Tag Archives: self hate

Just as Ugly as Ever

I took Sampson walking this morning. He was chasing squirrels like he always does. We got to a tree and this little tiny squirrel was right at the base of it. When he saw Sampson he started climbing up. Long story short he fell and Samson got him and started shaking the squirrel violently.  Sampson is a gentle giant and doesn’t have any aggressive or mean tendencies. However, when he had that squirrel in his mouth, he reverted back to a dog’s natural instincts and when he did, I reverted back to mine.

I enjoy watching him run squirrels and everyone else does too.  People come to the park just to watch Sampson.  He’s an older dog so I think he’ll just run them up trees so no harm is done. Not today.  When he had that squirrel shaking it for the kill, I freaked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sampson is a rescue. We’ve had him for 4 years and when we got him, I could walk toward him with my phone in my hand and he would put his tail between his legs and run.  He was afraid of everything, even loud noises and loud voices. Obviously, he had been abused by hands he thought he could trust.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to even talk loud when he’s close because it visibly upsets him.  The first year we had him, we purposely didn’t walk toward him with anything in our hands because he was so scared.  I have never laid my hands on him for punishment but when he grabbed that squirrel I smacked him on his tail and I screamed at him.

It was only when he let go of the squirrel that I realized what I was doing.  When I snapped out of the heat of the moment, I felt terrible.  Sampson sat and looked at me with a look I’d hadn’t seen from him before.  My heart was absolutely broken.  I was so disgusted with myself and the possibility that maybe I’d undone the trust and safety it took so long to build with my companion.

This, obviously, wasn’t the first time I reverted back to my old nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last but there was something different about this morning. I saw how quickly – based on circumstances – the human flesh can revert back to what it so desperately wants to be free of – that ugly, vile “sin nature”.  We all have it and as I saw this morning, no matter how loving and “good” we want to be, our “flesh nature” will rule the moment if we act on feelings and/or circumstances.  We’re capable of anything at any given moment.  Those of us who say “I’d never…” are the most vulnerable. I didn’t want to scream at my dog. I certainly didn’t want to smack him but I did. I’d promised him and me I’d never do anything to make him fear me.  This morning I did exactly what I said I’d never do.  What I never intended to do became instinctual in that circumstance.

One second I was praising and listening to my music enjoying a beautiful sunrise and happy in the Lord and the next minute I was a monster. Just goes to show you that at any given second I can be just as ugly as I ever was, doing what I never intended to do. Never ever, ever think you ‘would never’ do something because all of us when left to the heat of the moment in a given circumstance will find we’re capable of anything.

I’ve spent years with the Lord. I know he’s changed me from the inside out. I know I’m not who I used to be but this morning I learned I can act just like I used to, given the right circumstances.

I’ve repented, asking God to forgive me as well as Sampson. He seems to not be troubled because after the incident he went after another squirrel.

I don’t like myself very much right now. I’ve seen in a very short span of time how I can be just as ugly as I ever was. Instincts (and our culture) encourage us to act based on how you feel. That’s the very thing the Lord is teaching us to get out of.  He’s teaching us to react based on what He says in ways (actions, words, thoughts) pleasing to Him and not how we’ve always done it. I thought I had mastered that a little better; this morning proved I’m capable of being just as ugly as I ever was and when left to my emotions and reacting out of fear, I’ll be that way again.

Thank you for the reminder Lord, as humiliating and ugly as it was.  I pray to keep this flesh controlled regardless of what happens. I hope you do, too.

 

1st Corinthians 10:12  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Philippians 3:13:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”

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To Grieve or Regret?

I caught myself grieving my life this morning.  Do you ever do that? I grieved the fact that I made horrible choices when I was younger – I just didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even myself. I just wanted to be happy, to feel good, to be loved at whatever the cost.

One of my first memories was my parents telling me, a 6-year-old child and my 4-year-old sister they were getting a divorce. I think a part of me died or at least changed me forever.  That may sound foreign to the reader since divorce is so “normal” now.  Back then it wasn’t.  There was no therapy available; coping skills were “suck it up and go on”. Because it was so hard on Mom and younger sister, I buried my feelings and told no one how I felt. That was just the beginning.

I’m knocking on the door of 60 and to this day, I look back and see every wrong turn, every decision made out of self-righteousness and self-loathing.  If no one else was going to care about me and what I do, why should I so I pursued self-destructive things and habits and because of MY choices (not because of anyone else) here I am today.  Alive?  Yes.  Saved and changed?  Yes, thank God. But I can’t help looking back to what could have been.

I stop short of regret, but grieve more than I care to admit. I think there’s a difference.  Grief allows me a healthy awareness of sorrow over things in my life.  Regret is, well regret.  I do regret – but I can’t wish it had never happened.  Regret would lead me (I fear) to resent my life, and all the things that led me straight into the presence of Jesus.  How could I regret anything?  I wish I had lived differently; I wish I had KNOWN to live differently.  I grieve the years I could’ve been different and the things I could’ve done differently.  I grieve the death of myself but I don’t regret who I am now.

Would I have been saved or had the privileges of seeing the hand of God in my life and in my son’s life had I (or my circumstances) been different?  Would I have ever written for Him, live to honor Him?  I know this:  I wouldn’t have this powerful testimony to share about a “wretch like me”.  I wouldn’t know what I know.

So there you have it – the point of it all, the beauty for ashes. All that ugly is turning into something beautiful…in EVERY life, not just mine.  Look back occasionally and no matter what you feel, see how God has brought you through it all for His good pleasure. Grieve a moment, but don’t regret.  Believe all of it has a grand purpose:  for His glory and for you to know He is the One True God and that He’s faithful to see His plan through to the end. Always.

Jeremiah 29:11-13; Isaiah 61:3; Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13

Privilege Not Punishment!

How many prayers have you prayed that have either gone unanswered or been responded to with a no?  How many loved ones have you lost?  How many hardships have you suffered, how many losses have you endured?

How many times have you asked why? How many times have you watched others be blessed with what you’ve begged God for?  How many times have you felt that because of all the above you were being punished for something?

If we have any age on us at all, we’ve all been in those spots.  We tend to think because we’re told no, denied, abandoned, jobless, homeless, or without, we’re being punished.  Maybe we’re just not loved…or loved less…than our neighbors and friends.

This reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden when they had partaken of the forbidden fruit they hid from God.  Adam offered the timeless excuse…”we hid because we’re naked” (paraphrased).  God’s very wise, parent-like response makes me smile every time I read it:  “Who told you, you were naked?”! (Genesis 3:10-11). See, they had ALWAYS been without clothes, uncovered because they were in paradise – that was their normal then all of a sudden, everything (because of disobedience) changed.  They saw themselves as they really were.

Isn’t that the crux of our problem?  We know how we’ve lived, what we’ve done…we are well aware of what we deserve!  OR we think we’ve been so good (perhaps we have been) that we don’t deserve any bad.  For a time after my son got older and God healed him from a devastating brain injury, I thought I had survived the hardest thing in my life, I had taken my “turn” and that a life of peaches and cream was on my horizon.  How arrogant of me!

The things I’ve been through – at my own hand and at other’s – continue to show me that being in a tough, impossible, extremely painful place is a place of privilege and NOT punishment.  Through those times, I have been privileged to see more of God and cultivate a personal, foundational relationship with Him.  Was it fun?  NO.  A lot of times it still isn’t.  Would I choose to learn this way?  Are you kidding?  Apparently I have to grow and learn the hard way.

If you’re going through something devastating – don’t fall for the lie.  Yes some things we go through are consequences to our behavior but some things aren’t.  Believe God hasn’t left you and He’s not mad at you.  Believe He’s chosen you to allow you a place of privilege – a place where you can choose to get closer to Him. (Romans 8:28!)

Genesis 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.”

The Giant in the Mirror

There she is again.  Every time something goes wrong, even with something goes right, this wicked monster is the first to cast stones.  She’s quick to remind me of everything I’ve ever done wrong.  Every day, I must contend with her.

Every day, she reminds me of how weak and beaten up I am and all I’ve been through.  Minute by minute if I listen to her, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t try, why I shouldn’t believe for better and should quit while I’m ahead.  With every new day, the old stares me in the face – if I focus on her long enough, her voice overpowers the God in me.

Perhaps the most important choice is at the beginning of the day, deciding who you’re going to listen to.  The giant doesn’t lie, she tells the truth…her version of it, anyway.

She wants to keep my focus on the past and all the pain affiliated with it.  She needs an excuse to make no effort.  Not because she doesn’t believe (she does – she knows God) but because she does and she knows if I choose not to listen to her (myself) and heed His word and His truth instead, efforts must be made, exercises in faith and trust must ensue.  She’s tired.  She’s weary and she’s discouraged.  She finds very little reason to believe a single word she says or trust even a fleeting thought of hope.  It’s all justified.  Just like a victim seeking revenge on her assailant, her actions would be righteously justified.

Here’s the thing, though.  She’s submitted to God so her right to herself has been relinquished to His right to her.  Her own actions to justify herself are null and void…She’s put her trust and heart into the hands of a Mighty Savior who has already won the battle with the giant of herself.  All she has to do is believe it.  She knows she’s no match for fighting the giant but she’s sure her Jesus is more than capable for the battle of the day.  It’s not her strength against who she sees (and remembers) in that mirror that will have victory this day; it’s His.

Every single day, the choice is ours.  Who will lead you?  Who will you listen to?  Who will you believe?  Yourself or Your King?  The battle is won or lost with that one decision.  The truth is, we may have to make that decision on a minute by minute basis. It won’t be easy (the past will attempt to discourage); it won’t be fun (fighting ourselves is ugly and messy) but we will be victorious  against our giants if we choose to fight with all of our armor on – trusting Him with everything they throw at us.  Are you in?

“…even if our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”  1st John 3:20 NLT