Try this with a friend: One person puts on blue-tinted glasses. The other person holds up a lemon and asks the person with glasses on what object she sees.
What will she see? A lime.
That’s right. Yellow and blue make green. The reality is that the object is a lemon. The blue-tinted glasses distort the yellow-color of a lemon to appear green – a lime.
How many of you look at yourself through a distorted lens? I sure do and I have for many, many years. You may see me as strong, intelligent, inspirational, creative, kind, hard-working and successful. I see me as broken, scarred, too-much, a burden, selfish, a failure, never-good-enough, and worthless.
I see myself through a distorted lens of strong self hatred. I wasn’t born hating myself and with a strange bent to want to cut and burn my own skin (and neither were you). My lens of self hatred came from what people told me and did to me. From an early age, I was told I was fat, over-emotional, too sad and I made too much of a big deal out of little problems. Throughout my life, people who loved me – family members, friends and significant others – hurt, used and abused my body and my feelings. Love was not only conditional on what I did, but it seemed people who loved me hurt me a whole lot. That’s the very short and simple explanation of how I learned to hate and hurt myself, to see myself through a distorted lens.
I tried all sorts of things to change my lens and see myself as the beautiful, valuable person other people saw me as. I went to therapy. I attended several treatment programs and therapeutic groups. I sought love and truth from other people and married a man I believed loved me unconditionally. But feelings are fickle and ever-changing. It didn’t take much for a bad day, moment, month or memory to convince me again what a horrible person I was. And how could I trust people? People who loved me sometimes acted like they cared about me and sometimes they hurt me.
Not long ago, my world was turned upside-down when I got divorced, my dad got cancer and died, and my mom got cancer and died all within three years. I had made strides in my recovery and started to accept a different version of myself than my distorted lens of self hatred. But the things I loved most were taken away from me – certainly I must be the worst person in the world like I believed all along!
Without having a husband, mom or dad and their value of me and the truth that they loved me; without having a meaningful job, career, home or many friendships to find value in myself from; I had nowhere to left to turn except to God. My therapist, a beautiful woman of faith who walked me through that terribly painful time, had been teaching me about God and God’s love for all people. My therapist knew that I believed in a Higher Power, a Creator, a God Almighty. The challenge was for me to believe that He loved me, too. She empathically told me that all God made was good and that He loved all people and that there was no place in the Bible that said “God loves all people except Janelle.”
I decided to ask God myself if He actually loved me. But first, I even dared to tempt Him to hate me. Surely if I hurt myself more and hurt myself worse, even God would hate me. His answer was clear. “No, Janelle. I do not hate you. I love you more than you know.”
‘How could God not hate someone who intentionally hurt His creation and masterpiece, me?’ I thought. Evidence in hand – failed careers, failed marriage, no family or parents or home, scarred head-to-toe from hurting my own body – I asked again, “God, do you love me?”
God’s answer came back emphatically loud and clear. “Janelle, I love you from here to the farthest star and back times infinity. I love you and forgive you, yes, even you.”
Why would God Almighty, the one who put the stars in the sky, the one who makes rain and put boundaries on the light of dawn and dusk, the one who moves mountains and calms seas, have time, effort, thought and love for me?
The fact is that God is God. I accept the Word of God as TRUTH and His word is clear – no exceptions, not even for me. As Almighty Creator, God created all things including me. All things God created, He calls good and He loves. That means He loves me, even and especially me. He feeds and cares for the little sparrows, certainly He loves me so much more and can take care of me. I’m not too much. My therapist is right, it’s not written anywhere in the Bible that God loves all people except me. Not because of anything I have done or not done, but because God is God, unchanging, unfailing and true. He loves me because He created me and He loves what He sees, scars and all.
God and His perfect, everlasting, never-ending love for a miserable, self-hating failure like me changed my lens. He change my lens to the lens of His TRUTH as seen through His Word. I absolutely cannot rely on my own feelings about myself to find my value. I absolutely cannot rely on what other people say and think about me to find my value, though there are Godly people who faithfully speak truth into my life. The Word of God, the Love of God, the Truth from God is greater than my feelings, my lens or the lens, words, feelings and actions of other people.
I am created by God. I am loved by God. Period. End of story. Truth. No arguments. And I believe the same is true of you, too, even and especially you.