Monday, February 27, 2012

I Think I'll Eat Some Worms

I am constantly amazed by the nonstop doctrine women seem to get on the issue of happiness. It seems that we are told by everyone in the world, that we need to love ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are. We need to look in the mirror and love the person that is there, instead of agonizing over our shortcomings and faults.

This seems to be simple good advice, but maybe that's because we hear this everywhere we look. However, Jesus stated that the second greatest commandment was to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). In stating this, He was quoting Leviticus 19, which gives specific instructions on how to love your neighbor. The Bible, then, takes it for granted that you love yourself already. It would be impossible to command someone to love their neighbor "as themself," if that person was incapable of doing so.

What is it, then, when a woman is highly self-critical? Whether she hates the way she looks, or her body shape, or her clothing, or the way she talks, etc., etc.? Is this really self-hatred? Does she only need to learn to love herself?

I would submit that the answer is no. Constantly thinking about the way she looks or her own faults is a form of self-love--in fact, it's too much of it. If you're constantly thinking of yourself--even if it is criticism--you are being, quite practically, self-centered. Everyone notices the way you look bad, everyone notices what you just said, everyone is thinking about how you don't look appropriate.

The solution to this self-centeredness, is certainly not more of it. The last thing a lady in this type of trouble needs is more time to focus on herself. However, what she does need is a healthy dose of self-lessness. Instead of thinking about her own problems, her own looks, her own issues, what she needs is to forget about herself. Busy and productive women don't have the time to obsess about themselves, and this selflessness is what truly leads to lasting happiness. Truly giving selflessly what we are and what we have is a death that God rewards with resurrection joy.

This is not a morbid, begrudging giving, as in, "I'm just a doormat, I'll give everything to everyone else, no one cares about me"--which is just another form, once again, of self-centeredness. But this is a joyful offering of worship to God, in all the charity we give to our neighbor. As C.S. Lewis said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."