Don’t forget to love yourself.-Soren Kierkegaard
The most common phrase in the Bible is “Do Not Be Afraid”. It seems to me that God is trying to tell us something to us about our condition. We are deeply afraid. The more I move deeper into my spiritual journey, the more I realize that the journey is as much about loving myself, as it is to loving God. The consequence of sin began a life of shame for us. We became afraid of being who we are and what we are. The greatest commandment tells us to love God, but, then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We cannot love God, or others, until we begin loving ourselves. When we start a fatalistic path in all areas of our lives.
When I deny myself to myself I deny the very life source within myself. When I deny my pain and sorrow, I deny the very wisdom and grace, that allows me to move past it. As Kierkegaard beautifully says “Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.” The sad truth for most of us is that when we deny ourselves the bad in our lives, we also deny the good in our lives. Many of us, myself included, don’t think we’re good enough to have good things. The worst part of all of this is that when we close ourselves off to ourselves, we close ourselves off to the Holy Spirit. For if the Holy Spirit is the one that causes rebirth in our life, then by being closed off to our lives, we close off the very life that the Holy Spirit wants to bring rebirth into.
When I deny myself to God, all I am left with is cheap discipleship. When I deny myself to God I begin praying insincere prayers, I begin participating in false forms of worship. My acts are there to appease God. We begin discipleship to get God off our backs by paying our dues, or, we do acts that are trying to earn his approval (even though we already have). When I deny myself to God, I never actually know God because God is not an idea. God can only be known through our experience of him. Just like we love those most who have been there for us in hard times, God must be known with the same intimacy and vulnerability that we have with others. If God is not known this way, we cannot begin experiencing true change because God cannot find his way into us.
When I deny myself to others, I am truly incapable of experiencing change. Part of changing as a human being means identifying what you are experiencing, being able to speak it, and being able to find what you need to change it. When we deny ourselves to others, we become chronic people pleasers. We give them everything they ask for, and, end up giving so much of ourselves away that we become exhausted and resentful towards them. When we deny ourselves to others, we have a false intimacy which is built on lies, even if we fear that they would leave us because of our secrets. When we deny ourselves to others, we deny the very thing that also makes them human, the ability to know others humanely. Lastly, when we block off our lives to others, we also deny God the opportunity to spill out of us through the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the live and vitality of who we are, then closing ourselves off to others, means closing off that life and vitality to them.
So my hope is today that we may not fear ourselves. That we may not hide, like Adam and Eve did. My hope is that we may love and accept ourselves, just as God does. When we do this we begin opening ourselves to God, others and our purpose in life. When we open up our lives, we may be surprised by the death that might be there but we will also have the great shock of the life that is awaiting us. Don’t fear being yourself, it is enough. Living a lie, is the greatest sin I know.