Two of the most dangerous words in the English language are "I hate". Some hatred is good -- hating evil, hating oppression, hating war. However, hatred that's directed toward others is destructive (and it's considered by Jesus to be equivalent to an act of murder). Hatred's toxicity corrodes our heart and soul, causing us to ignore the sanctity of human life toward those we hate. When we hate another person, we are sinning against the nature of God.
The same is true when we direct that hatred toward ourselves.
I worked in youth ministry for many years, and I miss it. Youth are so teachable and transparent. I've walked with many young people through their years of self-doubt and self-hatred, and I often shared this verse with them to give them a different perspective: "But who are you, created person, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the One who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" [Romans 9:20].
We are designed by God. We are not self-made; we are God-made. When we think we are self-made (or made by others), it is easy to hate what we are. But God has formed our life from the dust of the earth and filled us with his breath. Your life has value; and if it has value, it has purpose.
Self-help isn't going to help us think better about ourselves. When we live disconnected from the Source of life, no amount of self-help will help. Jesus teaches us the key to life is selflessness, not selfishness; Christ-centered, not self-centered. It's hard to be hungry for God when we are full of ourselves.
Let's switch gears.
If you have a Bible, read Matthew 22:34-39. There you'll find a summary of all the commandments rolled into two magnificent ones. Jesus calls us to love God who is the source of our heart, soul and mind. And he tells us to love others who are created by this God. But here's the part that really intrigues me: we're supposed to love others as we love ourselves.
Here's what I think about that: If the adversary can convince you that your life is worthless, then he can cut off God's purposes for your life at the knees. We cannot love others if we do not love ourselves. If I hate myself, there are two possibilities for me: 1) I will do damage to others (perpetuating the Curse), or 2) I will retreat from the very people I am called to love. I think self-hatred compounds the Curse and cuts us off from the life-giving mission of Jesus.
Embracing God's perspective on our lives can free us from this self-imposed curse brought on by self-hatred. When I read Psalm 51, here's what I see we should do:
1] Let go of the impossible notion we can make it without God. If we cannot let go of this idea we are self-made, we will remain captivated by each compounding failure to measure up to whatever ideal we've convinced ourselves we need to be. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love."
2] We need to accept the unacceptable. Look at David's confession: "I know my transgressions; my sin is always in my face..." Reconciliation begins with thought: I and flawed and am in need of God's grace. Do you know how liberating it is to be able to say that? "Dear God, I have a problem. It's me!" This confession frees us from the impossible task of trying to convince everyone -- and ourselves -- that we have our "stuff" together. We do not have to pretend or work endlessly to save face. We need to accept the unacceptable -- and give it to God.
3] We need to accept God's Truth. Jesus gives us a correct view of ourselves: we are flawed and sinful, but we are loved and redeemed. We are valuable and loved, even the parts of us we think are ugly, stupid, and disgusting. Healing comes when we accept God's Truth about himself: he alone can restore us. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew my spirit!"
This is something really satisfying to chew on.