Socially, self-loathing is almost a badge of belonging. Everyone hates something about ourselves, and our poor parents, no matter how long dead, are to blame.
Spiritually, it is a sign of holiness, the recognition of how amazing God is and how utterly amazing I'm not.
Self-loathing means we are normal, just like everyone else, and it shows we are self-aware, because we know how utterly completely pathetic we are. It is what makes us part of the collective, maybe even an elite part of the collective, or a collective of the elite.
Except, it's not biblical.
I have found nowhere in the Bible that says God wants me to hate myself. Think about it logically for a moment.
God is love.
God wants me to be like Him.
Therefore, God wants me to loathe myself. You know. The same self He loved so much that He put His Son on a cross for.
Oh, yeah, that makes sense. <insert eye roll and barely audible mutter, "Not.">
So where does the self-loathing come from? Simple. It comes from some voice, mine or someone else's, that declares me to be a failure.
I'm not the perfect student like my folks expect...or like my sibling is/was. Failure.
I don't get the lead role in the play. Failure.
I don't get into the USMC because of a knee injury. Failure.
I don't become a lawyer like Dad and Grandad and Great Grandad. Failure.
I don't ever own a Jaguar convertible. Failure.
I don't cook as well as dear old Mom. Failure.
Okay. So let's say I failed at all of those things. By definition, I'm a failure. However, I want to consider a different perspective.
What if I was never meant to succeed at those things? Does that make me a failure or someone trying different doors until I find the one for me?
Most people hate themselves for not being able to be what God never intended for them to be in the first place.
Instead of hating yourself for what you aren't, go to the One who made you and ask what you are.
I know a lot about failure.
I failed my physical to join the Marine Corps.
I failed to become a college basketball player.
I failed to have a very successful photography business.
I failed at my craft and quilt making business.
I failed to have a career as an internationally known journalist.
I failed to win a Tony for my performance on Broadway.
Wait. I failed to get on Broadway.
I failed to lose 30 pounds last year.
I failed at marriage.
Trust me. I know failure.
I also know none of that defines me.
Instead of looking at what I got wrong, I have gone to God and asked what He wants me to get right.
I don't ask what I got right in the past because that is like trying to weigh the good and bad in a balance and compare them. If the good outweighs the bad, I'm not as much of a failure as I thought, and I have permission to like me. But, folks, some days the stuff I get wrong piles high and deep, and the stuff I get right can be written on a Post It note. According to those scales, I am a failure. It isn't something I did. It is someone I am. And who wouldn't hate that?
But what if I put it in perspective?
Today I know there are more options for writing than that of a journalist.
I know I can use my stage presence for more than Broadway.
I know a pickup can carry kayaks better than a Jaguar.
I know I can fight for people and defend them and not wear a uniform or stand in a courtroom.
I know I still have purpose
even if it doesn't look like what I thought it would.
Failure addresses what I couldn't do or be in the past.
Possibility declares what I can do or be in the present.
Instead of looking at what I did not accomplish in the past, I choose to look at what God wants to accomplish in the present.
The key is choosing to be defined by HIS story, not my history.
And in His story, I was never written in as a failure. Neither were you.
I love that.