Phil Cox

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Relationship with Yourself

13th July 2006

This is the last of the three talks on relationships I was asked to give recently.

Your relationship with yourself is probably very different from your relationships with others or your relationship with God in this way; sometimes you’re indifferent about others, sometimes (if you’re honest) you’re indifferent about God, but not many of us are indifferent about ourselves.

Sometimes we may hate ourselves. All the time, we love ourselves. Yes – even when we hate ourselves.

When we hate ourselves, actually it’s often more like embarrassment or disappointment than true hatred. Have you got a relative or friend who seems to let themselves down with their behaviour or their attitude, and you cringe for them sometimes, wanting them to be the person you think they could and should be and hating their failures? That’s probably how you feel about yourself.

  • You wish you were more prayerful
  • You wish you were less shy
  • You wish you were more confident, more gifted, wiser
  • You wish you were less selfish, less bad-tempered
  • Whatever

If any of you are incredibly well-adjusted and can’t relate to this, I congratulate you.

It’s difficult not to want to be what you’re not. It’s said that every girl with straight hair wants to have curly hair, and every girl with curly hair wants to have straight hair, that every blond girl wants to be brunette and every brunette wants to be blond. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration – there must be one girl who’s curly and blond (or whatever) and happy with it. But most of us are unsatisfied with who we are – even down to our hair, or our height, or our accent (me), or something.

How we feel about ourselves is probably similar to how we feel about our bodies:

Ephesians 5:29
After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church

But you may well feel like you hate your body. You don’t. You love it. You love it so much that you want it to look and feel better than it does.

In the same way, you probably don’t hate yourself; you just yearn to be doing better than you are, more highly esteemed, more healthy in body, soul and spirit.

How many of us have had the experience of feeling like something is true about us but not about every other Christian we’ve ever met?

There’s even a strand of teaching that we ought not to love ourselves very much. Have you heard that JOY stands for “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last”? Do you know that it’s unbiblical? In fact, we’re called to love ourselves as much as we love others:

Matthew 22:35-40
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Remedies:

  • Don’t try to be someone else. It’s hard enough being you. It’s bloomin’ impossible being someone else.
  • Accept that Jesus loves you
  • Accept Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...”
  • Accept that, even when it feels true, you are not uniquely sinful, or ugly or useless. We’re all much the same, actually. If you feel uniquely hopeless, that is not God speaking, it’s not reason speaking. So who is it? Your enemy.

Love yourself as you love others – offer yourself the same forgiveness, the same number of times, the same tolerance, the same acceptance.