Friday, October 31, 2014

Praying to Be Released From the Punishing Prison-House of Self-Hatred (PrayerLife)

Self, in Bangkok

The whole problem of our time is the problem of love.

This Sunday at Redeemer I'm preaching on crossing over from hatred to love; moving from hating others to loving them. In the process I'll probably say something about the punishing prison-house darkness of self-hatred. 

I have personal experience in hating the self. And I have hated others. Thomas Merton says that my hatred of others grows from the soil of self-hating. Merton writes: 

"How are we going to recover the ability to love ourselves and to love one another? The reason why we hate one another and fear one another is that we secretly, or openly, hate and fear our own selves. And we hate ourselves because the depths of our being are a chaos of frustration and spiritual misery. Lonely and helpless, we cannot be at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we cannot be at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God." (Merton, The Living Bread, 66)

There is a solution to self-hatred. It is: Be at peace with God, and you will be at peace with self. Be at peace with self, and you will be at peace with others. Accept, as 1 John tells us, that you are a deeply loved child of God. His seed is now in you, and the DNA of his seed is love: for self, for others, for God.

Love God, and you will grow in self-acceptance. This will lead to a transforming experience where, instead of beating your self for faults and failures, you will rejoice in the greater purposes of God manifested in them. God knows how to draw glory even from your faults. Not to be self-hating after committing a fault is one of the marks of true sanctity that is rooted in God's parental love for you.

A life of radical freedom issues forth from a deep life of dwelling in the presence of God. We come to accept our true identity and live out of it. We see how it is possible to love, not hate, others because God loves us.