Friday, March 11, 2016

Love Yourself Like Lucille Did - More Social Media Wisdom

One of the prevalent themes of our age is the notion of loving yourself.  You just ain't cool if you don't, and if you don't you'll be encouraged to... incessantly.  In a sense, I can understand why this is promoted as a cure-all for healthy living.  People do seem to commonly struggle with all kinds of self-loathing, self-destructive behaviors, and body-image issues, just to name a few things. 

But I wager that these problems are largely what you get when you live in a culture that treats pride as a virtue and elevates the individual to such a high level.  When everything is supposed to be about you, your rights, how good you look, what you were supposed to get but didn't get, when we idolize things like fame and physical beauty and getting attention and personal happiness, is it any wonder we are suffering the ill-effects of so many broken relationships and so much self-preoccupation?  This is not to suggest that we are purely the product of our culture, but there is definitely something destructive in the human heart that is drawn out by the idols of our society.

God's Word shows us that self-hatred is the sister to self-adoration.  They are two sides of the same coin of self-preoccupation, of pride.  The self-focus and self-elevation that we believe will help us and make us happy heaps an impossible burden upon us that we were never meant to bear.  It is exhausting trying to fill a black hole.  I posit gently that self-loathing and so many related things are the result of a fallen heart seeking to navigate a sinful and often cruel world on its own, self-reliantly, disconnected from God.  While pretty much all of us could trace our problem back to some previous wound (a wound that may indeed be very serious and very real), we only feed into the problem when suggest that the solution is also self-reliant, man-made, and involves focusing more on ourselves.

Here's one example I will give to illustrate.  It is suggested often that "you cannot love others until you love yourself."  In fact, it is suggested so often that it is taken as gospel.  But could it be that the real inhibitor to loving others is that, beneath our apparent lack of self-love, we are actually very painfully stuck on ourselves and whatever wounds we are carrying?  What if those things that plague you about yourself didn't matter so much because you were taken out of yourself -enraptured with the beauty of God, enamored by His grace and forgiveness toward you, and eager to think instead of others and how you can serve them?  I cannot think of a more wonderful and load-lightening thing than being free of the need to focus on yourself.

God's Word does not shy away from recognizing things like pain, abuse, oppression, and loss, which are all sadly a very real part of living in a fallen world, but it gives us a different direction, a different starting point or focus from which a good life can spring:

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov 1:7)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths." (Prov 3:3-6)

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