I struggled with self-hate and all that goes with it beginning in my teens.
My self-esteem was determined by what I did or didn’t accomplish or by what others thought of me. If I wasn’t the top achiever among my peers, then I was convinced I was the most worthless person in the world. There were no in-betweens.
I suffered from serious depression, eating disorders, and other destructive behavior. Several times I tried to take my life. My relentless need to be loved and accepted drove me to unhealthy relationships, which left emotional scars.
Every time someone hurt me, my outlook on life grew dimmer. The regrets in my life seemed to outweigh the good things I’d done – by a huge margin. By the time I was in my 20s, the emotional darkness closed in. I wondered if I would survive.
I knew instinctively if I didn’t begin (once and for all) to trust God, the darkness would overtake me for good. I sought Christian counseling and spent as much time as I could praying and reading the Bible.
During this time I came across Psalm 18:28. It wasn’t the first time I’d read this verse, but this time, its message “took.” It says,
“For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness” (ESV).
I clung to this verse. I desperately wanted God to lighten my darkness.
Thankfully, I learned the value of meditating on Scripture.
Regularly meditating on Scripture caused my thought life to change. It helped me see things differently. I was God’s child – loved and valued unconditionally. I knew God had forgiven me for my destructive choices and suicidal attempts. I finally understood my heavenly Father had a purpose for me. This understanding gave me a brighter outlook on my life and about myself. As I changed, 1 John 1:9 became one of my favorite verses:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Consequently, I prayed to love and forgive those who had hurt me – and asked God to show them their value in Christ.
Ultimately I realized that I needed God to help me desire Him and His love for me more than the love and approval of those around me. I was amazed (and so thrilled) at how much my outlook brightened. I finally understood what real mercy and love looked like.
Today, when I keep God’s Word in the center of my thinking, I’m healthier, happier, and more focused. More like the person I pray to be.
What about you? Is regret making your world a dark place? Are you struggling with addictions or past suicidal attempts? Hiding God’s word in your heart will invite His presence to show up in the middle of your circumstances, your relationships – even your thought life.
Will you ask God to reach into the areas of your life that desperately need it? Will you allow Him to lighten your darkness?
Copyright © Sheryl H. Boldt, used with permission.