Battlefield of the Mind

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

(July 30, 2010)

Something I can’t help but notice about my generation is the number of young guys and gals who only have something negative to say about themselves (myself included, sometimes). There seems to be this epidemic of bitterness and negativity towards ourselves, and it has been stewing and building for about 30 years now. And this epidemic has a name: Self-Hatred.

There may be no definitive placemark for where this all began. Some may say around the time of MTV in 1981, or the republicans ruling the government during the 80s, or an event that is just as likely to be responsible – like The Love Boat being cancelled. Who knows.

Personally, I think the blame falls on the people. Ideas and institutions can very certainly carry life of their own and sway the masses, but ultimately it’s up to the people to decide what they believe. And somewhere over time, people began to believe one thing: You are not good enough.

This one sole idea has precipitated across millions of young people and drilled its way into the fabric of their hearts and become a part of their DNA. And just like a genetic disease, it can mutate and shapeshift like a Star Trek baddie to take many forms. Some people are even unaware that they are infected. That’s the worst part of the disease.

You don’t have to exhibit any outward symptoms to be infected. The first and most deadly place that is struck is in the mind. Those thoughts about how ugly you look when you look in the mirror, or how nothing you do is good enough, or how no one could love you – take your pick. Maybe they’re even simpler than that, that you just aren’t good looking, or that you’re alone. Like sin and bullets, the size doesn’t matter. You start having those thoughts, then before you know it you start believing those thoughts.

When you see and hear young people putting themselves down about looks, abilities, worth, ect., and denying themselves credit for accomplishments, you’re seeing the result of a long wrought battle. A battle that they have lost.

The other fatal display of this disease taking its toll is the commonly unfeared, but equally as deadly symptom: pessimism. Believing that it can’t and will not work out. That you won’t get that job. So why bother?

I don’t like to get this deep and dark with my posts – most of you can tell by now that I’m generally a goofball – but this is something that I think needs to be addressed, and nobody really wants to do it. Especially not anyone in the church community.

The worst symptom of the disease is that you become unable to actually do anything; a sort of mental paralysis. Once you believe you’re not good enough, you start acting like it. Your pessimism and lack of belief makes you unwilling to shoot for goals anymore, or jump at opportunities. Spontaneous inspiration accounts for a huge amount of people’s big attainments in life. Like applying for that job/position/part at that company/internship/play/studio/contest. Or tell that person you love them. Or even prepare for the future. I could go on, but you get my point.

This is something that is crippling my generation and significantly preventing the forward progress of what God wants to do with us. I mentioned in an earlier entry that God wants to just love us and do stuff with us, and this is part of the reason that we deny Him that desire. We don’t believe in ourselves, and it causes us to not believe in what He can do. For Christians, if we succumb to the disease, we deny Him in us and what He can do. There’s another group of people who wear the same badge of disbelief. They’re called non-believers.

And there is the one-two punch delivery of the main idea of this tirade. If you are giving into self-hatred and unGodly pessimism, what makes you any different than someone who doesn’t believe in God at all?

Some people will say I am being over the top and only looking at extreme cases. But I’m not sure that I am. Like I mentioned earlier, this can be in the little things. The things you may not see as self-hatred. But if it is denying yourself mentally or physically, or denying what God can do, it’s all the same beast.

Now, I don’t have a magical fix, per se, for this epidemic. I mean, if there was an easy way to overcome 30+ years of self-hatred and God-denying within the church and in the mainstream American society, don’t you think someone would have found it and revolutionized how our young people think about themselves and what God can do?

There was a book put out a while back that tried to detail how humanity has ventured through the course of their mentalities, examine their weaknesses as well as strengths, and expound on how God wants to work in our lives and through our mental battlegrounds.

The book was a bestseller, but unfortunately it had some trouble sticking. People are stubborn to adapting to new ways of thinking when they are perfectly comfortable in their own world. The ideas in the book were nonetheless brilliant and revolutionary, so some different factions of people adapted the studies and concepts in it, but in a way that they felt good about.

I forgot to mention the name of the book. It was the Bible.

We’ve seen a frightening stray from Biblical fundamentalism over the past century, and especially over the past 30 years. The common lapse of time with self-hatred is not a coincidence.

When people detail their victories over self-hatred, what do they credit? An awesome Jesus-breakthrough.

I am a fan of cutting out the middleman in life. I shop at Aldi, I use Priceline (not just because William Shatner is riveting), and I buy wholesale guitar parts. Using the same mentality, why don’t we shift BACK to Biblical fundamentalism, that place where the awesome Jesus-breakthroughs happen, and save ourselves from this trend?

Self-hatred and God-denial is most certainly plaguing my generation, and it shows no signs of stopping. Because like choosing to believe in it, choosing to stop it falls to the people. We are responsible to determine what we believe. Maybe, just maybe, if we tried believing in how Jesus can be awesome and awesome in us, we’d start finding that we are worth more than what MTV tells us we are. Maybe we’d find that being a super model isn’t the requirement to be beautiful. That dating and sleeping around isn’t where you’ll find love. That you can take a chance and believe in something bigger without fear of being let down.

I don’t think we need to be a generation of yes-men and yes-women who jump at anything. I just think that we need to believe in ourselves. We need to take our God-given skills and abilities and be confident in them so that we can bring glory to the One who gave us our strengths. We need to believe in a reality that isn’t reality tv. We need to believe in a Jesus that can do anything.

If we stopped for a minute and thought about how God crafted us and shaped us to live with a purpose and to love with passion, I think it’d be hard to hate what we see in the mirror.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that, my soul knows well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

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