Question:

I am really messed up. I was subjected to severe sexual, emotional and physical abuse as a child. I do not love myself, do not really like myself. As I age, I keep more and more to myself, only doing shopping as needed, and go to church. I was baptized about 36 years ago and have tried my best to cling to God's hand and hide behind Him when Satan tries to target me.

I choose to have just one close friend at a time, and take a long time seeing if they really like me, and if I can trust them. I just lost my dearest friend of nearly 15 years to cancer and do not even care to get that close to another, figuring at my age it would be a waste of years going through all I have to in order to trust someone like that again.

I live with my cats, rarely stepping out of the apartment except for what has to be done. I do not want anyone looking me.

There is ever so much more to this, but I am trying to give the briefest of a showing as to who I am. 

My fear is that since we are to love others as ourselves, and I cannot find love for others often, will this condemn me to hell? I love God, so very grateful for Jesus, rely and believe God's promises, but I just can't do the love part. I am concerned, but probably not to the extent I am supposed to be concerned about others souls and salvations.

I have to keep forcing myself to even think that God does love me, and He does have a place for me if I but follow His commandments to the best of my abilty. Do you think His Grace and Mercy can still find room for me in heaven?

I know no-one can have the answers that are in God's mind, but please, do you think that He can understand and overlook these failings?

I keep telling myself He is -- in addition to loving and caring, just and fair. He knows my heart. But I need someone else's input on this matter, please. Just someone else's thinking's, maybe you have the answer of how to love, an answer I have not been able to come up with in the years since I first heard the Word and believed.


Answer:

The only thing I can discuss is what the Lord requires of each of us. I can understand that your past makes loving other people more difficult for you, but no one needs to let their past define who they are in the present. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

It appears you use your past as an excuse to stop trying to express love, but love is not a option. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). Now, it is true that many people confuse the feeling of love for the action of love. If love were a feeling, it would be hard to fulfill the command to love our enemies. When people mistreat me, I may not feel loving toward them, but I certainly can act loving toward them. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). Or as James points out: "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (I John 4:20-21). Yet, love must be more than just words. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:16-18).

You started out stating that you don't like yourself. I suspect that is because you blame yourself for the abuse others did to you as a child. But children don't have control over what others do. That is why we work to protect the innocence of children and why those who violate this face the wrath of God. "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). God will take care of the problems of the past. But don't continue to let bitterness eat away at your soul. "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" (Hebrews 12:14-15).

When you talk about whether God will accept you as you are, it is a search for the minimum that we might do. But we don't offer Christ our minimal effort. Regardless of how you feel, you are Christian serving the greatest Master in the Universe. It isn't about you, it isn't about me, it is about doing what the Lord directs. "Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Luke 17:9-10). You aren't earning your way to heaven. You are doing the Lord's commands because they are what is right.

Brother Hamilton,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. None of what you say is new to me, having been a member of the church since my baptism many years ago, but you have given me a fresh outlook, and a new determination to try and get on the right path. Please keep me in your prayers.