“Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932–1996)
When the world looms too large in my sight,
When strangers and powers threaten to bite,
I’m caused to reflect that the problem’s me,
Praise God, who reveals this folly so I can see!
When the world, however, dwindles in strength,
When I grow in my capacity, adding to my length,
I realise that self-acceptance is key,
Yes, Lord, now, help me to see!
As we turn on ourselves in the chasm of our distress, we find we have been flung from a world we have had success in – a world that meant so much to us – to a state of high-confusion for the attribution we’ve made from what has occurred. Plain and simple, the world got too big and made us feel small, because our expectations and hopes were based in a folly – the world and its ‘riches’.
Who has any right to call us unlovable but ourselves? None of us would put up with it, but we easily slink into this mode as we unconsciously self-judge.
When we are our own worst enemy, we work with the enemy (Satan), to agree, that we are less than what God has ordained we already are. If God has said one thing, we cannot be another. God is no liar.
God has said:
þ You are God’s child, born again of incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23; John 1:12).
þ You are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
þ You are now God’s offspring (1 John 3:2).
þ You are free in Christ (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1).
þ You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
þ … and, at least fifty other designations of truth regarding God’s acceptance of us.
Where There is No Place for Self-Rejection, There is Room for Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is a seed of hope in a time of self-uncertainty.
People can say to us, “Self-rejection is a sin,” but it doesn’t help, because it only makes us feel worse. We are the last ones who want to self-reject; and we are horrified to learn we are sinning when we do it; it’s bad enough as it is.
The greatest spiritual trap is turned on its head when we consider that risking even enough to accept ourselves, notwithstanding anything we do, whilst feeling contrite when it’s appropriate, is the key to the spiritual life.
Everything in life starts from the issues of acceptance and rejection – love and fear. To experience self-acceptance is the greatest of God’s gifts.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
The full Nouwen quote:
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, ‘Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.’ ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932–1996)