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You’ve always heard, “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.”
What if you don’t? I mean, what if you don’t love yourself?
What if your ability to love others is crippled by an inability to see yourself as God sees you?
What if it is easier to accept that you are a sinner, but difficult to believe you are a saint?
What if you are so afraid of others seeing in you what you see in you, that you keep them at arms length?
What if you’re afraid of being loved because you are afraid of being hurt? And what if that unwillingness to be loved has hindered your ability to love?
What if you build walls to shield yourself from pain? What if those very walls are sucking the life out of you?
What if all your efforts to hide all your many imperfections is becoming a load to great for you to bear? What if you feel guilty and selfish for feeling this way? What if that guilt only compounds the problem and perpetuates this circle of self-abuse?
What if this all this is ME?
I have been my own worst enemy. I have allowed fear to rule my heart. I have hated myself. I have avoided relationships. I hid in the shadows most of my life. I have allowed hurt and regret to strangle the joy out of my life. And I’ve let all these things keep me from loving others because I could not love myself.
Many times, I have challenged the perfect nature of God by calling into question His creation of me. Surely He made a mistake or maybe I just screwed everything up because, clearly, I am broken. Something’s not right.
I cry out, “Why does everyone else seem to have it all figured out and I am totally lost? Why do I struggle at the easy things, while others seem to cruise along? Why, Lord?”
There is point in the battle when you are just too tired to keep fighting, when all you can do is surrender.
Man, I wish God was here in physical form. I wish I could fall against Him and cry until I had no more tears to cry. But no matter what, I know He’s with me and He loves me…and that is enough.
I’m letting go. Oh, Lord, help me to let go. Hanging on has been so painful. There is peace in surrender. Lord, help me surrender. I don’t want to live this way any longer. I want to love and be loved. I want to stop hating who I am. And more importantly, I want to love beyond Facebook, beyond safety, beyond comfort. I want to love like you loved the Church. I want to be willing to bear the cross, not out of self-loathing, but because I know you love me, Lord, and you made me worthy and because You loved me, I can love myself as well as others.
I don’t want it to be all about me. But I understand now that You died, not to get rid of me (because I was so terrible), but because You loved me, valued me and wanted me to be joined with You forever. My life is in You. My purpose is in You. My joy and peace are in You. To You be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
If you battle with depression, as I have all my life, there is hope in the Lord. I promise there is. Don’t give up.
God loves you, values you and has a purpose for your life. There is hope in Him, and life with Him is the beginning, not the end.
Don’t surrender to the pain.
Surrender to God.
The Hope Cross
So, what is the story behind the picture, “The Hope Cross?” Well, I was sitting alone in our living room, late last night, all sorts of dark thoughts were entering my mind. I really felt as though I was experiencing spiritual warfare, as if something was whispering lies into my head. Suicidal ideas tried to overtake my thoughts. It was as if the thoughts were not my own and I knew it. So, instead of entertaining those dark thoughts, I started listening to a Christian audiobook entitled “12 ‘Christian’ Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.” Feeling a bit better, I got on facebook and, almost immediately, a photo grabbed my attention. The photo was of someone’s wrist with a semicolon tattoo in the middle. Curious now, I followed the link to the Facebook page for The Semicolon Tattoo Project. Here is an excerpt from their Facebook page description:
The Semicolon Tattoo Project is an ongoing awareness campaign that seeks to engage communities in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. It all started as a Facebook meme. We were encouraged to draw a semicolon on our wrists to show the emotional struggles that we and our loved ones have endured or are still working through. The semicolon is a beautiful mark because it represents a sentence that an author could have ended, but chose not to. It is symbolic of our lives and how we have chosen to carry on. The Semicolon Tattoo Project
I immediately loved the idea. I looked through several of the tattoos and many of them were accompanied with the phrase, “My story isn’t over, yet!” or “My story isn’t over!” As I read those words, the message seemed to be missing something to me, as a Christian. It almost seemed to imply that while their lives weren’t over yet, eventually, they would be.
Is that the message of hope, to delay the inevitable? No, there is a far greater hope! The hope of the believer is symbolized in the cross of Jesus. So, I googled the words cross, semicolon and tattoo, in search of a symbol I had created in my mind. There were several photos of tattoos next to a cross but only one matched the symbol I was thinking of, a semicolon, embedded in a cross. In that moment, if I could have, I would have tattooed that image on my wrist that very moment (Which is saying a lot from a guy who never wanted to get a tattoo).
Unable to get a tattoo, this late at night and really not able to justify spending the money it would take to get the tattoo, considering we have so many greater needs, instead I decided to open up photoshop and create a new profile image, containing what I have now named The Hope Cross.
The message of the cross is simple. It begins much the same as the Semicolon Tattoo but is brought to greater fulfillment, through the cross. “The Hope Cross represents a life story that could have ended tragically but, instead, continues on through the Hope that is in Jesus. I was dead but now I am alive. Jesus Christ has given me new life. I am a new creation. The old has past, the new has come. My life story will NEVER end!” That is the true message of hope.
Share the Hope
Feel free to share The Hope Cross, if you identify with its message. Share it as a meme. Make it your profile pic. Share it on Instagram. Whatever you want. It’s just a way to share the testimony of your victory in Jesus Christ.
BTW Having Hope doesn’t mean that you never struggle. It simply means that you struggle is not forever and your struggle is not your own.
What is Your Story?
Do you have a story of hope? We’d love to hear from you. Who knows how your story might inspire another to receive the hope that is Jesus?