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Overcoming Self Criticism and Self Doubt
Rev. Frank Schaefer

 

PowerPoint Presentation

Scripture Reading:

Romans 8:31, 38-39
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We sang songs about God’s affirmation of us, we heard Scripture passage that is super affirming. We are supposed to accept and love ourselves for who God created us to be, and yet, I bet you, most of us here this morning don’t have that positive, affirming relationship with ourselves. Many of us are much more critical of ourselves than we are of others. We’ll give other people the benefit of the doubt, but we won’t give ourselves any slack at all.

To answer the question Paul raised in Romans 8: If God is for me, who can be against me...it’s me, I am against me. I am my worst enemy. And I have to live with myself. I can’t just walk away from myself.  On a recent stroll through downtown, I saw an older man holding up a sign that said: old, ugly and homeless, followed by a an invitation to donate a couple of bucks. I looked at him and did not think he was ugly at all. It was all in his head. A perfect illustration of how self-condemnation works.

I've seen it many times in other people, good people, God's people. They have fallen victim to self-criticism and self doubt.

Some call this accuser “Satan” or “the devil.” The Greek word Satanas, however, is not a name, it's a word that translates into the English as “enemy.” From what I've seen, this accuser lives inside all of us. It's like that little devil that sits on our shoulder and whispers accusations into our ear. As I see it, the inner critic is the biggest reason we cannot love or forgive ourselves. So, why don't we just ignore that evil voice?

It's easier said than done, isn't it? Whenever we do mess up, the inner accuser will tell us that we blew it with God, that God turned away from us in disgust, that we may as well throw in the towel. And we tend to believe that voice. I don't know why, maybe it has to do with our upbringing, all the negative things we've been told. Or maybe it's just a human phenomenon.

The inner critic is able to exaggerate the negative to a point that the positive vanishes. You may have made many good decisions, but you make one bad decision and it feels like you always make wrong decisions. The inner critic whispers into your ear: you got it wrong again.

I’ll be sitting in the living room all by myself and suddenly go out loud: o crap” as I relieve a conversation or something else I think I messed up. And I’ll feel embarrassed all over again as my inner critic tries to tear my confidence down.

I hate traffic, especially because no matter what lane I get into, that's going to be the slowest of them all; cars passing left and right. I swear. But if I think about it, do I really believe that God steers the entire universe so that I end up in the slowest lane? Angel one to angel two: “Schaefer just got into the middle lane, make sure an 18 wheeler pulls into his lane ahead.” Statistically impossible. But the inner accuser is not interested in the truth. The inner accuser is a liar and the only reason we listen to this voice is because we've done it for so long it feels familiar and therefore true.

Since I first shared about this, I have had less of a negative and degrading attitude in traffic, mostly because I’ve been driving my motorcycle more and with the CA weave I never get stuck in traffic again.

But seriously, I find myself still thinking so negatively.
Lecture I have to give….I feel inadequate. Inner voice: ppl will think you’re an idiot. You havent done this before, You’ve not been in an academic setting in 14 years.
I’ve am writing speeches for most every Sunday.

According to Rev. 12:10, the inner accuser is a liar; the accuser of our brothers and sister s will one day be destroyed. The truth is that even when we mess up, we can always come to God and ask for forgiveness, be forgiven and get right back up on our horse. Don't think that God is so naïve to think that we won't make mistakes. Trust me, God knows that failures and even incredibly stupid acts are part of being human.

In 1 John 2:1 we read: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Now, that's the other voice that we should listen to. The one that says that no matter how much we mess up, there is forgiveness, and there is an advocate on our side, no other than Jesus Christ.

The truth is that when God looks at us, even amidst our failures and mistakes, he sees in us only the good, forgiving the bad. God is proud of you and me. God is our Parent, our creator. Truth is that as we follow Jesus into baptism and discipleship, the call of God to Jesus become our call: “You are my beloved child in whom I delight.”

Whose voice will you believe today? Accept yourself as God accepts you. Lift up your head and forgive yourself as God has forgiven you already. Take it easy on yourself. You are beloved and all God wants you to do is walk with a little faith in your step.