One of my favorite defense mechanisms (to study) is projection.
Projection is “attributing one’s own unacknowledged feelings [or thoughts or behaviors] to others.” (1)
It’s sort of like saying “You eat too much…” to a friend (who may or may not actually be eating too much) simultaneously as you eat too much (without noticing that you are eating too much).
It protects us from the discomfort of acknowledging something negative we think, feel or do ourselves (and from the work of correcting it). We use projection unwittingly. With it, we draw attention to something negative we see (or fabricate!) in someone else — something we subconsciously recognize (and dislike) in ourselves. We do it because as long as we are pointing at it in someone else, we a) don’t have to address it in ourselves and b) can trust that no one else will notice it in us (or so we think).
It’s kind of like the time I stopped responding to an ex-boyfriend’s attempts to reach me, and in his 35th email to me in the first days after I cut off contact, he said, “You need to move on!”
Do you ever notice that we do this with God?
Like when we sin and then act like God thinks we’re bad and worthless.
The truth is that when we act like God thinks we’re bad and worthless, we are projecting how we feel about ourselves onto God. It isn’t how God feels about us after we do something we know we shouldn’t — it’s how we feel about us.
God doesn’t love us because we are good. We are good because He loves us. And even when we aren’t worthy, we are valuable.
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1. From here.