Guest Article: The Battle Against Self-Condemnation
Self-condemnation and fear of what others thought of me has been a huge issue in my life for many years. For a long time, I was ignorant of its presence in my life and I wore it like the collar on my shirt. When I walked into particular settings, this is what I felt in my subconscious: “Oh, you might as well keep your mouth shut, nobody is going to listen to you anyway.”, “Don’t make any mistakes, they are all watching you.”, “They don’t like your perspectives, so you should probably think twice about what you are going to say.”, “Do not express yourself, nobody cares anyway.”, “That was terrible Michael, and you know that was terrible.”, “You probably did worse than everybody in the group today.”, “You suck“, “You’re such a loser!,” You should feel ashamed of this.” . . . . I can go on and on about the negative thoughts that were ingrained in mind. It was as if there was a constant nagging force that was always by my side.
Normally, people who have been exposed to severe rejection, negativity, constant comparisons, belittlement and discouragement eventually becomes programmed to think this way. Even after I left environments and situations that were toxic, my mind was still programmed to expect rejection and to feel that my ideas were not important to anyone. There were several places I went to on a regular basis in my teenage years that fostered my negative emotional habits; one of the major places was tennis camp.
I have been a tennis player all my life. During my junior tennis career, I was exposed to a lot of negative forces. People constantly told me that I was terrible at playing tennis (even though I was really good), and that they didn’t want me around them at all. By the time I was ready for college tennis, my mind was so programmed towards receiving rejection that I behaved as if the tennis team did not want me around them, even though they were nice to me. I was constantly plagued with the feeling that I was not worthy. I could not even enjoy the privilege of now being in a positive team environment because self-hatred and self-condemnation was already so ingrained in me. Although I was no longer in the environments that tortured my mind, it was as if a curse lingered on to me and continued to torment my mind wherever I went.
Eventually, I dropped the tennis team, but several months later, the Lord started revealing to me my childhood issues with self-condemnation and rejection. I was introduced to a dimension of God’s love, and care that I had never experienced before. This love is the type where you sense somebody is paying attention to every single detail about you- from the way you think and feel, to why you think and feel the way you do. God led me to begin journaling- to write down every time a familiar negative emotion rose from my gut whenever I entered new situations. I would ask God, “Why do I feel this way?”, and “What’s the source of these emotions?” When I asked these questions, God started giving me flashbacks of times in my childhood where people did and said things to me that initiated unhealthy subconscious pathways in my mind and emotions. God was teaching me to love myself within my own thoughts and emotions. Today, I am still amazed by God’s Grace- that He would open up my eyes to see how much He cares for me. Even the most intricate details of my mind He cares about!
I recognized that I have the power to choose to believe what people thought of me or believe the truth of what God says of me. This allowed me to get to know God as my Father. I understood that He holds my identity and as long as it is in His hands, nobody can take it away. Psalm 56:11 says, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me..” When I meditated on this scripture, I looked at the word "trust" as meaning the property of my soul. “Give not the property of your soul over to man’s control.” I thought pretty long on this and began recalling the amount of times I so easily gave over my soul and my emotions to people who don’t even know me- people who don’t even know my end from my beginning and who don’t even care to know! I was very much baffled by this revelation, and said to myself, “It is so much better to put my trust in God, rather than in mankind. It was not man who placed breath in my body, so why do I fear man so easily?!”
I also read a book called Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges. It asked the question, “Who is your audience, man or God?” The day I read that line, my soul was challenged to address every soul-tie of fear that kept me emotionally snared to man’s expectation, because all fear actually represents is: FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. Even if there is a possibility that people will taunt me, most times there isn’t anybody condemning me in the first place. It was the enemy lying and tormenting my mind this entire time! The moment I found out this reality, I felt faith begin to inhabit areas of my mind that I was totally unaware of. I was able to see myself in God’s image and likeness more clearly, and I understood more of what it meant for His perfect love to cast out all fear.
As a believer, I began to grow more in my identity in Christ, and I became confident in the love that God freely gives to those who call on His name, with a pure heart. My relationship with Jesus grew tremendously, because now even in my mistakes, I no longer approach God’s throne with a heavy weight of condemnation. I approach God in prayer knowing that I am loved, regardless of the mistakes I have made in my faith walk. The Holy Spirit has done a tremendous work on my mind, will and emotions, and is continuing to do so. The inner workings of the spirit has allowed the walls on the inside of me to shatter, and has caused my personality to be enhanced. My personality has grown so much! I am more expressive, and more joyful and connected with people when I communicate with them. God’s grace is soooo sufficient! And I will never be able to fathom how much He really loves me.
To be a God who pays attention to even the smallest subconscious details of my mind, will and emotions, there is absolutely no God like Jehovah! I am convinced that God cares deeply for me, and that He wants me to know this! He is indeed the epitome of Love, and His Grace is more than sufficient. In this I know that I am free, and in this I know that I am never condemned.
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Facebook: @Michael Cooper