By: Melisa Carroll
A few weeks ago, I started paying more attention to the ways that I talk to myself (sounds a little silly, I know, but go with me here). I’m not referring to the talking out loud I do while I’m doing a task at home by myself, but what I say to myself on a continual basis mentally. What I came to realize is that I’m pretty mean to myself. Most of my thoughts sounded something like this:
“Wow, Melisa, you’re dumb. Why would you do that silly thing?”
“Melisa, you are so weak. I can’t believe you let that happen again!”
“Dang it, I messed up big time. I can’t do anything right.”
I wasn’t trying to be self-deprecating or make other people feel bad for me (because no one could hear these things I was saying anyways), but I realized that after a continuous stream of these messages going through my mind, I generally felt pretty crummy about myself.
Jesus says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Most of the time when we hear this verse, we take it as a reminder to be loving to our neighbor (which we should!), but do we ever think about the subtle assumption Jesus is making here- the one that we love ourselves, so therefore we can love our neighbor in a similar way? What if I went around saying the things I said to myself to other people? I definitely wouldn’t be loving them, so then how do I get away with feeling like I can do that to myself?
I’m not advocating for all that “love yourself” nonsense that seems to be spreading around these days like crazy, but that we begin to recognize our true value, have true humility about it, and therefore be able to love others better.
As you’ve probably heard before, true humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. When you practice true humility, you recognize the areas where you struggle, but you also recognize the areas where you have strengths. Most importantly, you recognize that all of these things (your strengths AND weaknesses) make up the person that you are and through both, Christ can bring about goodness.
Chew on this verse for a minute: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
That means that Christ’s power is made manifest in our weaknesses. Yes, even in the areas of our lives where we struggle the most, where we are most weak, where we feel most ashamed, that’s where Jesus can work the most. I can honestly attest to the fact that I’ve experienced God’s grace most powerfully when I am challenging one of my weaknesses or using it to help someone else.
So should we be ashamed of our “failings”? No. St. Paul goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12: 9-10)
The bottom line is that, if we are willing, God can use us in amazing ways to be love to those around us and spread his Kingdom. We need to be humble in recognizing that we are instruments in His hands, but be aware of how valuable we are to Him when we allow ourselves to be used for His good. On our own, our weaknesses look like blemishes and flaws, but in His hands, they make us all the more beautiful.
So the next time that you start to say something negative to yourself, stop yourself and say instead, “I am a valuable instrument in God’s hands. I pray that He uses me- in my strengths and weaknesses- to be love!”