During our last healing service there were so many people coming forward for prayer we ran out of time! It makes me wonder if we should move our healing services to Friday Night Worship so we can spend the time needed to heal some of the deeper wounds we carry.
There’s one particular deep wound I see it so often I think it deserves attention here. I didn’t mention it during the healing service, yet the healing of this wound is a true breakthrough in the process of coming fully alive in Christ’s love. This wound is uniquely painful and often hard to dislodge. I am referring to self-hatred.
Have you ever messed up somehow and found yourself bitterly condemning yourself way out of proportion with your mistake? It’s as though a megaphone in your head amplifies your failure and broadcasts it ceaselessly to the rest of your body. This is an example of self-hatred, and it erodes one's self-worth until the pain settles in the soul and becomes depression. It also easily leads to addiction as we seek pleasure to anesthetize the pain it causes. Some of you, I’m glad to say, don’t know this experience. But when this kind of wound grips you, you struggle with the gnawing feeling of inadequacy which, when incited by a failure any sort, billows into full-blown self-hatred. For some this is a daily inner reality, relieved only by entertainment or the occasional personal achievement.
It would be more accurate to name this wound as the New Testament does: as a demon. It’s a destructive spirit that seeks a home in us and gets a grip of us if we allow it to. And the whispered message of this demon is simple but wrecking: “You are worthless”.
This demon adds to an already convoluted psychology behind self-hatred. For some it begins with the internalized message of worthlessness conveyed by a parent. Others receive that message from their society as it oppresses their social group. And paradoxically, the self-hatred can present itself as pride – an inflated sense of one’s abilities or prowess. Think of sports: the chest-beating braggart may appear free of self-hatred, but in actuality he is far from being at peace with himself.
We instinctively try to heal this pain with success. Success of any sort available to us, even if it’s immoral. But even if success alleviates the pain of self-hatred, it’s still the wrong game. Success can only lead to pride. Pride and self-hatred are two sides of the same coin: both result from the attempt to achieve our worth.
The grace of Jesus Christ is wholly different.
His grace enables us to admit that we are broken, miserable sinners without inciting our self-hatred. Why? Because we know we’re loved perfectly despite our sinfulness. Wow. Supernaturally and wonderfully, grace shifts the whole basis of our self-esteem from achieving our worth to receiving our worth. It’s a much firmer foundation.
Paul says it in Romans 5:1: Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As you read that you probably feel some peace. That peace is the beginning of a life healed from both self-hatred and pride.