I’ve heard it my whole life and chances are you that you have as well. “Jesus loves you.” I can’t deny it and have felt His love so deeply that it has brought me to tears. Yet, more often than not, if I am honest, I have not allowed that truth define who I am.
There is a biblical view of self-esteem and a worldly view. The worldly view says that our behavior follows our self-esteem. If we have a poor definition of ourselves, one derived from ridiculous expectations, then we will act out. Meanwhile, the world from its Pharisaical megaphone yells that we just need to learn to love ourselves first.
Yet, the paradoxical truth is found in a relational spirituality. A world view that defines self-love in this way: loving ourselves correctly means seeing ourselves the way God sees us.
Through this view, we are not trying to meet a limitless amount of expectations: lose weight, change your hair color, play sports better, make more money, etc. Instead, we look the Creator in the eye and ask “who do you think I am?” And being a loving father, he responds with absolute and sometimes painful truth. “You are my child (John 1:12), a friend (John 15:15), justified & redeemed (Romans 3:24), no longer condemned (Romans 8:1), but set free from ludicrous laws (Romans 8:2), & welcomed(Romans 15:7).”
It Doesn’t Work
I get it. Those scriptures are nice & encouraging, but when you get down to real life outside the walls of the church in the face of your peers, listening to the noisy gong of a counter-god culture, those truths are very difficult to realize.
This past year was by far the worst one of my life and have lived (am living) through the worst trials of my faith that questioned my identity, made me feel incredibly small & worthless. Relentless rejection wiped away all confidence and I found myself in a downward spiral of comparisons.
I lack all matters of cultural talents. What I mean are those things that society has placed tremendous value on: playing sports, playing instruments, modeling, working out, acting, charismatic speaking, being “successful”. My interests don’t line up with the general public and so I often find myself not quiet knowing what to talk about around new people.
- Theology: My undergraduate is in biblical studies; I love practical applications of scripture, enjoy studying the Hebraic roots of my theology, and talking through the difficult faith questions.
- Technology: I can write a vlookup in Excel like nobody’s business, customize switches for characters in a mail merge, program a website and convert anything to an ePub.
- Geek: Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Marvel Comics, the Witcher, Legend of the Seeker, Eragon.
Yeah, not exactly water cooler topics. So what does it take to see ourselves as God sees us?
There is not a clear cut answer, but I have found that if you root yourself in Scriptural truth during the “good times” you will be better prepared to weather the storms. Dive into that relational spirituality and surround yourself with believers who will edify you. Sometimes God’s truths are realized through the body of Christ by design. You need to hear it from brothers & sisters in Christ, from friends & family. They are God’s gifts (as you are to others) and when all of that is absent, then you white-knuckle the scripture and pray ever waking moment. The enemy is out to crush you and he is very familiar with God’s plan. So he will intentionally use those you love the most to hurt you the deepest.