Yesterday during our worship celebrations, Pastor Derrick reflected on how self-esteem really impacts our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. In short, things like negative comments, put-downs, abuse, bullying, belittling, etc. can not only shatter our self-image in the moment… but they also get filed away in our hearts and minds and when we replay them again and again, they can hold us down our entire lives. Thankfully, Derrick’s message continued, in the BIG picture, our worth is not determined by the assessment we are handed by others. It is not even determined by self-assessment, but instead, is determined by the God of all creation who made us to reflect God’s very own self. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus shows and proves God’s unfailing love. When we leave all this low self-esteem ‘baggage’ in God’s hands, and choose to walk in the freedom and newness of life AND image, gifted to us in Jesus, we are on our way to fullness of life and the highest value of self and image!
In my experience, this is not always easy though… I’ve got some pretty heavy baggage (how about you?). As I struggle and strain to live past that negative stuff, I have often had to give myself (and my life) permission to be ‘ugly’. And, you know what… it helps! Follow me for a moment:
Paul writes in Philippians 3:
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Think about it… when was the last time you strained after something (in sports, personal goals, raising a family, advancing a career)? Was it pretty? Probably not. Try looking at your face in the mirror while your straining through an exercise routine… pretty? Probably not. How about spring-cleaning (yuck… its coming soon!). What is the very first stage of cleaning out the garage, attic, basement, shed, etc? Complete and utter chaos! As things are pulled apart, moved, gone-through, thrown out, repaired, the whole house and yard and driveway can look like a tornado went through.
Yet, it is only through ‘pressing on’ despite the negativity, and through the ‘ugly’ stages of striving and straining, that we begin to see the dawn of something new, better, healthier, and more beautiful. If we give ourselves permission to NOT ‘have it all-together’, even as we strive to GET ‘it all-together’, we may be able to neutralize that replaying mental file of failures and criticisms that hold us down and cause us to throw up our hands and quit.
If we can get OK with the fact that our lives and selves ‘ain’t always pretty’, we may be able to focus more on living into the life God has planned for us.