I suppose I could get an F, or an expulsion. But isn’t it better to burn earthly bridges than spiritual ones? In fact, I just emailed the professor. Thank you blogging for leading me to a decision. Lord, please bring peace to my heart.

To close, here is a very relevant Bible verse:
Matthew 6:28-30
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?