(used with permission, People of the Second Chance)
This post has been sitting in my cue a quite a while. It seems appropriate that it now meets the the readers of this blog.
It’s true. Sometimes only hate describes my view of myself. It’s not usually when I’ve put it in the ditch either. There’s a subtle motivator in my life. Praise. When I get plenty of it, life explodes with happiness. Happiness, not joy. When I suffer too long without affirmation from the right people, I spiral down into self-loathing.
I know I’m not alone. Too many of my conversations with friends, fellow youth pastors and teenagers confirm this self-imposed feeling. It is self-imposed. Youth ministry in particular can be a petri dish for growing self-hate. Most youth workers live in a world of satisfying their love for helping adolescents while trying to please so many other people. It’s possible to live outside of this reality, but very few are able to live in this tension for long without suffering a bruised heart.
My biggest trigger for self-hate lies in where I get my value. When I depend on other people, outside sources, green lights, special sales events on jeans and especially the approval of my boss, I will eventually end up in dispair. If I can instead find out who I am and rely on that knowledge to bring fulfillment, I short circuit the myth of failure.
This is easier said than done. Finding and living out of a created identity takes work. I know no other way to do this than through a constant relationship with my Creator. When I get to know him, I see parts of myself. I can’t get to know myself apart from a relationship with him. It’s not usually always pretty, and I fail often enough, but the alternative can’t be an intentional part of my life.