Broken by society: Overcoming self-hate - Olivia Reid

Olivia writes a touching piece reflecting on society's intense standards for people and focuses on the love God has for us. She encourages us to put our focus on God's love for ourselves, despite being sinners.

In an age of social media, Photoshop, and Victoria Secret models there is a silent expectation placed on young people from the beginning of their lives. Although no one is explicitly saying we have to look a certain way, there are judgments placed upon those that don’t look right.

These expectations are showing a high rate of damage to young people. According to anad.org, at least 30 million people in the USA struggle from an eating disorder. Worse still, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Even those who don’t struggle with their body image may struggle with other parts of themselves and their identity such as their academic abilities, mental illnesses, or financial status.

Due to living in a society that focuses heavily on perfection, it has become common for people to hate themselves and to have such a high focus on meeting these expectations that they lose sight of God.

We are creation

As we all know, Genesis is the story of creation. In this book, it is written that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

In the first chapter of Genesis alone God creates many things; the sea, the sky, light, animals, but mankind was the only thing he described as being in His image. Nothing else has the ability to reflect who God is.

Many people think nature, sunsets and animals are so beautiful and find a connection with being in nature and seeing the beauty of God, yet when it comes to ourselves we don’t see the splendour of God. We are not just made by God but made in his image. Something that should truly be more beautiful than anything else in creation.

The glorification of self-hate

Many Christians believe that repentance has to be a result of hating yourself. Being able to say to God that you’re worthless and deserve to be hell-bound. Yet, God is able to love us through all of our sin, because he loves what he created and sin is not a part of that creation.

Repentance, instead, should focus on the disappointment of choosing sin instead of God’s will. We should hate the sin in our lives but not ourselves as a creation. Like the popular saying: “hate the sin, not the sinner”.

It is important to love our souls and the person God created us to be. A large part of this is being able to deny ourselves. God calls us to drop everything and follow him (Matthew chapter 16, verse 24 to 26). This is essential to loving ourselves because the best way that we can thrive in our lives is by letting ourselves be saved by God - not trying to do it in our own strength.

The power of God’s love

So, how can we let sin destroy us when God still loves us despite it? How can we deny God’s love because of what society says about us?

We were created in God’s image, the beauty of that will never cease to surpass the shallowness of societal beauty expectations.

I truly believe that we can’t hate ourselves with the knowledge that the creator of the world loves us so deeply and calls us his children.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”(1 John chapter 3, verse 1)

When sin threatens to overpower us and move us towards self-hate, we should remember that God is so much bigger than all sin (John chapter 16, verse 33). We should remember that, even though we may not look how society says we should, we are created in God’s image.

If God, the creator of the universe, loves you in spite of your sin shouldn’t you love yourself?

Olivia is studying a conjoint degree in film and global politics at the University of Auckland. She is a youth leader at Windsor Park and has been attending the church her whole life. She loves to connect to God through worship music and writing. //

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