The Antidote for Our Inner Critic

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 butterfly heart

So I am seriously on a mission.

This past weekend, I was one of the speakers at a women’s conference and I have to say, I met some incredibly gifted and wonderful women – beautiful inside and out. I could not have been more blessed by encountering these lovelies – my heart was so full by the end of the day.

But to a person…every single one I connected with struggled with insecurities, self-doubt and an inner critic that tore them down. You know what I’m talking about? That voice that constantly points out your flaws, weaknesses and screw-ups. That voice that says “you can’t”, or “you’re not enough”. The voice that keeps us isolated, with a wall around our hearts. The voice that cripples us.

You’ve seen the Dove YouTube video of women describing themselves denigratingly; you’ve seen the video of moms criticizing themselves, only to be brought to tears by the truth of how their children see them. And I see this in my office time and time again – not just with women but also with men. The negative chatter that goes on inside our heads is out of control.

I am enraged by this tactic of the enemy, who seeks to tear down and devour us with his lies. I am filled with a holy discontent that burns inside me to change the way people see and talk about themselves. These are lies from the pit of hell! And to make matters worse, we take these lies and beat ourselves up by it, over and over again.

Think about it: if you’re parents, would you ever let anyone call your kids the names you call yourself? Would you allow negative and bullying words attack your children like you regularly say to yourself? So why would you do the same thing to one of God’s children – YOU?

God is crazy in love with you. As Brennan Manning puts it so aptly, God is “love-crazed” for you!

Can you picture that? Love-crazed? God is love-crazed for ME?

If those words don’t feel real to you, consider whether you have allowed the hurtful experiences in your life to dictate your loveworthiness. I know I have. Do you see yourself as a reject or a misfit? Do you see yourself as unlovable? If there’s pain in your heart as you read my words, consider whether that pain has attached itself to you through wrong conclusions you have made about yourself.

When you feel rejected or unworthy of love, you must be careful not to take on these misbeliefs as part of who you are. God never intends us to suffer because of believing lies. He is a God of Truth. Therefore you must see these pains as false, so that they don’t paralyze you or prevent you from loving and being loved. God is love-crazed for YOU. He created you to love and be loved. You. And me. That is your destiny and your identity, regardless of how life may have tried to convince you otherwise. Fight for this truth.

Free Is Unconditional

While God does allow pain into our lives – sometimes excruciating and unexplainable pain that we need to wrestle through with him – he never desires our pain, nor does he intend for us to experience the pain of believing lies. Our Father is a God of truth, and so his heart breaks when we remain trapped believing lies of our soul’s enemy. The truth is that God knows absolutely everything about us – every ugly, broken, sinful, and beautiful, treasured part of us – and he loves us exactly as we are.

We get so inured to the words “unconditional love” that we forget what that truly means – free from any and all conditions. This means that Our Father’s love for us is completely independent of whether we believe it or not, accept it or not – it just is.

Whether we believe it or not, God loves who we really and truly are. He calls us to come out of hiding just as we are. No amount of spiritual surgery can make us more lovable to God. But instead of believing this to be true, we project onto God our worst beliefs and feelings about ourselves. We fail to believe in God’s love because it just doesn’t feel true.

Negative experiences weigh heavily on us and easily over-ride the truth of Scripture or the wonderful spiritual experiences we have. Instead we allow the experiences of the fallen world and the taunts of the enemy to create in us feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and insecurity about our worth. These feelings imprison many of us, keeps us in deep bondage. We know we’re sons and daughters of God, but we don’t live freely – we don’t experience the full life we are intended to have.

You are the Beloved

I don’t know about you but I have a hard time wrapping my head and heart around the truth that this great, big, holy, unknowable, all-powerful, awe-inspiring, incomprehensible God of ours loves me and is intimately involved in the tiny details of my life. It’s hard for us to grasp that degree of perfect love and the value we have in God’s eyes, particularly when faced with the intimate knowledge we have of our hidden flaws and sinful thoughts and compulsions, and battered about by the scorn and rejection of the world. It’s almost impossible for us to anchor ourselves in the truth of our identity as our Father’s Beloved, especially given the competing din and lies we hear in the messy, painful and broken pieces of our lives.

Can you hear your Father’s voice calling out this truth to you?

Can you hear the words of your Father: You are My Beloved? Stop right now in the middle of the busyness of your life; put aside all of your neuroses, self-doubts, self-rejection and anxieties. Pause long enough to listen to the words of your Father: You are My Beloved.

This is what we all deeply long for. We yearn to know we are adored, that we are special and loved uniquely, not in a generic way. We want to know we matter. That we hold a special place in our Father’s heart, a place no one and nothing can ever rival or take away from us. Jesus loves me, this I know. Without this certainty in the core of our being, we will misinterpret every painful aspect of our story.

Otherwise, the sorrow that God allows in our life will feel like abandonment or cold-heartedness on his part. Without this foundation of knowing we’re our Father’s Beloved, we will move precariously through our life, trying to prove our worth and earn belovedness through approval, performance or achievement.

The One Jesus Loved Dearly

The other day, while reading the familiar passage in John 13 when Jesus was spending time with his disciples just before he was heading to the cross, it struck me anew how our identity as His Beloved is key to how God sees us.

After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus was reclining around the table with one of his closest friends, John. In verse 23 (The Message version), John writes of himself, “One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder.” Curious, I did a search through the book of John and saw that John referred constantly to himself as the one Jesus loved: in John 19:26, “Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved”; in 20:2, John describes himself as “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved”; further in 21:7, “Then the other disciple Jesus loved said to Peter…”; and in 21:20, “Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind.”

I especially love the Amplified version of John 13:21: “One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved [whom he esteemed and delighted in]…” Precious words of Jesus’ deep love for his friend. John, a simple and uneducated man, of humble beginnings and no great import. What a powerful way to describe oneself! Having walked daily with Jesus, having experienced him as the human manifestation of God the Father, having opened himself up to Jesus (to the point where he reclined with his head on Jesus’ shoulders, or in other translations, “on Jesus’ bosom”—NASB). His intimate relationship with Jesus, defined him, the one Jesus loved dearly.

Nothing is more important than capturing well the core of your belovedness.

Will you join me in this mission? The world needs to hear this truth. Let’s live as God’s Beloved and allow his love to flow out of us to others. Everyone desperately needs this truth.

 

Ephesians 5:1, 2 MSG: “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

 

 

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