Posted by: New in Every Way | August 29, 2012

I Know You and I Still Love You

~~  Removing Roadblocks to a Healthy Self  ~~ How Real Life Connects with the Bible

 “For a person who is supposed to be so smart, you sure can be dumb!” a person (whom I shall not name) once said to me. Boy, I was bugged. More like infuriated! So much so, that I had to wonder why it bothered me so much. . . . I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that I wanted everyone to be so in awe of my good qualities they didn’t even notice my faults. Why? Because having faults was not acceptable in the legalistic religious culture I grew up in. Authority figures—who actually did love me—felt obligated to pour on the guilt to help me “shape up.” So I didn’t exactly feel the love. Do you get my drift?

That’s why I really like a story about a person who—like me—needed people to be in awe of him because of his good qualities. “Matt” is a highly personable guy who has never had any lack of friends. He also is so intelligent he excels in every field he walks into, with little previous training or background. All of this, plus the fact that he was his mother’s favorite son, caused Matt to expect to be idolized by everyone he met.

After the break-up of Matt’s first marriage, he transferred to a metropolitan area. The interior decorator for his new house, his neighbor, and several other women took a great interest in him. Then he transferred again, and met “Sandra”—a no-nonsense woman. Taking note of Matt’s inflated self-concept, Sandra dubbed him “Joseph” after the classical favorite-son story in the Bible. Matt was not amused! He  also did not appreciate it when Sandra teased him with: “I know you better than all those other women—and I still love you.”

But gradually, Matt relaxed. He didn’t have to hide the things he was not proud of under a cloak of “I’m awesome.” He didn’t have to impress her. She already liked him—just the way he was.

Matt’s first brand of self-love was imitation-love. He puffed up his best traits to downplay his self-doubt. It only gave him conditional self-love. It only worked if he could ignore his weaknesses. Real love is unconditional—like God’s love for us:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV).

We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him (Romans 5:7-8 MSG).

Making It Personal

  • Do you feel good about yourself when you are at your best? Of course! That’s a good thing.
  • Is your self-acceptance a surface thing or is it solid to the core (as in, being patient with yourself when you’re not doing so well)?
  • What will you tell yourself today to displace some self-doubt with self-acceptance?

Does accepting yourself in spite of your faults mean that you don’t care about becoming a better person? Let’s talk about that next Wednesday.

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