We all know things about ourselves that need to change. And many times we have even struggled to change them. At times our effort is successful, and other times we fight to change things about ourselves and end up discouraged by our lack of success. There are things that our loved ones tell us need to change just to add to our list of things we struggle to become. Everyone of us can compile a list if we think about it of things that we don’t like about ourselves and want to change.
The list is endless and as diverse as we are. Everything from weight issues and body types, to personality quirks. Our lists include addictions and behaviors. Some behaviors are learned and we have developed them as we seek to be included in our world, or to protect ourselves from it. Regardless of where you grew up, or your social status in life you have a list. There are a lot of things about ourselves that we don’t like. And many of them we have hidden away securely so that we don’t have to see them and hopefully no one else finds out about them. Unfortunately our hiding them away has not helped us in any way.
“Self-acceptance and self-knowing are deeply interconnected. To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted—even embraced. Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance.” And the self that you must accept is the self that you actually and truly are—before you start your self-improvement projects!” David G. Benner
In order for us to truly change we need to see ourselves as we are, and accept ourselves as we are. This can be very difficult for us to do because there is a lot of ourselves that we find unacceptable and fight to guard and keep hidden. This behavior has caused many of the struggles we now face, because a behavior, or part of ourselves that we keep locked away does not go away and it doesn’t get weaker. In fact the behaviors and traits we hide away get stronger and more aggressive, and when they break free and get loose they always appear in greater intensity and there is often a disaster. It is like trying to bottle up a volcano. It may appear to be calm and serene on the surface, but what we ignore is brewing in intensity and will eventually explode and it always explodes away from where we hid it.
Which is why we often don’t connect our behaviors to their cause, and we end up fighting the symptoms of an issue and never deal with the root. And this is why we don’t have lasting changes in our lives. As we accept ourselves regardless of what we find we can then see what actually needs to change and begin the healing or learning process which allows the changes to happen.
All of this is made possible as we learn to accept ourselves as God accepts us. For many people acceptance is a myth because they do not know the love and acceptance of God. We have conditions on God’s approval and love for us, and it is always based on our performance. We feel if we can just be good enough, and do right enough God will love us. And this behavior is completely against scripture. Romans 5:8 says “He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready.” MSG God isn’t waiting for us to be acceptable to love us, He loves us unconditionally just as we are. We cannot do anything to earn His love, and His love for us cannot be diminished or increased.
We need to allow God to reveal His love to us and truly understand what it means to be unconditionally loved, and to experience this love personally. This was what Paul was praying for when he wrote “ And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT
As we experience this love and acceptance it allows us the ability to look into the areas of life that we have been unwilling or unable to look. And as we do we will find God there waiting for us each and every time, and the pain of the experience will be surrounded and invaded by the love that God has for us, and we will find ourselves knowing ourselves, and in the process we can know God more as well. We can only change as we allow our lives to come under inspection and open the doors to the things we have kept locked away and allow the love and life of God to fill those areas of our hearts.