For many years, I had a problem. I refused to be loved.
I had many well-meaning friends, a loving family, coworkers who actually cared about me, and others trying to pour into my life. I rejected them all. I fed off their pity, denied all their compliments, felt I had to repay all their gifts threefold, and never believed they really cared.
Then something wonderful happened…
I let myself be loved. It started with an unlikely source, at least to my mind: God. For years, I hated Him and blamed Him for everything that was wrong in my life. Then I started going to church and He started working on my heart. I came to accept that He loved me and was able to see that all that I had been through was part of His plan for me.
It’s been about five years since this change started. I thought I was pretty far along, but marriage has opened my eyes to the fact that I still need to let myself be loved more, that I still struggle with accepting that a beautiful, intelligent, sweet, caring young woman would want to be with me and do things to make me happy.
I think when our self-esteem is low, it’s hard to accept love from other people, which is tragic because that is when we need love the most. We seem to reject love for several reasons:
1. We doubt the motives of those who are nice to us. For years, when I got compliments, I’d deny them because I thought they weren’t true and I didn’t deserve them. I thought people were just being nice to me to cheer me up. I doubted their motives, and so doubted everything they did. If I was so great, I reasoned, why was usually left out of their plans and close to no one?
Whatever the motives of people who are nice to you (and most who are actually do care about you), God’s motives are always pure and true. He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) and we cannot give Him anything that makes Him greater or worthier of glory. We cannot harm Him by rejecting Him. Thus, there are no selfish motives in His love for us, meaning all of the care He shows us is for our own good. He was thus honest and pure when He sent Jesus to die for us.
The compliments or care of others may be false, but His love for you never is.
2. We don’t think we deserve it.
You may or may not deserve compliments. You may or may not be considered awesome by some people. The truth, though, is that it doesn’t matter. You don’t deserve love from God. If you did, it wouldn’t be love, but a reward. A company doesn’t pay its employees because it loves them; it pays them because of their work. The employee agree to work for money; when they do, they’re paid. No love necessary. Love is only necessary when it’s undeserved. And God loves you, for no other reason than that He has chosen to love you.
3. You might like the attention that being pitied gives you. I used to like it. I used to thrive on it. Whole relationships were built around me being pitied. Subconsciously, I couldn’t let myself truly be loved because then I’d have no reason to be so down on myself.
This is a hard one to overcome because it involves going into bold new territory. If you are like I was, I want you to know that not needing attention from others is so much better than relying on them for my self-worth. I can enjoy being around them and, more importantly, enjoy being around myself.
If you’re a Christian who rejects love, then you need to remember that the very basis of your belief is accepting love, for if you don’t accept Jesus’ sacrifice for you, you are not a Christian. Why would you accept the love of God in the strongest way possible, yet not accept His love in other areas? Why would you accept the love of God, yet not accept the love of others who are both equal with you and infinitely below God? And why would you deny yourself the thing you’re seeking so desperately when it’s being freely offered?
The truth is that regardless of your successes, failures, sins, accomplishments, possessions, relationships, or anything else, God loves you. If He made you earn it, it wouldn’t be love. Your job is not then to earn it, but to get your pride out of the way and accept it. Compared with Him, you have no reason to be proud anyway.