Read an Excerpt
How to Succeed at Being Yourself
By Joyce Meyer
Warner FaithCopyright © 1999 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.
For as he thinks in his heart,
Do you like yourself? Most people don't like themselves, you know. I have many years of experience with people, trying to help them be whole emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially I felt it was a major breakthrough when I simply discovered that most people really don't like themselves. Some of them know it, while others don't even have a clue that is the root of many other problems in their life.
Self-rejection and even self-hatred are the root causes of many relationship problems. God wants us to have great relationships. I have found the Bible to be a book about relationships. I find teaching in it about my relationship with God, with other people and with myself.
SEEK PEACE IN RELATIONSHIPS
...[Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!] 1 Peter 3:11
God's Word instructs us to have good relationships, but it also teaches us how to develop and maintain those relationships.
I found this particular Scripture in The Amplified Bible to be very enlightening. As I studied it, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that first I must have peace with God. I must believe that He loves me. He does not wait until I am perfected to love me; He loves me unconditionally and completely at all times. Second, I must receive His love.
Receiving is a big issue. When we receive from God, we actually take into ourselves what He is offering. As we receive His love, we then have love in us. Once we are filled with Gods love, we can begin loving ourselves. We can also begin giving that love back to God and bestowing it on other people.
Always remember: we cannot give away what we don't have!
THE LOVE OF GOD
... God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
The Bible teaches us that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. That simply means that when the Lord, in the form of the Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in our heart because of our faith in His Son Jesus Christ, He brings love with Him, because God is love. (1 John 4:8.)
We all need to ask ourselves what we are doing with the love of God that has been freely given us. Are we rejecting it because we don't think we are valuable enough to be loved? Do we believe God is like other people who have rejected and hurt us? Or are we receiving His love by faith, believing that He is greater than our failures and weaknesses?
What kind of relationship do you have with God, with yourself and ultimately with your fellowman?
It never occurred to me that I even had a relationship with myself. It was just something I never thought of until God began teaching me in these areas. I now realize that I spend more time with myself than with anyone else, and it is vital that I get along well with me.
You are one person you never get away from.
We all know how agonizing it is to work day after day with someone we don't get along with, but at least we don't have to take that person home with us at night. But we are with us all the time, day and night. We never have one minute away from ourselves, not even one second - therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we have peace with ourselves.
WE CANNOT GIVE AWAY WHAT WE DON'T HAVE
"... Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8 NKJV
With the help of the Lord I learned to receive Gods love, to love myself (in a balanced way), to love God in return and to love other people. But it was neither quick nor easy because of my personal history.
It seemed to me that I had always had difficulties in relationships, and I really did not know why. I could not find people that I liked and enjoyed who also felt the same way about me. Through God's help I finally realized what the problem was: I was trying to give away something that I did not have.
As a young believer I heard sermons about the importance of Christians loving each other, and I was sincerely trying to walk in love, but I failed continually I needed to get Gods answer hooked up with my particular problem. I had heard with my ears that God loved me, but I had not really believed it for myself. I may have believed it in general, but not personally I had the problem, and I had the answer, but I was not making the right connection between the two.
Many times we know what our problem is, but we cannot seem to find the right answer to it. On the other hand, we often discover an answer in Gods Word, but we really don't know what our problem is. God wants to reveal to us the nature of our true problems and the answer to those problems that are found in His Word. When we make the right connection between them, when we hook up the right problem with the right revelation - the devil is on his way out, and freedom is on its way in.
For example, I saw in the Bible that we were to walk in love. I knew that I had a problem with love, but I did not know that my problem had roots.
We frequently try to deal with the bad fruit in our lives and never get to the root cause of it. If the root remains, the fruit will keep coming back. No matter how many times we cut it off, eventually it will come back. This cycle is very frustrating. We are trying the best we know how, and yet it seems we never find a permanent solution to our miseries.
I was desperately attempting to display loving behavior, but I had failed to receive God's love; therefore, I could not give love away I did not have any to give.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF
For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. Galatians 5:14
While I was seeking answers to my problems, the Holy Spirit opened up to me Galatians 5:14 in a way I had never seen or heard before. I was experiencing marriage problems. My husband and I were not getting along - it seemed we couldn't agree on anything, we had strife almost continually. It was affecting our children in an adverse way. All the anxiety and turmoil were affecting my health. I had to have some answers!
THE ANSWER IS LOVE
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.... 1 John 4:18 KJV
When the Holy Spirit revealed this Scripture to me, I asked myself, could it be possible? Was I hearing God right - could it be as simple as "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so"? I had a lot of fears in my life, and 1 John 4:18 was telling me that perfect love would cast out fear.
I had tried walking in "perfect love" and had failed daily. I thought "perfect love" referred to my loving others perfectly. I was now beginning to see that perfect love was Gods love for me - He is the only One Who can love perfectly
Gods love is perfect even when we are not!
LOVED TO LOVE OTHERS
May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]. Ephesians 3:17,18
As I meditated on these Scriptures and others like them, I felt like a blind person who was seeing for the first time. My problem was a lack of love. I had never received proper love in my life; therefore, I had never learned to properly love myself. I didn't even like myself, let alone love myself.
If nobody else loves us, we don't see why we should love ourselves. If others don't love us, we think we must not be worth loving.
We should love ourselves - not in a selfish, self-centered way that produces a lifestyle of self-indulgence, but in a balanced, godly way, a way that simply affirms God's creation as essentially good and right. We may be flawed by the years and the unfortunate experiences we have undergone, but that does not mean we are worthless and good for nothing but the trash can.
We must have the kind of love that says, "I can love what God can love. I don't love everything I do, but I accept myself, because God accepts me." We must develop the kind of mature love that says, "I know I need to change, and I want to change. In fact, I believe God is changing me daily, but in the meanwhile I will not reject what God accepts. I will accept myself as I am right now, knowing that I will not always remain this way."
Our faith gives us hope for the future. As He did with the Israelites, God will help us conquer our enemies (our "hangups") little by little. (Deuteronomy 7:22.) He will change us from glory to glory as we continue to look into His Word. (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV.) He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV.) He has begun a good work in us, and He will complete it and bring it to its final fulfillment. (Philippians 1:6.)
Once we receive God's love and begin to love and accept ourselves, it greatly improves our relationship with Him. Until we accept His love, the cycle is incomplete. We can love Him only because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19.)
We all know how frustrating it is to attempt to give a gift to someone who keeps refusing to take it. I love to surprise people and give them something they want or need. I have had the experience of planning a surprise, going shopping, spending my money, getting everything ready, and yet when I gave my gift, the person was so insecure they did not know how to simply receive my gift graciously.
Insecurity and feelings of unworthiness keep us from being able to receive very well. We may feel that we must earn or deserve everything we get. We may think, "Why would someone want to just give me something?" We may become suspicious: "What is their motive? What do they want from me? What are they after?"
There are times when I try to give something to someone and have to spend so much time and energy convincing them I really do want them to have it, that the situation becomes downright embarrassing. I just want them to take it! I want them to show their appreciation for my gift by graciously receiving it and enjoying it.
If we as humans feel that way, how much more does God feel that way when He tries to give us His love, grace and mercy, and we refuse it because of a false sense of humility or unworthiness? When God reaches out to love us, He is attempting to start a cycle that will bless not only us but also many others.
Gods plan is this: He wants us to receive His love, love ourselves in a balanced and godly way, generously love Him in return, and finally love all the people who come into our lives.
We have failed to follow that plan for years. We are not even loving others with our own love, much less with Gods love. Remember, we did not have any love with which to love anyone until God first loved us!
ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION?
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Genesis 1:31
Rejecting ourselves does not change us, it actually multiplies our problems. Acceptance causes us to face reality and then begin to deal with it. We cannot deal with anything as long as we are refusing to accept it or denying its reality.
Webster's II New College Dictionary defines accept in part as: "1. To receive (something offered), esp. willingly. 2. To admit to a group or place. 3.a. To consider as usual, proper, or right, b. To consider as true."
I notice from this definition that acceptance involves the will. If I apply this definition to self-acceptance, I see that I can choose or not choose to accept myself God is offering me the opportunity to accept myself as I am, but I have a free will and can refuse to do so if I so choose. I also see from this definition that when something is accepted, it is viewed as usual, proper or right.
People who reject themselves do so because they cannot see themselves as proper or right. They only see their flaws and weaknesses, not their beauty and strength. This is an unbalanced attitude, one that was probably instilled by authority figures in the past who majored on what was weak and wrong rather than on what was strong and right.
The word acceptance from the same dictionary is defined in part as "approval" and "agreement."2 If we are having problems accepting ourselves as we are, I suggest that we need to get into agreement with God that what He created is good - and that includes us.
In Amos 3:3 we read, Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed? To walk with God, we must agree with God He says He loves us and accepts us; therefore, if we agree with Him, we can no longer hate and reject ourselves.
We need to agree with God that when He created us, He created something good.
Once again let me emphasize that I realize everything we do is not good, but at this point we are discussing ourselves, not our behavior. Later in the book we will discuss in detail how God views what we do; right now in this beginning chapter we are more concerned with who we are in Gods sight.
You may be at the same place I was when God began revealing these principles to me. You see the things in yourself that need to be changed, and it is very difficult for you to think or say, "I accept myself." You feel that to do so would be to accept all that is wrong with you, but that is not the case.
I personally don't believe we can even begin the process of change until this issue is settled in our individual lives.
CHANGE REQUIRES CORRECTION
For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. Hebrews 12:6
This truth about God's correction and discipline of those He love is verified by Jesus Himself in Revelation 3:19 when He says: Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude].
Change requires correction - people who do not know they are loved have a very difficult time receiving correction. Correction does no good at all if it is not received.
In dealing with my children and hundreds of employees over the years, I have discovered that correction must be given in love.
Excerpted from How to Succeed at Being Yourself by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 1999 by Joyce Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.