I went to the doctor’s recently, and emerged from the surgery with a booklet on self -esteem from their free literature.
‘What have you got that for?’ enquired my hubby.
‘Well, it used to be a big problem for me’, I replied.
‘Used to be...’ It was good being able to say those words…though there are times when I have to admit I still struggle with feelings of uselessness.
There is a children’s book by Max Lucado entitled ‘You are Special’ – about some small wooden people called Wemmicks, who constantly stick either gold stars or grey dots on each other. Being a bright kid, I went through my childhood and adolescence for the most part having many gold stars stuck on me and also on to primary school star charts!
As an adult, however, these swiftly began to drop off and were replaced by many more grey dots, as I struggled with an affliction that rendered my academic prowess pretty worthless in the real world.
I am one of five siblings – all of whom have had good jobs, and all of whom managed to master the art of driving early on… except me!
Although I have not had a proper career, I have been fortunate enough to have been a wife and mother… and yet it is difficult to think well of yourself in these roles when - amongst many other things - you’re really not great in the kitchen!
We all have negative self–talk. I wonder what yours is? Mine was: ‘I just need putting on the scrap heap’, or ‘I just need putting in the bin’.
However, 21 years ago I had a series of encounters with the love of God through the Holy Spirit, which lifted my self-esteem dramatically at the time. It was like being surrounded by a thick fog, except instead of being able to see the fog you could feel it, and it felt like the most Incredible. Unimaginable. Love. Ever!
Interestingly, one of these encounters occurred when I was very upset following a driving lesson where my instructor had told me I was never ever going to learn to drive! That same evening God also drew me to these verses in the Bible, which demonstrate that He loves to specialise in people who don’t appear to have a lot going for them:
‘Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him.’ 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Since that time life has thrown an incredible amount at me, and about a decade ago I once again found my self esteem in the gutter, as I was confronted with my own failings. More gradually this time, God has gently lifted me up once more – His words of affirmation to me coming through prophetic words and worship songs. A line from a song by Simon Brading recently hit me between the eyeballs: ‘What if Your love is bigger than my mess?’ We can make rather a mess of our lives at times - but even then we are never beyond the amazing love of God!
I recently heard an atheist say that the God of the Bible makes you feel bad about yourself. But in my experience He is actually one of the few people who makes me feel good about myself. And I can honestly say that - as much as I enjoy browsing self-help books and receiving ‘stars’ from other people - it is in Him that my true self-esteem continues to be found.