Faith: Despise behavior, but don't despise yourself

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. - St. John 15:1-3

From the throes of spiritual turmoil arose a desperately needed epiphany, and I suddenly realized that I no longer despise myself.

I have finally stopped hating me, me who God created in His own likeness. I had spent years beating myself up over falling miserably short of my own expectations, as well as God's glory, and many more years gathering up God's love through His Word, the Holy Bible.

The more I received His gift of Love (Jesus), the more He whittled away the more glaring character traits that had previously afforded me only self destruction.

The turmoil: "God, I hate my evil ways of thinking and speaking," I had cried to my Maker, while tears drenched my softened heart. My heart hadn't been so soft a minute before, when coarse whispered vulgarities escaped my mouth to reflect the ugliness of my spiritual condition, hence my mental state.

I had been ill the day before and still not feeling well enough to participate in a tedious outing that involved the company of a person imbued with chronic bitterness. One yucky comment from said person triggered in me a haphazard ground display of fireworks. And so, my attitude began to crackle with reciprocated bitter thoughts and language more befitting a pagan drunkard than a child of God.

I had recently called my pastor fairly demanding to know how such vile thoughts and words could spew forth from the mind and mouth of one in whom Jesus abides.

How could one possibly revel in the joy of prayer and meditation only to turn around and act like Jesus had never been there in the first place?

My pastor lovingly steered me back to Romans 7:14 and 15, in which Paul speaks of the need to subdue our carnal natures against which man's spiritual struggle will continue until Jesus returns.

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."

The epiphany: I can now hate the thought, word, and deed. I no longer hate me. Just as I detach with love from the drug addict, learning to hate the disease and resulting behaviors, rather than the person, I have at last detached with love from my carnal nature. I can love me today, that is, who I am in Christ according to II Corinthians 5:17: I am a new creature in [Him], old things are passed away and all things are become new.

I'm reminded of a little old ditty: I ain't what I wanna be. I ain't what I'm gonna be. But thank you, Lord, I ain't what I use to be. (Source unknown.)

Have I the willingness to love me today in spite of me?

Am I willing to separate the sin from the sinner?

Shall I do this with others as well?

Lord, today I choose to love me as you love me, and others as you love them.