Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Make the Jump

About Looking Down...

Carefully Taught

I am astounded by the number of young people who approach me with such intense self-loathing. I frequently hear them say things like…

“I hate myself; I’m so ugly, disgusting and stupid.”

“I hate myself. There’s nothing good about me.”

When I ask them, however, why they feel that way, I usually get this response:

“I don’t know.”

 “For what I am doing, I do not understand...”

Romans 7:15

Statistics show…

“One in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old, or one-half of one percent, cut themselves regularly.”

 “The three leading causes of death for 15 to 24-year-olds are automobile crashes,        homicides and suicides – alcohol is a leading factor in all three.”

 “About 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.”

“Suicide is the third- leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds in America.”

www.dosomething.org. (Used with permission).

It reminds me, of a South Pacific musical number, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” Its theme was learning racism. However, the song’s lyrics are too eerily close to teaching self-hatred:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It has to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught…”

It seems to be reflected in so many young people’s minds now. Self-hatred is never far from the conversation. Threats of suicide and self-injury often pop up.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

Unrealistic body images, consumerism, and conditional love statements are just a few examples of things which are “carefully taught.”

And we usually don’t see the damage until years later when, for instance, “all of a sudden,” someone has an eating disorder or is a cutter. And then we ask what happened?

The reality is, often times, eating disorder sufferers and self-injurers, these kids with tremendous self-hatred, are the “good kids.” They’re the pleasers, the overachievers and the ones we tell ourselves we’ll “never have to worry about.”

Perhaps, we didn’t teach these kids as carefully as we should have about their inherent, everlasting value. The kids learned all too much, all too often, toxic, manipulative and distorted lessons. And they didn’t learn our Creator’s lessons about their worth, beauty and identity.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Things like…

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4    

Whenever I speak with a young person, a large challenge I have is convincing them of this scripture’s relevant truth for them, individually and personally. They are not excluded.

“…‘God is no respecter of persons.’”

Acts 10:34

But that Truth has such toxic competition with this world’s harmful messages.

And today’s youth, unfortunately, are repeatedly “carefully taught” its destructive “exclusive” lesson. Whether it’s the preferential treatment of high school popularity, bullying or the emphasis of celebrity status, the message conveyed is often the beautiful/worthy people are included, while the worthless, ugly and defective people are to be shut out.

And another toxic message, the “conditional love” message, is also constantly bombarding us- and of course, today’s youth. Indeed, this “conditional love” can come from such avenues as popular culture, school or even from the family unit itself. Whether it’s conscious or not, intentional or not, the message is this: results are prized, warranting love, affection and positive affirmation. If, however, the individual does not obtain these desired results, then he/she feels worthless.

Vulnerable youth are often left to personalize this conditional love message. Besides eating disorders, body image and self-esteem issues, addictions, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts/actions can also occur.

These toxic messages exalt a temporary or nonexistent estimation, like image, fame, achievement or money to make someone loveable and valuable. When we, therefore, subscribe such god-like importance to them, the cries for help from our youth often occur.

Any message which promotes hatred/rejection of self is not from the Divine.

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Proverbs 10:12

That’s, perhaps, the most dangerous message a young person can receive: God hates him/her. 1 John 4:16, sadly, is not their experience.

Again, we have allowed ourselves to be carefully taught, seemingly everything else except Elohim’s Love and Word. Repeatedly, He tells us He loves each one of us- unconditionally, faithfully.

“…‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

                                                            Jeremiah 31:3

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

He commands us also love each other…

 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

But that love must begin with self. We may nod our heads and roll our eyes at that statement, but we still have so much difficulty living it. We hate ourselves in the name of achieving acceptance, popularity, success and unrealistic beauty and image standards. I’ve seen it; I’ve done it.

How many addictions, disorders and suicides does it take? Who’s expendable enough to be the sacrificial lamb? When does the insane self-hatred lesson stop being taught?

Our Father is not the enemy; often times, we are. In every harmful and wrong message, when will we accept and teach this one, when it comes to a person’s value?

 “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse


Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Function of Freedom...

Shakespeare's Advice...


My Best Enemy

"Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself."
 Nathaniel Brand

 “I’m my own worst enemy.”

Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Yet, for a lot of us, perhaps, there’s a more accurate phrase by which we live:

“I’m my own best enemy.”

We get a payoff for self-loathing, judging and berating ourselves.

“But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.”

Psalms 38:19

It can give us a license to continue our self-destructive ways. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re so awful, so unworthy, so ugly, so unlovable. Therefore no one, not others, not God and not ourselves should require anything more of us, right?


But we love to revel in being wrong.

And, come on, it takes far less hard work to hate than love, to reject than accept, to destroy rather than to build.

So, we often take this path of least resistance. We create and nurture our own best enemies, be they addictive behaviors, disorders or unhealthy choices.

However, it’s not hopeless.

After all, we have God- and His perspective on enemies:

 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

Luke 6:27-36

I know, I know. It’s a tall order. I guess these scriptures fall under the heading of Isaiah 55

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

His thoughts, our thoughts. But here’s the things about God’s thoughts: there’s nothing enemy about ‘em…

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

So, nine times out of ten, if there is an enemy in our midst, it’s coming from us. We are our own worst/best enemy.

And again, that would be completely hopeless, were it not for one thing: God (Thank God)!

And His different perspective on the enemy issue. God doesn’t seemed to be intimidated by it at all.

He appears to have a plan, even while our enemies, outside ones or self-inflicted, are creating havoc in our lives.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

Psalms 23:5

In fact, there’s even some built-in reconciliation going on there, in spite of us…

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Romans 5:10

 With that being said, however, there’s still some work which needs to be done on our part; we’re responsible for our thoughts and their impact on us:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

It’s not entirely up to us; after all, there’s God. But we DO need to accept responsibility for our part in the behaviors.

We need to get honest with the unflattering reality.

 And then, it’s up to us to choose what we’ll do from then on…

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

And so, once again, concerning our self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, be

they addictions, disorders or compulsions, we can purposely concentrate on viewing ourselves differently. We can choose NOT to be our own worst/best enemy.

As one recovered from disordered eating, these affirmations are just a sampling of positive affirmations.

Body Image Links

Compiled by Margo Maine, Ph. D.

  1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
  2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
  3. Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
  5. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  6. Don't let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  7. Wear comfortable clothes that you like and that feel good to your body.
  8. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  9. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
  10. Be your body's friend and supporter, not its enemy.
  11. Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary--begin to respect and appreciate it.
  12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  14. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don't exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.
  15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Tell yourself you can feel like that again, even in this body at this age.
  16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself--without mentioning your appearance. Add to it!
  17. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, "I'm beautiful inside and out."
  18. Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  19. Start saying to yourself, "Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way."
  20. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

Reprinted with permission from the National Eating Disorders Association. For more information: www.NationalEatingDisorders.org.

Scripture gets right to the point…

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:31

God’s not our enemy. But if WE are our own notorious adversary, what are WE going to do about that?

Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse