If you have siblings, at some point you played the ‘game’ where you forced a family member to hit themselves with their own hands, while saying, “Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?” This was really only funny for one of you, am I right?
Too often, though, we play this game all by ourselves. We are the ones hitting ourselves, beating ourselves up over failure and weakness, berating ourselves for being less than. We speak harshly, demanding more, demanding better, rarely letting ourselves off the hook. I know. I’m really good at that game.
This summer, I’ve seen levels of anxiety in my soul I didn’t know were there, and my natural inclination has been to pour contempt on it, willing it away. Instead of sitting with it, I want to run to a place of condemnation for what feels like weakness, failure, a lack of faith, as if that’s where I’ll find the salvation I seek.
Recently, a friend introduced me to this song, Be Kind to Yourself, by Andrew Peterson:
The line that gets me is, “How does it end when the war that you’re in is just you against you against you?”
We can live like our own worst enemies. We speak contempt to our own souls in a way that we would never speak to another. We shut down emotions that we think are unacceptable. We tell ourselves we just need more faith. When we mess up, we are the first in line to call it out and condemn. We admonish ourselves to suck it up and deal with life, rather than listen with grace to that in us which needs a voice. Who wins in this scenario?
So what do we do? For starters, we remind ourselves that we do have an enemy, and it’s not us.
We can chose to side with him against ourselves, or we can chose to side with the One who loves us. He never speaks harshly. He never condemns. He is patient with our weaknesses. He always speaks with compassion, grace, truth and acceptance. He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves, and yet it doesn’t change the fact that He’s wild about us.
So tell yourself it’s ok. You’re doing the best you can with what you have. Cut yourself some slack for your mistakes. Forgive yourself when you sin. Encourage yourself to get back up when you fall. Speak grace. Speak kindness. Speak compassion. Love yourself where you are, because He does.
He is kind to us. He invites us to be kind to ourselves. Stop hitting yourself. Lay down your weapons and rest.