It has become pretty fashionable to talk about learning to forgive yourself, or learning to love yourself. I wonder if you have heard that, or maybe even said that yourself.
Not to put too find a point on it, I think that these expressions are some of the most self-absorbed non-sense that it is possible to come out with. I appreciate that many people feel like these ideas (or practices, however you want to think about them) have helped them, but all they really do is give people an excuse to not deal with their problems or avoid reality.
The reason why these are self-absorbed expressions is that they centre everything on the self. Which is why then end up giving people an excuse or avoid reality. If someone treats you badly, and you have a consequent low opinion of yourself, or value yourself lowly, the answer is not to look inward and learn to love yourself. If you do that, you are likely to find that you aren’t actually all that loveable. Sure, everyone has redeeming features, but who can’t look at themselves and see selfishness, anger, weakness and shame? The answer is not to learn to love yourself, but to learn that the One who made you loves you, and learn to receive that love rather than turn it away.
God knows you more deeply that you know yourself. He made you. He sees you. He cares for you. He loves you. Loves you enough to send his son to die in your place so that you can be reconciled to him. You don’t need to learn to love yourself. You need to learn to accept God’s love for you. Because that doesn’t change based on what you do or discover about yourself.
Its the same with “learning to forgive yourself”. If you are feeling guilty for something, you need to understand that when Jesus forgives you, you are forgiven indeed. There is nothing left to forgive. There is nothing left to pay. The more you make dealing with your guilt something that you need to do, and needs to come from your authority, the more you are just giving yourself an excuse.
I can understand why someone who isn’t a Christian would find the idea of ‘forgiving yourself’ or ‘learning to love yourself’ attractive. In a world where you can’t depend on anyone, and you are hurting, where else can you turn for unconditional love and forgiveness but yourself? If you are not going to be on your side, who is?
I can’t understand why a Christian would use these expressions, or encourage others to use them or follow them (unless its just a matter of not thinking about what they say). Because we have forgiveness in Christ. We have the love of God. If these things don’t seem like they are enough, or you are still struggling with some sort of feelings of guilt and unlovability, then you need to learn how God loves you and forgives you. You need to understand what this is, and what God has done for you in a deeper, and more thorough way, not turn in on yourself.
The love of God, and the forgiveness of sins, is the greatest news in the world, and it will set you free. If you don’t feel free, look to God, not to yourself, and let him transform your life.