I was exhausted from walking around from day to day feeling heavy, fearful, and anxious about what I was to encounter throughout the day.
I recently went through a period of time of feeling really discouraged about myself. There were a lot of moments of low self-esteem and feeling inadequate, and this is not anything new. I’ve been struggling with low self-image and low self-esteem for years, it’s actually sort of embarrassing to admit that this is something I am struggling with even into my mid-20s. Nevertheless, it felt as though this time it was more intense than it’s ever been. I was exhausted from walking around from day to day feeling heavy, fearful, and anxious about what I was to encounter throughout the day.
Finally, after going days riding on the struggle bus, not being able to find my stop in this depression, it finally dawned on me “Hm I should probably go to God about this”. So I went to a resource that I use often called Desiring God and searched for sermons and resources talking about fear and anxiety.
What I was expecting to find were things spilling out the typical Christian affirmations (The head and not the tail, I know the plans I have for you, you’re fearfully and wonderfully made). And what I found to my surprise was somewhat of a rebuke. I came across an article that laid out fear and anxiety actually being by products of pride . This was monumental for me. Ironically, up to this point I considered myself to be fairly humble. Apparently not so.
What I learned was that these low feelings or low image of self don’t really come from thinking low of oneself. In my case, they really came from thinking highly of myself. Feeling low was actually disappointment with not receiving the praise from others that I really desired. Now there are genuine experiences of low self-image not stemming from pride. The messages we receive from others definitely shape how we view ourselves. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re worthless, ugly, or stupid and have taken this on to be true in your life, without the ability to escape. Whether it’s genuine low self-image or it’s pride in disguise, in the end we need the gospel to free us from the lies that we are broken and unlovable, or that we are worthy of praise.
What I was expecting to find were things spilling out the typical Christian affirmations (The head and not the tail, I know the plans I have for you, you’re fearfully and wonderfully made). And what I found to my surprise was somewhat of a rebuke.
In my case it was covert pride. Paul tells us that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3). Because, ultimately, it’s an offense against God. Pride is idolatry. Pride says “I get the glory” not “God gets the glory”. If we are desiring affirmation from others and it’s not connected to God’s glory then that reveals the idol of pleasing others and needing praise from others.
Jesus said the first greatest commandment is love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30-31). Nobody does that completely on any given day, so we must be thankful to God for Jesus and His grace. However, if we are focused primarily on ourselves, there is no room for us to grow in loving God with a whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. If any portion of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is dedicated to loving ourselves FIRST then there is no way for us to properly love anyone! Not God, not others, and not ourselves.
In response to both genuine low self-worth and pride we need the truth to combat the lies. Both are rejected when we fix the thoughts we have about ourselves upon what God says about ourselves:
- The truth that we are created in God’s image (Gen 1:27).
- The truth that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).
- The truth that God is eternally committed to being faithful and loving and sustaining until the end (Philippians 1:6).
After accepting the truth that we can’t do ANYTHING apart from Him (like not even breathe, John 15:5), we can begin the process of loving ourselves in a proper way. In the way God sees us. That IN CHRIST we are more than anything we think is praiseworthy from other people and IN CHRIST we are unworthy of the praise because the change in us is of all credit to him.
If any portion of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is dedicated to loving ourselves FIRST then there is no way for us to properly love anyone! Not God, not others, and not ourselves.
Think of this example:
You buy a broken car; you take it to the one stop auto body shop and this amazing mechanic fixes the car from the inside out. The car is now beautiful, even doing things it wasn’t initially manufactured to do. It stops traffic by it’s eye catching beauty and new tricks. However, when people compliment your new car they immediately ask who fixed your car. They need to know the mechanic who changed the car from a wreck to this gorgeous creation you are driving today. You immediately give out the cards the mechanic gave you giving him all the praise for the work he’s done. You don’t take the credit for his work, however, you humbly accept the praise that is given, when it is given, and immediately re-direct the gawkers to the person who did the amazing work.
Usually these stories end in victory, but not this time.
Usually these stories end in victory, but not this time. This is from a sister who is currently in this war within herself, fighting the battle with the enemy and still trying learn to trust God fully. I’ve learned over the years that I am prone to wander from God. So I have to keep theses truths in my face, every day, no exaggeration. I have to look at the beauty of Jesus Christ and keep thoughts of him, because the moment I turn away, my thoughts return to those things that weigh me down instead of giving me life.