If someone responds to one of my profiles on (many!) dating websites and tells me I’m handsome I simply reply, “Yes, I agree!”. Some comebacks accuse me of being arrogant. That’s not the case: I speak as I find, and I generally like how I am these days! I’ve done enough moral inventory (‘Step 4’ in 12-step recovery step-work) and know the Bible well enough to concede that my character can utterly stink (Jeremiah 17:9). And I’ve spent enough stints in rehab full of positivity workshops, and know the Bible well enough, to know I’m valuable (Jeremiah 3:13)!
This wasn’t always my experience: I grew up feeling worthless. Low self-esteem can stem from childhood trauma (Mellody 1989) and I found it hard to believe that God, or anyone at all as it goes, would want to take an interest in unless I was somehow useful (therein began careers in teaching and social care!). I was lovingly challenged enough that if God values me, what right have I to disagree with Him (Acts 10:15); and that self-pitying behaviour is actually self-indulgent idolatry because, rather than focusing on God and others, my focus is on ‘despicable me’!
When facilitating an assertiveness workshop (at a church setting as it happens) I felt challenged when I outlined actions that may demonstrate low self-esteem and found I was demonstrating many of them in private e.g.
* Asking a friend how they are but not showing myself the same tenderness
* Bathing before going out for with you but not bothering when staying in with myself
* Cooking a fresh tasty meal for a guest but feeding myself Dodgy Fried Chicken
* Speaking to my colleagues kindly but to me harshly
* Taking the dog for a walk but not myself
Love is a choice. Looking at 1 Corinthians 13, I see, not romantic twaddle, but gritty, obedient, selfless choosing the best. When I choose to encourage someone who I’d hate to be trapped in a lift with, I’m choosing to love. When I’m challenging someone despite being scared to because they may not like me, I’m choosing to love. I can apply the same to me. Some days I need to choose to love myself, too. When I choose to cook something tasty for myself, to dress becomingly, to thank God for my best qualities, I’m choosing to love myself.
So, I can say wholeheartedly that I’m very proud of myself because I’m made in the image of God, and I’m so proud of Him and His handiwork! I’m humble enough to realise I’m not the most important person in the room, and humble enough to realise I’m not especially terrible either. I can now love myself enough to love my neighbour authentically and genuinely, whether or not I happen to like them (or me) at any given moment. Well aware of my shortcomings, I really like my astuteness, wisdom, green eyes…… I wonder what you most like about you……