One of the insidious tragedies of mortality is self-loathing. I dedicated a handful of posts about this topic months ago (see Personal Preparedness). But, after listening to several conference talks, it is apparent that our Church leaders are seeing this as a problem still plaguing too many people. As such, self-loathing becomes an obstacle to our happiness.
Of course, there is no simple solution. But, I wonder, if Christ’s mortal ministry were today, and He was charged with healing the sick and casting out devils, as He did 2,000 years ago, would one of those demons be called Self-Loathing instead of Legion.
One of the root causes that feeds this demon is feeling unlovable. This feeling typically stems from feelings of guilt and inadequacy. When we convince ourselves that we are no good, it is only a small step away from telling ourselves that we are so lost that even God cannot love us. The more we despair, the more we feed the demon.
So, how do we combat this plague that is sapping our strength?
One hint comes from President Uchtdorf’s April 2013 talk called Four Titles. Though this talk was to the Priesthood brethren, it has application to all of us. He stated in this talk:
It can be discouraging at times to know what it means to be a [child] of God and yet come up short. The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your sins instead of your divine potential. [Brothers and sisters], don’t listen to him.
He went on to talk about parenting a toddler who is learning to walk. Part of the learning process involves standing, stepping, falling, and doing it all over again. Failure is an integral part of learning how to walk. Along with failure comes frustration and pain. But no parent would think less of a toddler because he or she falls down. Instead, we encourage, soothe, and help them try again.
President Uchtdorf went on to compare each of us in this mortal experience as toddlers in the eyes of God. Mortality is all about standing, stepping, falling, and doing it all over again. God does not get angry at our failings. His love for us is not dependent on our success. He simply wants us to stand up and try again.
When viewing God as a patient parent to a earth full of toddlers, it should change our thought process about our ability to be loved. We all fall short. We all repeat sins that we want to overcome. Through this process of falling, failing, and frustration, we need to have hope that God simply loves us. He loves us because He is our Father. He loves us perfectly so His love is not subject to change.
We cannot make Him love us more through our successes and He will never love us less because of our failings. God’s love for us is an absolute. When we have the courage to tap into God’s love. we allow Christ to exercise that demon called Self-Loathing. Only then can we be healed.