I have struggled with critical self-talk just as much as the next guy, but I was only familiar with how it sounded to me. My harsh treatment towards myself was all I ever knew, it was my norm to berate my decisions and assume the sky was falling in every circumstance I couldn’t control. It never dawned on me that people who heard my criticism, responded to me accordingly. It wasn’t until I realized how angry I felt that I started describing myself that way, and pretty soon those around me did too. After all, I did need money, a place to live, a family to re-unite with, physical healing, a good “moral inventory” and obviously counseling to deal with my childhood and prevalent manifestations of hostility toward injustices. But I had no problem being the poster child for a seemingly “weak” and reactionary person, because in my weakness, Daddy buffered me from further misconceptions about Himself. I assumed that God was judging me like a peer, a person quickly swayed by my behavior. The critical spirit that drove my perfectionism was wrapped in a hefty bundle of control that I sought deliverance from. Now with the demonic foothold dismantled in my life I can get down to serious business and fill my heart up with truth to replace the lies I have believed for so long.
So I asked myself this morning, “What would I be like if I wasn’t self-critical?” Here was my response to my spirit woman: “I would love every square inch of my body and tell it so as I looked into the mirror. I would appreciate my strength and it’s ability to help me accomplish athletic goals in my past, and personal milestones presently. I would appreciate my introspection and ability to change the course of direction. I would see my need for inner healing to be a positive trait and what has propelled me to overcome the doubts of others and move past the need for a “ministry” and recognition from the pulpit. I would recognize that Jesus says, “have your own relationship with Me”, because mine will look different than everyone else’s. I would realize that applying scripture to my life according to another man’s interpretation of it, would hinder my own ability to hear Daddy’s voice. Without self-criticism I would be free to set goals and scale the walls that try to stop me from meeting them, and then if I feel like changing my goal, I would do that and start a new adventure. I wouldn’t second guess my dreams. I would ignore all the other people who focus on “thou shalt not” instead of walking in Jesus’ footprints. I would keep my blinders on and not look to the left or the right and be taken off path because of negative opinions and unbelief disguised as “caution”. I would know that my charismatic search for fun doesn’t have to conflict with my need to fix myself, it can actually work together for my good. I could find my identity through being the child within and exposing my child-likeness without embarrassment. And I would definitely laugh my way through moments when I back my car into a parked bulldozer or when others are making fun of me.
When chronic pain covered my body each morning, I would seek His help for a remedy instead of assuming it was my lot in life. I would let my Daddy in heaven work out the details of my day because my control and fear no longer work. I would choose to accept others just as they are and learn about myself when they don’t do things my way. I would love the ones everybody else gave up on and those not believed to be the best for me. If I wasn’t self critical I would find it refreshing to hear another person’s perspective without having to adopt it as my own. I would be able to let another express him or herself without it having to reflect back on me. I would like my current position on faith and not have to teach anyone else about it or preach a sermon. I would allow myself to just “be” even if nobody else understands me. It would be completely OK for me to read my Bible when compelled, or just pray in my car without the formalities of ritual. I could start a house church and never return to the 4 walls of organized religion. I could actually do what Jesus did, bring others into the realization that they are loved, accepted, forgiven and important, all without being recognized for doing so. Wow, how amazing my perspective on life would be if I laid down my need to be self-critical. I might actually be someone who Daddy doesn’t criticize.
In Matt 22:37-39 Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” Jesus always focused on the aspect of putting others into the same situation as yourself. What advice would you give a hurting friend? How would you help a stranger if you witnessed him get in a car accident? Most of the time we don’t step out to do anything for someone else because we don’t want to get involved, but what does that say about our own ability to intervene for ourselves? We have to be our own best advocate before we can become one for others. If I don’t expect good things to happen then I won’t be able to expect good things for those I love and therefore must not love myself. Self-criticism is self-hate and apart from every approach Jesus had in dealing with people. Jesus didn’t go around saying, “thou shalt not ” except when telling us to not be hypocrites. Therefore we shall focus on self-love and grace which propels us toward the internal change that comes through His healing. Looking within is always beneficial when we trust He already knows what we don’t like but doesn’t remind us of it to motivate better behavior. If the message was self-love when He walked this earth and He still reigns now, it seems to me that loving ourselves is the beginning of selfless change. What would you be like if you didn’t criticize yourself?