I’m an Enneagram Type 2. That fact alone will tell you a lot of things about me, including: 1. My deepest need and desire is to be loved simply for who I am; and 2. My deepest fear is never actually having the good fortune of experiencing that. Couple that with the recent dip in my self-esteem due to issues with weight and you have someone that’s been doing her best to keep busy in order to avoid feeling all of the things I’m currently feeling. Even as I sit here trying to write this post, I keep finding ways to delay because I just don’t feel like going there – that place that I must mentally transport myself to in order to face and deal with all of this.
In an attempt to fix myself, I got the idea that practicing self-love might help. After doing a little bit of research, however, and realizing that this idea is not biblically supported, I came to the conclusion that while this might be a step in the right direction, it certainly isn’t the answer.
It may be true that who we are on the inside matters far more than what we look like on the outside but it is important that we acknowledge that we are actually quite messed up on the inside. And yet God loves us just the same. In his article, “Do You Love Yourself Enough?” James Beevers posed the following questions:
“Do you love yourself enough to stop denying that your sins, your faults, your inadequacies are as real as your virtues? Do you love yourself enough to stop scraping together self-worth from broken, sinful pieces of self, and instead to embrace the free gift of the Father’s love for Christ’s sake?”
What James is trying to convey to his readers is that all of the things that are wrong about us are just as real as the handful of things that are right about us. Even in our shining moment, our righteousness is still as a filthy rag. Recognizing that this is our condition, this is the version of ourselves that we must choose to love and accept. Not the version of ourselves that we can live with and tolerate – the version that is most likable – but the one that is a wretch undone. Why is this important? Because loving ourselves in this way requires that we love our entire selves, not just the good parts. In turn, this helps us to fully understand the greatness and depth of God’s love. That such a holy and perfect being could love us should be enough to move us to tears.
God knows who we truly are – not who we pretend to be – and even that isn’t enough to extinguish His love for us. He sees behind our performance, having a clear view of our hearts and minds, and the thought of rejecting us never crosses His mind. Take a moment to let that sink in.
David asked, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”(Psalm 8:4, 5)
The Father not only loves us with an unapologetic love but in addition to that, He holds us in high esteem. If we could bring ourselves to wrap our minds around that truth, I believe we would finally have the confidence needed to fulfill the calling placed upon our lives.
Even if you aren’t an Enneagram Type 2, to one degree or another you, too, desire to feel loved. Your need for this may not be as strong as mine but the need exists nevertheless. The problem for me, though, is that this need has not served me well. In fact it has often led me astray. So if self-love isn’t the answer, then what is? Hiding in my Father’s love.
While God’s love looks past my sin and shame and pursues me all the more, that isn’t all that it does. It also protects me. Psalm 27:5 says, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” This love protects me from external forces and it protects me from myself. It protects me from my own deceitful heart, from my own wisdom. The same wisdom that leads me astray. The same wisdom that places me in situations that I am incapable of removing myself from.
And once the danger has ceased to exist and I am no longer under threat, my God lifts me up to a place that is out of the reach of anything that would dare disturb my peace. A place where deep-seated issues that extend invitations to all the wrong types of love cannot find me. It is in this place that any power and effectiveness potentially held by self-love is dwarfed by an unfailing, incomprehensible, all-consuming, palpable love that receives me on the rare occasion that I am right and still persists when I am wrong.
Portrayed here is a love that is not bothered by our brokenness nor all of our inherent defects. On the contrary, it is the only thing that is capable of healing and delivering us from such a state – something all of the self-love in the world could never do.