Don’t Should or Ought on yourself!


We all have played the self-hatred game. The evil one takes pride in watching us volley the hate back and forth at ourselves. Yet God speaks words of truth over us from the very beginning. Join Josh & his guests for a conversation about the importance of uncovering self-hatred and the great value of self-acceptance.

Guests: Kit Elmer and James Craig


Repent and Believe – Daily Repentance
Fleming Rutledge – The Crucifixion

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:07
So I wanted to I’m gonna, I’m here with Kit Elmer and James Craig, I wanted to talk to you guys about something. And here’s, here’s the frame up. I think a lot of times I’ve sat with somebody in my office, and they’re struggling with some ongoing sin, usually an ongoing sexual sin. And as I’m listening, like, I can hear their zeal, I can hear their desire to change, I can hear their community, maybe sometimes their community around them really wants them to change is really being helpful to like, we’re all for it, we’re here to help you. But I started recognize in in some of those settings, some of the zeal is actually really, really bad because it is rooted in self hatred or self rejection. And I don’t think it’s always initially visible, I don’t even think sometimes people know that’s what they’re operating out of. So I want to talk to you guys wanting to have a conversation about self hatred, versus self acceptance, what those things are about why it matters, where they are in the realm of motivation, and are they good motivation, those kinds of things? So let me just I that’s not a very good question. But what comes to mind for you, when you hear the words self rejection or self acceptance, service, self rejection, what comes to mind for you and hear the word self rejection?

James 1:37
It ties quickly for me to shame. And some of the differences between guilt and shame that the idea that I’m speaking from my Western understanding of shame, but the idea that I am bad in an irredeemable kind of way, yeah, this this idea of shame versus guilt, which can, I guess, be either positive or negative to some extent, which is that I did something bad. I think, when I’ve experienced that kind of self hatred, I’ve realized that it’s tied to that route of shame in my heart.

Josh 2:06
Yeah. I love the distinction there. I think that’s really helpful for people like, guilt is I did something wrong. Shame is you said, irredeemably bad. And an old colleague of mine put it this way to say it’s not just it’s not just that I’m, I’m bad. It’s also that I’m uniquely bad, like, other people aren’t bad, like, I’m bad, right? Yeah, those are, that’s shame in a really unhealthy, toxic way. And I think it is related to that to self rejection, self hatred,

Kit 2:32
James, I love that you just brought back kind of a sweet memory for me, when I was a little girl, my mom made a point always of saying, you know, what you did just now, you know, that behavior was was was not good was not bad, but but she never said, You’re a bad girl. And she made a point of always, always teaching us that from a very young age. And so I just think that’s a sweet memory you just brought back and how important it is that we separate, you know who we are from a behavior that we aren’t what we do.

James 3:05
Yeah, as I’ve been sort of on this healing journey, a lot of time with regeneration, God’s brought up different memories like that. And one of them that my mom actually shared with me was that when I was, I think four or five years old, I just, I got in trouble for acting out at the dinner table with guests. And she took me to the backroom to discipline me. And she just remember, she recalled for me, that I went on saying, I am a bad boy, I just repeat it over and over and over. And I have no doubt that that’s been tied to this journey of healing and figuring out what, what does self acceptance look like? In in a Christian sense?

Josh 3:44
Yeah. So so to tag on, I think like, sometimes, whether consciously or unconsciously, I think sometimes in a Christian sense, people have this idea that there’s a version of self hatred or something they’re feeling around the area of self hatred or shame, that they think is good, because it feels like a motivation to change. So, you know, I recognize that I’ve done these bad things. And I feel some sense of shame about myself in that toxic negative way. And so I want to change. And meanwhile, there can be other Christians around them, who see their zeal to change and are going good. Amen. Yeah, keep at it, and even applauding them. It’s like, you know, man, you just have such passion for God, I see how you’re getting after this is so good, like, you obviously love him. And all the while there’s this, it’s not love. It’s self hatred. So maybe we can even just kind of I mean, it sounds like a maybe a crazy question, but how, how do you distinguish sometimes the difference between like, being motivated to change out of self hatred or self rejection versus being motivated out of a different better motivation? Like what how do you distinguish How do you know?

Kit 4:50
I think you know, when I am able to and this has been a long time and learning and continue to learn when I really allow God to To love me and I actually feel the depth of that, I am so much more empowered to, to change than if I’m, you know, just white knuckling it, you know, and so I think the, the, the fact that if I can really take that reality in that God has for me with me, loves me accepts me no matter what, like that is already creating, you know, an impetus to to change, right and

James 5:33
the kindness of God is what leads us to repentance. And I think I’ve started to really realize this in my own life, I grew up in a very conservative, you know, good evangelical sort of home. But I had, so I’ve had trouble my almost entire life. I’m a little bit younger, in this trio here. But I’ve had trouble with with daily times with God, I just, I knew I should. And I felt the guilt that I wasn’t, whether it’s time in prayer or time in the Bible. And it wasn’t until my pastor this past year, spoke a message that was so full of grace, and I’m not even fully sure how to dissect how he did it. But I didn’t walk away with any shame. I actually walked away. And pretty much for the last nine months or so, daily, desiring, covering the Bible was revolutionary. Wow. Yeah.

Josh 6:23
So this is a side note, but I think it’s a it’s a sidecar. It actually fits with this. When I sit down with people, and even look at my own life, and they people say stuff like I really need to be better about spending time in the world, or spending time alone with God and that devotional time. And if you ask them the question, I think most people say stuff like, well, I just need to become more disciplined, I need more discipline. And I find like, Well, actually, it’s, it’s probably not that it’s probably I mean, you might need discipline, but it’s probably not rooted in a lack of discipline, as much as it is a misperception of how God is going to meet you in that time, or what like, what his posture is like towards you. So in that light, then that recognizing that God’s kindness leads us to repentance, that God is loving, that he is gracious, that he is tender hearted, that His mercies are new every morning, that he actually that he loves us and likes us and wants to be with us. I mean, who wants to start their day with somebody who’s like, looking critically at the previous day and saying, like, and why do you keep falling asleep? Wait, what’s what’s wrong with you? Like, you’re, you’re driving me crazy, like, like, I don’t want to, like I’d rather spend that I’d rather look, it looks through my news feed and spending time with somebody like that in the morning, I’m already in a bad enough mood. Right. So yeah. Anyway,

Kit 7:30
and I think, you know, so a good indicator of some of that, that self loathing stuff is is for me, when I get caught up in shoulds, and oughts, you know, like, that’s an indication that I am like, not okay, that I am not feeling God’s love that I’m not feeling self acceptance, because like, Oh, I should, I should, you know, read my Bible, I should call this person I ought to, I should, and, you know, shooting yourself, you know, just like, it’s, it’s, it’s really very destructive. And so for me, that’s a, you know, I thought that was people pleasing was, you know, a kind thing to do, maybe for people and not a bad thing for myself, but it actually is, you know, a symptom for me of, of some self rejection. And

James 8:20
yeah, that actually brings up, my therapist and I talked through this idea of coercion. And the way, our course of the course of this of our parents can lead us to actually believe that we don’t have anything good. We don’t have like a real will. And I’ve actually realized that in my life, part of my self rejection has been, well, I’m convinced that I’m so depraved that this makes sense that I would go to pornography, and they’re like, what else would make sense, you know, and part of what God’s been undoing, as I’ve been become aware of these principles is realizing I have a will actually willing to do and I think recently, in the podcast, you mentioned that Josh, that Dallas Willard talks about the ability to control our thoughts, you know, it’s a significant part of who we are and our ability to act in the world. And I’ve seen that in my life, the more I realized I have a will to do good and to love God, the more I’ve been able to move away from some of that self rejection.

Josh 9:19
And so we had to slow that down a little bit. Because that there’s that’s meat that you’re sharing, and I think I love it. So the the kit, you brought up the shooting and auditing all over ourselves kind of thing, like that’s one way to approach change or getting better or doing better in life. And James, part of what I hear you saying is like that, that those messages come from a place that that or can come from a place at least, that believe that we actually don’t want to that we don’t have a goodwill that we don’t have goodness in us that would be drawn to God or would be drawn to doing the good things. And so we resort to shoulds and oughts because we think we need them whereas as opposed to The spirit of living God is in me a story that was meant for me and I’ve shared this in other places. But I remember when I first started my regeneration years ago, shooting an audit on myself. And, and feeling just terrible about how poorly I was doing in the realm of sexual wholeness and walking and sexual integrity. And I remember coming in and reporting the bad news of how my week went to my small group. And I included in there, just for brevity sake, I included, like, you know, ways that I tried to do well, but I ended up doing poorly. And so I had a fall or two during the course of the week. And I remember my small group leader saying to me at that time, his response, immediate response is way to go, Josh, way to go. And I remember saying, what, what are you saying way to go to I just told you that, despite all my best efforts, I botched it. And he’s like, but look at all the good things that you did, which I didn’t think I had permission to do because I botched it because I fell. And then and I was so still dismissing his like his helpfulness and I. And I said to him, or he said to me said, Josh, where do you think the good stuff that you did came from? And I knew what he was saying. And but I so I again, it was really negative shame, self hatefulness, I said, well, it didn’t come from me. Because I would just I couldn’t see that there was good to me. But even his response, really, I think speaks what you’re saying he his response was like, it came from where it came from guys. Right? Who is in you? And I think that was like the beginning of stoking some of those coals, like, wait a minute, yeah, God’s goodness is in me, What do you mean? Like, I want to I want to breathe that into flame. So So can I let me just turn that is a hinge then. So self rejection is not a great motivator to change. self acceptance is let’s talk about that. Like, and, like, what comes to mind when you hear self acceptance. And, and I know there, there are some Christians who are listening who’d be like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no, nothing good resides in me, I’m, you know, I was me, I’m a sinful man, like, so. Like, how do we parse out like, what, what role does self acceptance play in change in sanctification in this journey towards wholeness, Josh, I

James 12:01
mean, that listener that that you just described was me, as I walked in the doors of regeneration A few years ago, I was so utterly convinced of the badness of who I was. And what’s ironic about some of the, I guess, theological doctrine that I was steeped in at the time, was that it spoke about the total depravity of man, but what it sometimes failed, emphasizes that this man, before he’s in Christ, and now, man, you know, we are new creations in Christ. I’m not saying whether or not I support that doctrine in and of itself at this point. But I started to realize through the help of this ministry, that there, there is a lot more good than I could have ever imagined. Because of what God’s done, first of all, that I made in His image. And second of all, that he is regenerated me into a new creation, who he is spirit is infused with my spirit, just willing and doing good. And so I can actually now look at the good that I do and glorify God, and accept myself in a different kind of way. What do you think about that guy?

Kit 13:07
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think we forget, don’t we that, like you said, God created us in His image. And He created us to be good, like, and his, his intention was, I’m going to create, you know, James, when I, I’m going to create you, and you’re going to be good, and you’re going to be tender, and you’re going to be all these wonderful things. Once you’re born into the world, you know, you do start to get wounded, and you might start to protect yourself. But his intention was to create goodness. And his intention is to redeem anything that comes against that. And that’s who he is. And that’s who we are. And we do forget that. And yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to think about that. It’s like, Oh, yeah, that’s what his intention was to create goodness in me and to give me goodness to heal those places that are hurt.

James 13:53
Yeah, this is how you know, like, you’re kind of stuck in something is when you read the Bible, and you skip over things that are that don’t agree, and I actually was so utterly convinced that humanity is so bad. You know, I was pulling from that one verse where Jesus says, No man is good that I completely ignored the Proverbs the epistles and the places that biblical authors actually call men and women good. Yeah.

Josh 14:19
Well, it’s funny cuz not funny. Maybe it’s sad like I think psychology has been teaching for years that positive affirmation does more good than than the negative. And we’re not trying to say like, you know, there’s nothing bad in us. There’s nothing Paul’s clear in Romans seven. That is like, the one he wants to do do do good is keeps on sending in these ways. There is sin that dwells in us we do have to wrestle with the old man. And we were initially created. Romans, sorry, from we were initially created. Genesis one and two, very good. And the fall has has reached all sorts of hagaman. We are we are worse. And we know, like there’s there’s sin is not something that you just kind of stopped doing. It’s, it’s, you know it when it’s in us, it messes with us. And yet Christ has redeemed us and is redeeming us, he has saved us, he is saving us what he has begun and he’s gonna bring through the day of completion. And for me, I think self acceptance has to start with that belief that God has like us or saying that God has made us very good. And that his heart is, is for our goodness, not for our badness to get in line, but for our goodness. And that is so encouraging and so motivating on so many levels. And in the, in that context, and I unsetting only in that context, then can we more aptly stare at the the evil enough the ugliness the yet to be formed to transform places in us and say what they are honestly to say, and I did this, and that was sin. That was evil. That was wrong. I’m sorry. Like, I don’t I think I think unless we are rooted and grounded in the in the goodness that God has sewn into us and what he’s done through redemption in Christ. I think it’s hard. It’s hard to otherwise how do we how do we face those really awful place in us,

James 16:07
and part of what we have to start to realize that we’re not, we’re no longer the prime enemy. Oh, yeah. And a local pastor really got into this, if we’re, if we’re just chasing ourselves as the enemy, we’re just gonna be chasing our tail. And the real enemy is wreaking havoc all around us. I mean, Paul makes very clear, in Ephesians, that we no longer are wrestling with flesh and blood, but against principalities, you know, of this world. And so I think we have to keep in mind that the enemy is the enemy, we are no longer the enemy. And so when we start to come to terms with that, we no longer have to, you know, criticize ourselves in the same kind of way. So can we just as a second, we put in the shownotes, the link to that sermon, because I think, because Mark Stevenson is the pastor of a local church, and he was just, I don’t know if he was referring it or what, but he went into this, like, like the enemy, part of his goal is to get us to believe that we’re that we’re the ones who are doing who are the bad ones.

Josh 17:03
So that we stop, like, recognizing he’s at play, he’s fighting him. Yeah.

Kit 17:09
Here’s a really simple practical to that I’ve done a lot in my life with guided prayer, and I do with women I meet with is to imagine that God is looking at you. And you’re able to see yourself the way God sees you, that He created you with love and with goodness. And so imagine that he is looking at you right? Now, imagine what he’s seeing. That’s reality. And that can be a really practical prayer. That creates a lot of power, it sounds pretty simple. But it actually can be really powerful.

Josh 17:50
So let me do this. So because I think that one of the difficulties, maybe we can close out in a minute with maybe you just praying for our listeners specifically in that way, or kind of leading a server in that way. But before we get there, I just want to throw out a very real obstacle to that. I think for a lot of people, when we imagine God looking at us, we can’t see him looking at us with eyes of love that see good in us. Yeah, and some of the reasons for that could be anything from the wounds that we’ve experienced in our own lives, where we literally were looked on with loathing or with hatred. Some of it can be our own practicing self hatred in our lives where we’re so used to that it’s just we, you know, that’s a filter in grid that we’re seeing the world through. Some of it can come through unforgiveness areas, that that we’re we’re still in bondage, and we don’t realize it because we’re holding somebody else to a standard they can’t keep and so we we can’t, we can’t see ourselves through a grid of God’s love. And some of it can be demonic. And I think there’s some other I mean, there’s certainly other things to look at. So I think unconfessed sin can be another where it’s just too hard for us to receive. Yeah. So let me just close out with one thought we could talk about another podcast. But there’s a difference between God’s conviction, which comes with eyes of love with his heart towards us, that is good. And the enemy’s accusation, which comes to pull us away from God. And so I think one sign that you’re that, you know, distinction between God and the enemy, that our conviction and accusation accusation will always try to drive you away from God and towards isolation or towards legalism, and kind of self saving, or conviction always draws you to the Lord. So good. Yeah. So, so much more we can say about that. But I just wanted to Yeah, I guess say that to say if you’re listening, and you’re wrestling with some of these things, and having a hard time sitting before the eyes of your loving Father, forgiving in Christ alive in Christ, taking your identity in Christ. That’s one of the reasons that regeneration is here in our heart beats for that so we’d love for you to reach out to us we’d love to walk with you. But so if in doubt about God’s love for you. We just last basic point is Jesus on the cross. And Fleming Rutledge asks this question in her book, the crucifixion, she says, Is Jesus on the cross just telling us something? Or is he actually doing Something is accomplishing something. And we hold here regeneration for sure that he is accomplishing something that what James was talking about before the newness, the new identity in Christ is a real. It’s something that Jesus has truly captured truly done through he is the second Adam, who has taken away sin and death for our sake. And we can live into that by believing into that so so kids can lead us out in time of prayer kit, thank you for that. But if so, if you’re driving, if you’re walking, if you’re, you know, in a busy place, we don’t want to just encourage you to like, press pause for a moment and just just be in this moment with with the Lord as kit prays for us.

Kit 20:37
Lord, You have given us an incredible gift in our imagination. In our imagination, Lord, we can we can imagine something intensely enough as to experience it, and we can imagine you right now, Lord, I pray that we would take a moment and imagine a safe place where we would feel a sense of well being a sense of rest. And that we would be able to see you sense you Your presence. And that we would be reminded that you are good, that you are that, that there is deep kindness and graciousness and mercy in your being. And it’s there for us to receive. So for each one of us thought if we could just receive that behold that trust that believe in that, that when you look at us, you see goodness and redemption, and hope. Thank you, Lord, Amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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