God spoke to me while I was walking and praying on our driveway, which is about a mile long, back when we lived out in the country in Washington.
I was in the process of berating myself for something or other and God spoke very clearly, one of the clearer times I’ve “heard” God’s voice.
“Never say anything about yourself that Jesus doesn’t say about you.”
That changed my life and is still changing my life, because I am still learning to follow those simple instructions.
Implications: we need to know what Jesus says about us. We need to know the words Jesus spoke in the Gospels. We need to spend time with God to learn how he speaks to us now.
This is a big can of worms that I’m barely going to open, but I’ve discovered that some people experience God speaking to them daily, almost as in an ongoing dialogue, while others, faithful life-long followers of Jesus, tell me that they have never heard God speak to them in their lives. From what I can tell, they are all talking about the same God, but they have very different personalities and God seems to interact with each of us uniquely. I think that bears further discussion another time.
Next implication: If we speak more harshly or critically to ourselves than Jesus would speak to us, we need to stop that. It won’t make us more godly. Some people think they need to be very strict and stern with themselves. Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat things, and sometimes he speaks truth very directly and bluntly, but remember, that’s truth. “You suck! You’re a failure! You’ll always be a failure!” Those aren’t truth nor do you ever see Jesus address people this way. He never calls names, except when he tells the hypocrites that they are hypocrites.
Final implication: God wants to align our view of ourselves with how Jesus sees us. Jesus loves us. He delights in us. He chose to absorb our sins into himself rather than have us suffer their full consequences, the complete damage they would do to us (we would do to ourselves). He returned love for hatred and gave his life for us while we were still his enemies. He hates to see us hurt ourselves and he wants us to experience joy to the fullest degree we possibly can. He like us better than we like ourselves. And he isn’t calling us those nasty names we’re calling ourselves.
We are walking through Lent to examine ourselves, to let God reveal our darkness and our self-destructive tendencies, to be free from these sins that damage us and others. One of the sins many of us practice without a second thought is self-criticism, self-condemnation, even self-hatred. Love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus said. We must learn to love ourselves. I have learned to love myself better as I let Jesus tell me who I am, instead of trying to tell him.