Christian Image Problems
Ok, friends. We need to talk.
Someone just made a comment that hurt my feelings. I can guarantee that wasn’t her intention, but nevertheless, I felt stung. I stewed about it a bit, and it didn’t take long for me to go skipping down a mental rabbit hole from, “My feelings were hurt,” to “Do I even have value?”
I’m a pro at chasing that dang rabbit, but I’m getting better at catching myself when those toxic thoughts come up. My recovery is quicker, which is excellent, but in this instance, right after I did the whole recovery thought process, something new popped into my mind.
I thought people who loved Jesus were different.
My shoulders dropped, and I felt sadness wash over me. I spent my whole life fighting against other people’s negative opinions and call me naïve, but I thought the Jesus crew would at least be kinder than everyone else. I mean, if you follow Jesus, isn’t that the job?
Since I have been following him and invested in relationships, taken risks, and offered my help, I’ve been cut down, Jesus-juked, rejected, invalidated, and made to feel awful.
So, tell me, what is the difference between Christians and everyone else?
I am confident some Jesus followers are out there nailing it (no pun intended), but I’m struggling to find them. What I am seeing is people who call themselves followers acting like they aren’t. I don’t know. Maybe they are accidentally following a minor prophet or something.
I could make a strong argument that if no one looks like they are doing it right, is our standard for what it means to be following Jesus wrong? What if following him looks different than everyone says or thinks?
What if following Jesus looks more like loving myself than being loved by others?
I’m the type of girl that takes the blame for other people’s reactions to me or my help or my ideas. It’s a learned behavior that ticks me off these days. Listen, if I’m wrong, I’ll say I am. But, if I am trying to do something nice, or right, or loving, whether I do it well or mess it up, and I come up against a lack of grace or kindness or love, that’s NOT ON ME.
I am no longer willing to accept the blame for other people’s non-Jesus choices, thoughts, or opinions. It’s not my job to become compliant with them. It’s my job to love myself, and that means to be myself, without apology.
Look, God created you and me on purpose for a purpose. That means that we have something to offer the world in a way no one else can. I believe this in the deepest parts of my soul.
Do you want help? I’m happy to jump in. Do you want some advice? I’ll do my best. Do you want to make me feel less than in ANY way? I’m walking.
I don’t know everything, but I do know that God commanded us to love one another and love each other as ourselves. For too long, women have forgotten that little “as ourselves” piece. Please hear me when I say this is not the fine print, friend.
We are commanded by God to love ourselves. Right there in black and white. (See: The Bible.)
So, if other people can’t love me in a way that doesn’t make me feel like crap, the question becomes can I love myself? Can you love yourself?
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that God didn’t just want us to love ourselves just cause. I think maybe loving ourselves is God’s way of helping us protect ourselves from hurt feelings.
I don’t know where you are today or who has let you down. I know you’ve been hurt. But I also know this: you matter. You are valuable. You are unique in a good way. The world needs what you have to offer.
Jesus knew the world needed what he had to offer and I it makes sense that his love for himself protected him from harsh and hurtful people. He knew it wasn’t personal, even when it seemed like it was. Loving himself and believing in his mission is what made him so remarkable. I think that is what made him such a stand out. It’s what made him bold, and ultimately, it’s what changed the world.
I admit I’ve been frustrated because modern-day disciples can still hurt my feelings. It makes me question both me and them. But it’s not about what is external.
Following Jesus is internal.
I can’t change them, but I can love me.
When we love ourselves, we are equipped to offer grace to others and to be bold in the pursuit of what God called us to do. Exactly as we are at this moment. And that is how we all begin to look more like Jesus.
Do you struggle with unapologetically loving yourself? What makes it so hard? How would your life change for the better if you just did it? I’d like to know. Keep the conversation going in the comments.