Myth #1: You Are Enough
I Wanted to Be Enough
The first step to getting out of whatever unhealthy cycle you’re currently in is realizing just how not enough you are. That means letting go of the responsibility to be your own source of fulfillment—a responsibility that was never yours in the first place.
There’s Good News
When we miss this truth, we stay stuck in a vicious cycle of trying to measure up to impossible standards while simultaneously convincing ourselves that we’re good enough the way we are. The consequences are always dire.
The End of Ourselves
Whatever your circumstance or struggle, know that you can’t make that ache of emptiness go away on your own. No amount of self-care or self-love will get you out of your misery. Even at your most rejuvenated and most lovable, you will still find yourself waking up in the early hours of the morning haunted by the question of what’s missing.
Myth #2: You Determine Your Truth
Like me, you’ve been suckered by things that didn’t deliver on their promises of fulfillment at some point in your life. Whether it was the Backstreet Boys or S Club 7, side bangs or highlights, drinking or drugs—you’ve bought into things in your life that ultimately failed to live up to their hype. They were based on a false perception of reality, so they ended up disappointing you or hurting you in the long run.
As we get older, we don’t automatically grow out of the tendency to believe things that aren’t true; the lies we believe just become more complex and consequential. Our culture encourages us to defer to what’s true for us, even if it contradicts what is true—scientifically, biblically, historically, and so on. This manifests itself in gender ideology, abortion, polyamory, just as examples. But exchanging “my truth” for the truth also affects the personal decisions we make and the relationships we build. The results are never good.
Your Truth Won’t Set You Free
Here’s what we need to recognize: “our truth” is usually Satan’s lie. What feels true to us in the moment may not be true, good, or trustworthy at all. While it’s true that we have experiences and trauma that shape us, these things don’t equate to moral truths. They just happened. And maybe they were significant, and maybe they taught us something. But in order to know whether these lessons we learned are truths worth building our lives on, we have to compare them to the standard of truth, God’s Word.
A Trajectory Toward Truth
Throughout our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit, wisdom of God’s Word, and the equipping of the church, we are to work “to reach the stature of the fullness of Christ,” becoming more like him in every season (Ephesians 4:13). This doesn’t mean our path will be a straight line from A to B, but it does mean our lives should mean our path is paved by truth—God’s truth, not ours.
Our adherence to God’s truth doesn’t just influence how we read the Bible or what churches we choose; it also affects how we decide right and wrong in general.
There is freedom in realizing that neither we nor anyone else has authority to determine truth and morality. “My truth” and society’s “truth” are ever changing, arbitrary, and exhausting to keep up with. Sometimes outrage is justified, but that justification is not defined by people in power; it is defined by God.
Resisting the world’s fluctuating morality isn’t easy, especially when the “cause” sounds good—even biblical.
Myth #3: You’re Perfect the Way You Are
The Paradox of Perfectionism
You’re perfect the way you are” leads us into accepting parts of ourselves that we should be rejecting, making excuses for ourselves when we should be repenting, and believing things about ourselves that hold no lasting value.
The toxic culture of self-love is filled with empty platitudes that are handed out not because they’re true but because they’re profitable and clickable. It makes us feel good to imagine that we’re perfect and enough. But, as we’ve established, we’re neither one. And that’s okay because God made us needy for his strength and salvation. This is a much better comfort than the delusion that we’re flawless.
Your Feelings Are Valid . . . or Are They?
The untrustworthy nature of our feelings points to our insufficiency. We’re not enough to know which feelings are valid and which ones are going to lead us in the wrong direction.
When we look inside ourselves, we don’t find a heart worth following or a perfect goddess worth worshipping. We find an inadequate girl who needs guidance from her Creator. He tells us who we are and in so doing keeps us grounded and steady. Influencers telling us we’re beautiful and great will never give us that.
And yet as women we long to be told—even by strangers on the internet—that we’re acceptable and attractive. So when we hear the messages of the “body positive” movement telling us to love ourselves as we are, we listen.
Myth #4: You’re Entitled to Your Dreams
When Dreams Come True
In Matthew 6, Jesus urges us not to worry, to resist anxiety, to reject fear in exchange for trust in his provision. If God clothes the lilies of the field in splendor, how much more will he take care of us, people made in his image and children ransomed by the death of his Son? If he was unwilling to spare even his own Son for the sake of our salvation, isn’t he trustworthy to meet the rest of our needs as well?
This is the God our work is meant to glorify. Remembering that he is in control and trustworthy frees us from our culture’s distorted view of work as either insignificant or identity defining. On both ends of this spectrum there is an underlying lie: that you are entitled to the life of your dreams, no matter how little or how much work that involves.
God, our authority, says work exists for his glory and our good. He also assures us that though our work won’t always be fruitful, he will always be faithful. He doesn’t promise that all of our dreams will come true or that our goals will be reached, but instead he commands us to obey him and to work with excellence in whatever realm we occupy. This may include our dream job, and it may not. Either way, we can have peace knowing we’re able to fulfill our aim of glorifying him no matter what role we fill.
Myth #5: You Can’t Love Others Until You Love Yourself
Philippians 2:3‒4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
That is the kind of love Jesus is calling us to when he tells us to love our neighbors. As we look after our own needs, look after theirs. As we seek our own interests, seek their interests. As we fight for self-preservation and self-justification, be quick to make provision for them, and give them the same benefit of the doubt you give yourself.
The love we show our neighbor may not manifest as affectionate feelings, because there are times we may not feel affection for them. Love of neighbor is about applying the same instincts we have to take care of and be kind to ourselves to other people as well.
This will mean, as the Philippians 2 verse says, counting others as even more important than we count ourselves, and sacrificing our needs for the good of others.
You Don’t Have to Wait
Romans 12:2 calls our bodies a “living sacrifice.” This means that our whole lives are meant to be dedicated to God in worship, not just certain compartments. Being a mom or student or employee who does our work with joy and excellence for the glory of God and the good of others is also an act of Spirit-filled generosity.
We are to take every opportunity to be generous with our time and energy and money on behalf of the people God places on our path—those in loneliness, destitution, and lostness—and we’re to do so with the express purpose of showing them Jesus Christ and leading them to the well that never runs dry.
Prioritizing self-love over love for those around you doesn’t just affect your generosity toward the people who need your help; it also affects your most important relationships.