The following comes from the first chapter, Come Out of Hiding:
Manning cites Henri Nouwen (another great author) as saying,
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. (emphasis added)Manning goes on to say,
We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus. To the extent that we allow the relentless tenderness of Jesus to invade the citadel of self, we are freed from dyspepsia toward ourselves. Christ wants to alter our attitude toward ourselves and take sides with Him against our own self-evaluation.I have beaten myself up over so many things: my failure to "measure up." The crazy thing is that I say I believe in a God who loves me infinitely, yet my attitude of myself has often been quite the opposite. God can forgive people's sins, but I can't forgive my own. I downplay the tremendous Grace that Christ has to offer me by doing this. I also dismiss the many talents and the good that my Creator has placed in me. I think this blocks God's ability to use me in caring for others. The funny thing as I write this is that I feel I am beating myself up, for "beating myself up". God save me from this terrible cycle of self-condemnation!
I think it is in times like these that I need to stop thinking so much and self-evaluating and just invite God in to my moments of self-reflection. Just let His peace settle into my being and still all voices but His.
Manning goes on to iterate the fact that God uses us in our weakness and to deny or shun that weakness is to deny the very thing that may help someone else. We relate to each other not through our power or strength, but through our humbleness and weakness. Jesus Himself says, blessed are those who are poor in spirit, and I think this is why: we are more capable of receiving God (and each other) in this humble state. This is why we can relate to Christ, because He Himself was humbled by becoming human.
Stop beating yourself up and start seeing that you are Beloved. Stop over-analyzing and just bask in the presence of a loving Abba (Father). I am saying this to myself of course...but maybe you can relate?