I have this friend. I hate him.
Hate is a strong word. My parents used to tell me not to use it — they preferred “dislike.” However, this guy is worthy of the strength the word “hate” brings.
I’ve known this guy a long time. Grew up with him practically. And I have had patience with him, praying he’ll get better, hoping against all hope that he’ll become bearable one day. But it hasn’t happened yet.
I think that’s what I hate most about this man, too: he never gets better.
I mean, I can handle his annoying habits — he’s way too touchy-feely at times and makes the worst jokes. I can ignore those, and I can even handle his ignorance. He thinks he’s smart because he graduated with high GPA’s, but I know it’s simply because he had easy classes and an easy major.
But it’s the fact that this guy doesn’t ever change. I have waited YEARS for him to get better. I have prayed since before I was even a Christian that he would change. And still nothing!
I mean, he has changed — but not for the better. It’s as if every time he “grows up,” he finds a new way to be an idiot. No matter what, he is always making the worst decisions and not realizing it. He’s a terrible person, and I wish others saw him the same way.
That’s the other part I hate almost as much as his inability to change — people like him. He’s personable, at least on the outside anyway. People get along with him and think they know him. But they don’t. Very few actually do know him; I’m one of the “privileged” ones.
But you know what makes all this worse? Because it is possible for this to be worse.
The man I hate the most is me.
I hate myself. I hate myself more than anybody could ever imagine. I’ve always hated myself and everything about myself. I hate the way I look. I hate my body. I hate my personality. I hate my strengths and my weaknesses. I hate absolutely everything about myself. And I completely fake it around the entire world.
A few people know a little about this hatred I hold for myself. My wife is aware of it and doesn’t like it. If I ever mention how much I hate myself, she gets upset with me and tells me to stop. I’ll drop the subject, but the self-hatred won’t go away.
John might know better than my wife how I hate myself — probably why he’s stuck around through my craziness. No matter how I treat him, it’ll always be better than how I treat myself.
Otherwise, no one knows. Not even you, dear reader, can fully grasp the amount of my self-loathing.
Whenever I see myself, I see every mistake I have ever made. I see every pitfall, every blemish, every sin, every flaw. I see a horrible, wretched creature unworthy of any kindness.
Yet Jesus still loves me when I struggle to do so. And I don’t know why.
I mean, I know why. Seminary training can get me that far. But it still doesn’t make sense. It never will.
I know Jesus created me. I know He died for me. I know He will call me to heaven one day.
And I know He loves me.
I just wonder if I’ll ever be able to do the same.
Do you struggle with self-hatred? Do you tend to over-analyze yourself and what others think of you? Name three things you love about yourself in the comments below!
* Photo courtesy Jordan Flynn, Creative Commons.
I sure do suffer from a bad self-image and hate myself too many times to want to remember. Yes, I think a person who hates themselves is always thinking others think the worst and misinterprets what they say or do sometimes as something they’ve said or done to hurt oneself when it’s not so at all. I do that too often. Wow! Three things I love about myself? That’s quite hard because I’m pretty good at even twisting my good points into bad ones. Lol. So here goes: I’m kind; I have a sense of humour; I can teach.
Teachers and senses of humor are rare- definitely cherish those gifts, Jeremy!
Dean, you said, “Whenever I see myself, I see every mistake I have ever made. I see every pitfall, every blemish, every sin, every flaw. I see a horrible, wretched creature unworthy of any kindness.” I’ve felt like this for a long time now…for years actually. And it’s been so difficult to believe that Jesus loves me and that He can restore me from the muck of porn, masturbation, same-sex lust towards other guys, and being with another guy back in 2010 which gave me immense guilt and shame. I struggle with trying to be perfect. I’m a perfectionist and it’s been like that ever since I was in school always trying to reach straight A’s and whenever I didn’t I would beat myself up inside. If I mess up at my job I beat myself up inside. Whenever I mess up I beat myself up inside. I know that this is against the message of the Gospel which is Jesus will forgive any sin, that I’m not perfect, that I’m as sinful as sinful can be and that I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to clean myself up to come to Him for forgiveness and restoration.
Three things I love about myself! Can I think of one? How can I love myself when what I see is my ugly flesh! My lower nature everyday rears its ugly head and when I look in the mirror the face I see getting older by the minute! What’s to love? It reminds me of the poem by Francis Thompson: The Hound of Heaven and I quote a bit:
“Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?”
And so, only when I grasp that He loves me, can I even begin to love. But hey, to accept His love is the hardest. How dare He love terrible me! Why He does and why He even bothers with me is a mountain to climb for my thinking! I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t figure it out because His Love is like that — on a human level: incomprehensible! But when I abandon myself to Him I experience IT — His Love that changes me and lets me love Him back and my neighbor as well! And even to love me because He choose to live in me and He doesn’t live in junk…
Wow, Dean! WHY do you hate yourself?
Three things I love about myself: I’m caring; I’m humble: I’m generous, sometimes.
The WHY is its own series of posts to be honest… Too much to post here. Continue to be caring, naturgesetz.
Yeah…..you and I did take two different routes! But unlike these guys below who commented, who are trying to encourage you, build you up, and all that mushy stuff, I’m not gonna do that. Here’s what I’ll say. Yes, I’ve been through that, and again, you and I took two different routes! But dude, if you need to vent, you have this website! Or you have us, “the brothers,” to talk to. I for one, will listen. But you know what you must do! You’re a smart man, and I know you can figure it out. I’m not gonna explain it because I bet you’ve heard it a million times. You do what you need to do.
I don’t know if I used to really hate myself or not, but I had no confidence at all. I had an inferiority/superiority complex big-time. I used to hate my face.
But that’s all changed. The Lord did a big work in my heart and mind and turned me around.
Three things I love about myself? Just three? Hmm… Well, considering how much I used to hate my face, I can now confidently say that I love my body. All of it. I also love my personality. And, somewhat related, I love that I don’t easily fit into any clear category. I’m introverted and extroverted. I’m quiet and loud. I’m bookish and active. I’m a conundrum. This sounds like I’m self-absorbed, but I think there’s something powerful in giving up our own ideas of ourselves, whether inferior or superior, and looking at ourselves from God’s point of view, and simply accepting the truth of how we are. This is just the way I am. It’s the way God made me. He made my face, my body, my personality, everything about me. So I don’t feel ashamed in saying what I love about myself because I want to do it as a praise and thanksgiving to God for all that he has done. I couldn’t have come to this point on my own.
I wouldn’t say that I hate myself, tho I often feel like a failure if I think about it too much. One of my big revelations was that, despite selfishness and pride, I don’t really love myself. That always makes “love your neighbor as yourself” kind of weird for me. And like you mentioned, it makes it hard to understand why God loves me?
I most love my commitment to my friends. I also appreciate my intelligence and what artistic ability I have (though i deny them often in false humility).
Commitment to friends is huge- keep that up, Steven.
I have struggled with self-hatred almost my entire 55 years of life. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m actually addicted to self-hatred. I know in my head that I have worth and value but there is a block from that getting to my heart. I just can’t receive that where it will just reside and feel good. Whenever someone gives me an affirmation or if I feel it from God I push it away because it “hurts” too much. I struggle with comparing myself to other men who seem to “have it all” especially physically. Plus, I’m currently going through a divorce after being married for 30 years. The rejection from my wife has been very painful even though our marriage was difficult for most of the time. I also recently received prayer from a group of men and one of them said he felt like he “saw” that I have an expectation of rejection and he is absolutely right! Thanks, Dean, for sharing and being vulnerable.
I love that you posted this Dean because it helps us see we are not so unusual for our self-hatred. I always thought I was the king of self-hatred. I just couldn’t seem to get past it until one day, I took a personality test. It showed me that my personality wasn’t the only one like me. I’m and INFJ, the rarest kind of personality and it made sense why I felt so different; it’s because I am! It pointed out all of the wonderful things about me and why they are so necessary for balancing out the rest of the world who needs more characteristics like mine. Then, I read “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine N. Aaron not long after that. I learned that I’m EXTREMELY sensitive in every way and I always hated that about myself; extreme shame. I once again saw all of the benefits of my personality and also accepted that I can’t compete with the rest of the less sensitive world. I had different limitations and I had to learn to live within them. I am SO much happier now and I decided to find more INFJ’s who are highly sensitive. I have such amazing friendships with them and we get each other so much. Luckily for me though, my Church is an INFJ magnet. Oh, and like you, I’m both extroverted and introverted. The book “Quiet” calls that an ambivert. Throw that word around and see the looks you get. People accuse me of making up the word all the time! LOL!
Being one who is all too familiar with self-loathing, Dean, I caught it very early into your posting.
After I read this line, “I think that’s what I hate most about this man, too: he never gets better,” I actually paused reading and said to myself, he’s talking about himself!
Two things I’ve often had to re-remind myself, regarding this issue…
1. Failing to forgive myself, or to even extend a little of God’s grace to myself, is actually a subtle form of sinfil pride that says, “Christ’s work on the cross was not sufficient enough for me… I’m a special case.”
and, 2. If I refuse to love myself well, then I also fail to love other people well, in disobedience to Christ’s command:
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
– Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31
There’s good reason why Jesus didn’t command us to love our neighbor “more” than we love ourselves, and only “as” we love ourselves… It’s because it’s impossible to love someone else “more” than we are willing to love ourselves!
That is why it is imperative to learn to put down our subtle pride of self-loathing, and actually love ourselves well…
Loving other people “well” depends on it!
Godspeed, fellow Dean!
Ah, yes, I am familiar with that verse. I had a mentor point out this to me and I have wrestled with it since. You are so right that, should we desire to love others, we have to love ourselves. I pray you continue to grow in this, fellow Dean. God bless on your journey to love yourself and others!
Ok, this is a really old post but it showed up as a suggested link on the new post. Was passing this along to a friend, in the battle against self-hatred and those inner voices of accusation we too often listen to, the intro to the song as well as the song fits.
That video was incredible. Thank you for sharing it with me as well. I pray your friend finds victory in a battle that I am all too familiar with.
I think we all kinda end up there if we’ve seen Jesus and keep looking at ourself.
This line is so true:
“How does it end when the war that you’re in
Is just you against you against you
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too”
Amazing! Thanks BH! I love when something is profound AND hilarious.
Andrew Peterson is one the best and truest out there. He’s been blessed with ability and perception and compassion
Yes, that is so clear in the video.