Do You Love Yourself, Flaws and All?


The other day I was listening to a teaching from my good buddy Mark Wallace. He told a story about an experiment where people were asked to describe themselves to a criminal sketch artist. Then, those same folks were also described to the sketch artist by their friends. Amazingly, the friends’ description of the person looked much more like the person than their own description! Why, you ask? Because when people described themselves they overly focused on their perceived flaws, resulting in an image not even close to how they really looked. So the question that begs is, do you love yourself, flaws and all?

People tend to be brutal in their own estimation of themselves. They have been caught up in a culture that falsely represents who people are and as such have been talked into focusing on everything they are not instead of everything they truly are. They have forgone any recognition of all that makes them unique and wonderful in favor of an obsession with having to be something the world deems acceptable or beautiful or admirable. They magnify their “wrong behaviors” out of all proportion in comparison to their “right behaviors.”  In short, they have believed lies and accusations concerning themselves; failed to recognize them as such, and landed at a place where they don’t even like themselves much less love themselves.

The root of this dilemma stems back as far as there have been people to trip up. The enemy of mankind knows that if you can divide people against themselves, they become weak and easy to defeat. If you can progress deep enough into their psyche they eventually become their own worst enemy hurling internal insults at their own selves and perpetually shaming themselves, the end point of which is self-loathing and a complete loss of self-respect. Oh no-one is going to tell you this, much less admit it to themselves. But, it is a distinct reality of the human condition. There’s so little love in the world because people don’t even love themselves. Or worse, love does not prevail because people have a distorted view of what love is. They think love and self-respect accompany financial success or having a “perfect” body, marrying the right person or getting into the right school. They wrongly assign love worthy acts as something they must do or be in order to be worthy of love. And, in never being able to fully realize those love worthy acts or become, by their good behavior, love worthy people, they eek out love to themselves as if it was a scarce commodity.

Loving yourself is a decision you make about yourself in the same way it is a decision you make about other people. When you have a new baby, no-one has to remind you to love them. When you meet a potential life partner, though you hardly recognize it, you have made a conscious decision to love that person. You didn’t “fall” in love, you chose love based upon certain criteria you already decided. In the same way, you make a decision to love yourself! You cannot say, as some falsely report, that you choose love as long as the behaviors are right or the conditions are right or the time is right. Love, real love, exists above behaviors. It is not fleeting, flitting around based on whether or not the sun is out or the vibe feels good or if that certain someone says the right things. Love is so much bigger and so much more important than that! Love is the most necessary ingredient of the human condition and you need it more than anything else you could ever need!

Do you know where I learned this? I learned it from God. God loves me unconditionally, past, present and future. He loved me into finally loving myself. He continues to love me despite me and for that I am forever grateful. He taught me that love isn’t something you reserve for good behavior, but rather something you decide to do no matter what. Love does not change and alter itself according to the ebb and flow of life. It is not dependent upon conditions. It is persistent and determined and never ending. It is to be freely and liberally shared with others. In so doing, it finally persuades your stubborn heart to apply it to yourself; to love yourself!

You must learn to love yourself, not in a conceited or inflated way, but in the true depths of your being. You decide to love yourself, not because you are so good or so righteous or somehow have achieved perfection, but rather because you are imperfect and not always good and maybe seldom of your own works, righteous. You love yourself despite your frail humanity and weakness. You love yourself even when you falter and fail. You love yourself because your Father in heaven loves you and wants nothing less for you…ever!

You would be surprised to find that the weird stuff you do and think is the exact same weird stuff we all do and think. We are all in this thing together. Your secret sins are no worse than my secret sins. Your propensity towards error is no greater than my propensity towards error. We are all people, wonderfully flawed and unique, seeking in unending revolutions, endless expressions of love. Be yourself! Express yourself. Love yourself, not because you deserve it but rather because you need it. No-one is worthy of love as love chooses its object first and not after.

Decide today to stop entertaining the accusations about everything you are not. Stop focusing in on what isn’t right about you or what things you foolishly have concluded need revision. Instead embrace who you are; who God made YOU to be and give every bit of that loveliness to a love starved and dying world. You are a wonderful, unique masterpiece formed, made and created by God to help other people love themselves too!

Oh my friends, God is love…

Just some good thoughts…

 

The Self-Made Man!


self-made-man-sheila-kay-mcintyreThere’s a lot of rabble nowadays about the self-made man and how you have to live life on your own terms and the like! And though you may be overwhelmed with abilities and skills and knowledge, you’re going to struggle to win at life. Sure, you will have plenty to feel good about, but in the end you are going to come up short and have paid a hefty price. You weren’t designed to be self-made, but instead heavily aided and favored. Your self just aint big enough to bring it home.

Life, if you follow the pattern, is rather consistent. You start out in life completely dependent upon your parents. As you grow and learn that dependence diminishes yet you still need assistance from those who have walked the path before you. And now, in adulthood, you long for those times when you lived a carefree life and didn’t bother to stress about the future, nor could even see a reason why. In your innocency you simply trusted that what you need would be supplied and you were rarely disappointed. People who grew up poor seldom recognize it until someone informs them later on. In short, you were happy and you were free.

Then, the wheel of things sort of got to you. Though you vowed otherwise, you stepped onto the treadmill with its lofty requirements and standards. You honorably, yet foolishly took full responsibility for your life with its associated expectation of being able to solve every problem. And though it cost you your health and your youthfulness and worse, your peace of mind, you forged ahead. Someone told someone who told someone a thousand removed that this is how life works. You’re an adult now, so put on your big boy pants and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and get ‘er done! Thus the way of a man became etched in stone.

But, what if it really wasn’t true? What if the pattern you began with was the pattern you were to continue with for a lifetime? What if life wasn’t supposed to be so damn hard and demanding and impossible? What if there was an easier way, though no-one as of yet had clued you in? Well, consider this your first glimpse of a better way to live. Maybe you were SUPPOSED to transfer your dependence on your parents onto your Heavenly Papa? Maybe the framework you mastered, where you had a need and lovingly requested it be filled, and it was fulfilled, was to continue throughout your whole life? You see, your parents were responsible to teach you about God, but they couldn’t because no-one taught them and no-one taught them. And if they did get taught, they were persuaded of some impossible standard required by an impossible God in an impossible way. They were convinced that life with God was hard-wrought and absent enjoyment or pleasure or fun. And, rightfully they rejected it and refused to pass it along to you. So you absent any wrong teaching might have a chance still to know. And, He remains there still, for you.

God designed life as a partnership. He has a part and you have a part. And His part is a helluva of a lot more than emergencies, deathbeds and catastrophes. Further it isn’t His part to sit in perpetual judgment of you or to be constantly disappointed with you or unendingly ashamed of you. He knows all about you well in advance including every error, every misstep and every looney tunes thing you ever did. His expectation for you isn’t moral perfection, it is an expectation that you perform your part of the partnership and allow Him to perform His! His part is to make you righteous in His sight and your part is to accept it. His part is to supply your every need and your part is to believe it. His part is to do ALL of the things you cannot do for yourself and your part is to do the things you can! Life worked in this manner puts the spring back in your step. You finally unload the heavy, heavy burdens that come with being the party of the first part and the party of the second part and the party of the third part. You reorganize and realign and reprioritize your partnership and take back what you were supposed to take back and turn over all the damn rest!

The way of man absent God throughout all centuries has been a hard life with man and his finite possibilities ever trying to produce infinite and lasting results. He fights, as it were, with an immense handicap in that he cannot prevail against an opponent he cannot see. And in thinking he can see, spends a lifetime chasing effects with indiscernable causes. Oh, but if he could see the causes. Oh, but if he could get back to the proper administration of his partnership. Oh, but if he would only reach upward instead of inward! Great life changing assistance is always there from his Partner, ever waiting for His man to simply ask…

Your life, your one frightfully short go round is not time enough to begin seeking and searching and requesting. You’ve spent time infinitum in futility pressing one step forward and three steps back. You have proven beyond doubt your own inability and feebleness and have come up short enough, despite your very best efforts, to finally recognize your self-made way is deficient and arduous and wrong. Stop living that way today! Get off your high horse and release your hard-fought high ground long enough to experience a different way; a way where you get all you ever wanted without paying too high a price. Yet stand head held high, proudly accomplishing and questing, while seeking ever upward and beyond your earthbound limitations. All that you ever dreamed to be, God dreamed to be before you, and waits like a father waits for Christmas to give you all that He can. Do your job and learn how to receive it, thankfully and graciously.

You are not old enough to be too old to ask your Daddy to give you what you need. Be a God-made man and see if your life doesn’t become all that you ever wanted it to be. You can have it if you want it. Just ask…

Just some good thoughts…

Making Your Mind a Friend…


Different emotionsYears ago I wrote a book called, “Making Your Mind a Friend.” It was an amateurish project at best, but at the time I penned it, it helped save me from a world of suffering; suffering mostly self-imposed by wrong thought with a heavy, heavy dose of religious bondage. Somehow, in some imperceptible way, I had morphed (or had been morphed) into everything I hated in life. I became sickly religious and when you get religious enough, everything you do or say or feel will be wrong. It’s wrong because you have set up for yourself an impossible standard. And, before you know it, your worst, most pervasive enemy will be your very own mind. Thus, making your mind a friend isn’t about splitting yourself into two separate entities and having positive dialogue with each part. It’s about learning to extend kindness and forgiveness and friendliness to your own self in the same way you might extend it to your friend.

I remember years ago when my brother had agreed to watch our boys. When we picked them up he explained incredulously, that one of them was throwing rocks in the road and when he told him to stop, he threw another one! He couldn’t understand how that could happen. Of course, he didn’t have his own children yet. He now knows that disobedience happens but it is the parent’s job to correct it. So here’s a thought. Disobedience happens with adults also. But, just like when you correct a child, no matter how satisfying the chastisement feels, all a parent is really after is an acknowledgement from the child that they did something wrong. There’s rarely much to say after the apology occurs.

How many of you have spent years and years chastising yourself for some event that has long since expired? It’s gone from life and is in the books. It only shows up again when you re-read the book. Stop re-reading the book! The things you do wrong and have done wrong were committed to the history book just as quickly as they happened. They are no longer a part of your life unless you allow them to be. The egregious errors, the scarring hurts, the bruising slights all have vanished from the present reality. You make your mind a friend by not subjecting your friend to the same old, tired story. Like your friend who might tell you it’s time to get over it, it’s time to get over it. You don’t magically transform bad behaviors by punishing yourself, you know that! You transform yourself the same way your child transforms, by receiving your forgiveness. And don’t you think for a second that God is bringing it up. God forgave you the FIRST time you were sorry. You have to “accept” His forgiveness also. Beyond that it’s all a bunch of egotism and you can take that to the bank!

Once I heard a father say how dumb his kid was and that he didn’t think his elevator went all the way to the top. How sad is that? To think that a father would say that about his own flesh and blood, astounded me. All I could think was, he’s your own kid! What the eff is the matter with you? Your child will be about as smart and talented and good as you can teach him he can be. You, horrible father, are outrageously defining his limit. Now as bad as I guess that made you feel, how about the things you say to yourself? Would you so easily tell your good friend that he was an idiot? Would you be so quick to focus on and point out his every weakness and fault? Oh sure you would see both, but out of love you wouldn’t bring them up, would you? Do you know anyone on earth that gets better at something after repeatedly being told he sucks at it? Weakness is never overcome by focusing on the weakness. You win at life by focusing on your strengths; what you can do the best! Strength is built from strength! All you accomplish by acquiescing to an endless stream of negative chatter about yourself is to weaken and severely limit your true capabilities. And, the worst part? You are saying those things to yourself! You aren’t just being honest! You are treating yourself like an enemy and not a friend. If you don’t love you, who does? Well, God does and He disagrees with your estimation of yourself. Again, beyond that, it’s all just a bunch of egotism…and your insistence on self harm.

Making your mind a friend is about choosing what you will and will not think about and choosing what you will and will not say to yourself. Your mind is your mind and you may use it in whatever fashion you see fit. You may say, “I can’t stop thinking about it!” But, oh yes you can! Like a lifelong smoker, the longer you’ve been engaged in the habit, the harder it is going to be to stop. The new non-smoker has to say ‘no’ to himself one hundred times a day at first, but the next day may only require seventy-five. Eventually the thought comes up ever so rarely. The same with negative talk and condemnation, once you break the habit, it happens less and less. And like the smoker that quit, you brighten your prospects for a long, happy, successful life.

At the end of the day, you my dear friend, are the only you, you’ve got! And, like your heart would seek in earnest to console your sad, defeated child, you must learn to be good to yourself. You aren’t serving God by behaving that way, no matter what some preacher may have told you, you are serving your enemy by your refusal to believe what God has already said. You aren’t the evil one, but you just may have been listening to him. Be kind with yourself. Be forgiving with yourself. Learn to accept your imperfections and just be. It’s okay. God knows all about you and loves you anyway!

Just some good thoughts…