By Teri Worten
The issue of self esteem has been debated in psycological circles, religious circes and in sister circles. The longer I live, the more I learn about people. I've grown to be conscious of the people I let in my life, because everyone we know brings "something" into our lives. Those who bring the wrong "something" into our lives, effect us both as women and as mothers.
For example, if I befriend someone who is insecure and is overly critical of others, it affects how I feel and when I feel poorly, it affects my son. So I avoid very close friendships with such people. I've learned that if I don't, they'll drive me insane!
As you should well know, God made each of us unique and exquisitely beautiful. Every one of us brings wonderful talents and unique gifts to create a creatively crafted mosaic of beauty. However, the mosaic is often at variance because of those who are carrying deep-rooted insecurities and hidden emotional hurts. These personalities find it difficult to compliment, uplift or simply be around anyone else who may outshine, upstage or out talk them. They believe the sparkle of another will somehow diminish their own shine. Although we are talking about women now, this scenario is not limited to women. Think of Saul and David! Read I Samuel 18-19.
As a result of this type of thinking, these women tend to lead lives that are painstakingly shallow and lonely because they will prevent themselves from experiencing the wonderful benefits of a supportive network of friends and love ones. It's possible for them to build a circle of friends when they judge, question and mistreat others - often in the name of "fun". More often than not, these women surround themselves with other women who carry their own host of insecurities. These women are usually so deliriously intimidated by these their bossy/shallow friends that they spend most of their time in the relationship agreeing, reassuring, and admiring her.
Most experts say that low self-esteem often stems from our childhood days. According to them, somewhere along the way, we learned or heard negative messages from others and we mistakenly internalized them. I also believe that temporary circumstances can also play a major role in the development of a low self-image. For instance a bad relationship, an unfaithful spouse, etc. Others say that our self-esteem is tied to our success or lack thereof. Whatever the source, we must deal with it if we want to grow into mature women of God.
In my opinion, low self-image has two predominate faces. We've talked a little about what I call the "seemingly" confident woman with low self-image. I refer to her confidence as "seemingly" because she parades an excellently constructed fašade of self-assurance. Although, she is beautiful or attractive physically, her inner beliefs sabotage her success. As she tries new things, she may achieve a moderate level of success. But then she quickly abandons her project because she doesn't believe she deserves or can handle the success God has given her.
As a friend, she is critical about everyone around her, often making crude, insensitive jokes that are hurtful and considered coarse jesting. Read Eph. 5:4.
All along, she thinks her cunning 'put downs' her look wittier, funnier or smarter. Also, because she is attractive, she has placed a vast majority of her self worth on her beauty and sex appeal. The attention of men is her constant target. This poor soul has developed little else in her life, so she lacks assurance in any of her other qualities or accomplishments. She just continues to parade her femininity as one would a fashion accessory.
Then there's the more traditional face of low self-image. There's the woman who does not necessarily fit into society's standard of "beauty". Although she may "say" she accepts herself, she often hides herself in a shell deep inside of her. She reveals enough of herself to be close friends, but never intimate friends. She's scared to reveal her fears of never finding love, or not becoming successful. You may find her at home participating in a one-woman pity party or she may be a social butterfly our feeding the egos of the "seemingly" confident women. Although she may not be found insulting or criticizing others, if you listen closely, she will reveal her low self-image in the words she chooses or the opinions (about herself) she embraces.
Other reflections of low self image are women:
Convincing themselves they are always right in their opinions.
Convincing themselves that their actions are always right.
Convincing themselves that those who disagree with them are bad.
Convincing themselves they are entitled to everything they want.
Putting on an act of superiority to hide their low self esteem.
I'm no doctor, so I don't attempt to analyze lofty psychological facts and principals. All I know is I am a woman and my advocacy work affords me a lot of time around women, so I see many self destructive patterns and cycles that ensnare women. Some of them I've been through and conquered with God's grace. Others, I just don't understand.
On Joyce Meyer's website, she reveals a word that God gave her about us.
Here's an excerpt.
"I want to love My people, but they hold Me at arm's length and won't let Me really love them because they have been hurt by others. They fear I will reject them because of their weaknesses like people have. But I will never reject them. TELL THEM I LOVE THEM . Ask them to stop trying so hard to be acceptable to Me and to realize I accept them where they are. Tell them I don't want PERFECT PERFORMANCE from them. I want them to love Me and to let Me love them." Find more at www.joycemeyer.org.
This about sums it up. We have to stop being so fearful. We must realize that God has called us to love one another unselfishly, without constraints, conditions and limitations. If we can consciously focus on loving others, we will take our eyes off ourselves and begin to see the beauty that God has placed in our sisters and brothers in Christ. We won't worry so much about impressing them, because we will just want to love them. Whew! That will indeed take the pressure off!
You're not the only one!
Recognize that you are not the only one that God gave gifts to.
He has blessed other women with certain qualities so that they can be a blessing in their sphere of influence. Don't allow yourself to feel threatened or undermined by their talent or perceived beauty. You know, I've learned that the shallowest people I know are the most beautiful women I know. They complain that they can never find friends because of their attractiveness, when in truth, they can't keep friends because they exude negative energy and venom that makes befriending them difficult for anyone but another women with a relatively low self opinion.
Be willing to share the glory. Read Romans 12:30
Wherever you are in your life, you are either acquainted with or have been one of the above mentioned women at one time or another. If you know someone who is suffering from a low self esteem. Pray for her. You may have to do so from a distance because often the wounded will unintentionally wound you if you are in their path.
Remember sisters, God loves each of us so much. He wants more
than anything else for us to love one another. We can't do that if we are
consuming one another. Fix your "stuff". Unpack your baggage so that
you can see yourself as you really are. Only then will you be able to present
your insecurities, hurts and impairments to God. He only can heal you and free
you to experience a full, vibrant life!
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