Sep 30, 2012

Yours is the face of a thousand hate crimes.

These are the words that were shouted in my head as I looked into the mirror today. Seconds before, I’d been thinking on my love for people, for my friends and for those who are learning and growing. A slight inclination of pride raised its curious head before I saw the physical mess in the bathroom around me, and the loathing bit back with such a force that I thought pride had been beaten. That is when I looked into the mirror, and said to myself: Yours is the face of a thousand hate crimes. For each time you hated yourself, neglected yourself, hurt yourself. For each time you denied yourself love, grace, and forgiveness. Yours is the face of such hate that I wonder how you dare to think you even care for another.

I realised in that moment, that the monster called Self-Loathing is wearing a mask. It comes bearing the title of ‘saviour’ as it tears down any inklings of pride and ego. Arrogance is threatened and either dies quickly or holds its ground with all the futile stubbornness that a big head can muster. And for a moment you think you’ve escaped the trap of every human: to think he or she is better than they truly are.

You are mistaken. Self-hatred is not humility; it is a deep and destructive form of pride. Self-Loathing takes off its mask to reveal itself as a parasite that only destroys one strain of pride to bury a stronger, more elusive form of the disease.

For years I hated myself, and held no grace for my shortcomings, because I believed that was the pursuit of humility. Little did I know that some time later, pulling out the roots and thorns of that hate would expose some very deep-seated pride.

I believed that I was beyond repair, beyond forgiveness, beyond hope, and beyond love. Not only from humankind but from God Himself. The One who created me; who knit me together in my mother’s womb; the same One who, in His infinite, unsurpassable love, promised that nothing could separate us; that I could be made new and set free; that I could enjoy a new life; the One who inspired me to give that unending grace and mercy to all those around me. But I could not receive any of this from Him, because I could not give it to myself.

For every time that I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw, I hated God’s creation. For every time I sat in despair and hated how useless I was, I hated God’s promise to complete the good work he had started. For every time I denied myself forgiveness and hated the choices I had made, I hated God’s sacrifice, I cheapened His glory.

I didn’t think I was big, I thought God was small. In my mind I made Him weak, and as time went on I became more and more important. All my transgression and failure was so overshadowing to the omnipotence of God.

That is a dangerous, sneaky, burrowing form of pride.

And it is only now, as I have begun to rake my soul and meticulously remove the weeds that hate and pride once planted, that I have been able to allow myself the grace that God has been longing to lavish upon me. It is only now that my grace for others stems not from duty and pride, but from the deepest love that a humble heart recognises can only come from the God for whom and through whom everything exists.

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