(Image courtesy of https://ohmy.disney.com.)
I love to hate myself.

It's a paradox that I've somehow been able to master. When I was younger,
especially during my late elementary and early middle school years, I found great enjoyment in tearing myself down. I would tell myself I was no good, a waste of space, unfit for love, utterly worthless. This is something I call emotional cutting. By doing this to myself, I felt better about myself; somehow, it gave me similar effects to physical cutting.

I have since then gotten better at lessening my time spent cutting myself down. Notice how I said "lessening the time," meaning, it still happens. And although God has brought me far from where I was when I was a child, I still struggle with believing I am worth anything. Yes, I even struggle with believing Jesus loves me, which is ironic since I tell people Jesus loves them (and mean it) all the time. It takes great faith for me to believe that Jesus loves me, I think more so than a lot of people.

Anxiety disorder runs in my family history. I always outwardly denied this, though inwardly could see its effect in my own life. I still refuse and will always refuse to be identified or labeled as this; I don't want a crutch. But the science doesn't lie.

Self-loathing is connected with anxiety disorder. Feelings of inadequacy, the fear of social rejection, and an extreme sensitivity to criticism characterize this disorder (National Alliance on Mental Illness). I most definitely struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I usually dismiss these feelings, relying instead on the power of God who can do immeasurably more than we can ever think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This, of course, is true; however, God also created us with certain gifts and talents that we should be confident with. Self-confidence is the mark of a good leader, pleasant person, and follower of God who knows his worth in Christ. Secondly, the fear of social rejection, I would say, is common among all beings who call themselves human. If you don't believe me, spend time on an elementary school playground. But bring your Kleenex box. Lastly, I have an extreme sensitivity to criticism. I am already extremely critical of myself so when someone else points out my faults I get immediately depressed. Now that I am older, however, I have been able to be less sensitive. I attribute this growth to God. In sports, there are players who respond better to being "ripped" and some who respond better to quiet encouragement. I was definitely the player who did not respond well to being ripped by my coach. If I missed a shot in basketball or missed my assignment in football, I certainly didn't need my coach telling me that. I already knew. Not only did I know that, but I could have told you one million other things I did wrong as well. Getting yelled at made me want to quit, not try harder. (As a coach now, I try to see this early and adjust.)

But why do I write about this now, at the age of 24? I guess because I have been feeling down lately. This morning, while trying hard not to beat myself up too much for my failures as a Christian, I wrote:
"I am so critical of myself. I say, 'God loves you' to other people but I don't know if I believe it for myself. I mess up all the time. How can I call myself a Christian when I am so selfish? Lord, I need an intervention. Change me please. I'm weak. You're strong. I want this part of me to die. I want You to live. For I cannot live this Christian lifestyle - it is too hard. I need You."
Indeed, I do need Jesus. We all do. Where would we be without His unconditional love? Ever since middle school, I have prayed for confidence, for boldness, and for courage. God has been answering that prayer slowly but surely. I am so thankful for His power.

There are two choices I can make now: to give in to these thoughts or to push through them.

Romans 12:2 says, "to be transformed by the renewing of your mind...." I have a choice to ask for transformation or to resist it. Lord, transform my mind, that I may know Your love and live in it.

"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th" (Julie Andrews).