I constantly wrestle with self-hatred and shame. The source of most of this is others’ words, opinions, teachings, and assessments of me, compounded by my own critical inner voice.
As an adult, I still particularly crave my parents’ approval. It’s painful when they disapprove of something I’m doing (or not doing), or when I know my dad would think less of me if he knew my perspective on many spiritual and cultural topics.
I’ve been accused before of having unkind intentions toward someone for whom I truly did have compassion. Especially in past years, I just haven’t been able to express my care for this person in the ways others wanted me to show it – the ways they thought true care and compassion would look.
I take comfort in the fact that even Jesus was accused of being uncaring.
Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”Mark 4:38
Humans look to what they can see, but God sees our hearts and the end of the story. I’m not making a claim to perfection, but I know Jesus’ righteousness covers me, that He can sympathize with my weaknesses, and that He sees my hidden intentions and the compassion I struggle to make evident to others sometimes. Humans see our limitations; God sees His infinite beauty, love, and holiness residing within us.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
When we start walking away from the oppression of organized religion, we can face a barrage of judgment, misunderstanding, fear, anger, and even ostracization from family and friends. It is easy to quickly slip into thinking that God must be disappointed in us too. But God looks on us only with pleasure, seeing the light of Christ within us. And He would have us follow His Spirit, even into a wilderness that seems unsafe and unfamiliar to those looking on.
Often, our exoduses from oppression begin in relative isolation, but eventually attract others traveling on similar roads. If you are in this place of loneliness – perhaps wondering if you made the right choice in leaving the city of lies in favor of a spiritually liberating hermitage – may the Spirit’s voice of liberation and peace overwhelm all the voices coming from bondage and fear, and give you vision and reassurance.