Life is a constant exchange. My burden in Christ’s yoke. I am now at loggerheads with myself. This time my entire being is demanded and commanded to be laid down at the altar. My burden is my low self-esteem, for my whole life. Unlike many other things in my life, it is relatively stable and predictable. Hence it is my place of safety.
I have perceived myself the same way all my life, I cannot begin to imagine any change of how I see myself. Apparently, there are new lenses on the market, ones that I haven’t tried yet. My burden, His yoke. My burden has been mine all this time. Being self-critical is how I have always kept myself and others in check.
I am commanded to stop casting stones at others, which then points directly at me and the stone I already cast at myself. It’s a double-edged sword that I wound myself and others with. Sure, it has cost me more relationships than I could count. Those that remain are stained with bitterness, pretense, resentment and competition.
I guess the thought of being different to how I am now scares me but I am willing to try. It does not have to be a burden I continue to carry. The deceptive part of beating yourself up is that you think it pleases God and makes you a humble martyr. Constantly negating how God has made you, is not being self-sacrificial. It’s being unthankful.
Growing up, I struggled with confidence. At five years old, I was hopelessly shy and timid. It became a part of me to always disagree with how I was wired. I always looked at others from a “this is how I should be” lens. They always seemed prettier, happier and admired.
They were lighter, curvier and had straight dental structures, which I did not have. I always perceived others from a standpoint that was shaded with my perceived deficits. I wanted to be anything but me. Anyway but not the way I was.
It was until I met the prettiest and yet miserable people that I began to question my understanding of confidence and self-esteem. Where does it lie? What is it rooted in? Our looks, temperaments, personalities or abilities? I had been an A-student all my life, top of my class. I had won multiple awards. I had obtained a Master’s degree. I was taught that fulfillment came from accumulating these so-called achievements.
A low self-esteem may stem from various sources: critical parenting, childhood trauma, distant parenting and many other things. I believe deep down all of us have some area(s) where we feel inadequate and thus insecure. These feelings are present in some degree in all of us because we are human beings, living in a fallen world.
Moreover, we have managed as a society to convince ourselves that we can financially compensate for what we feel we lack. Braces, implants, biopsies and the like. Unaware that life has become a competition where we measure ourselves against others. The contestants must try by all means to eliminate each other. At the surface lies, fake ‘I love yous’ and ‘BFFs’
It was until God said to me “The reason you have been finding it difficult to fellowship with me and pray for others is that you are critical of them in your mind.” I realised that negative thoughts about others would pop in my head during intimate times of prayer. Yet it wasn’t about getting rid of these thoughts in those moments.
When I took a closer look, I began to see that the broken finger I pointed to others was pointing right back at me. So, the problem lay especially with me than with others. So, I had to first begin surrendering, all I had ever known. A negative attitude towards myself.
As I journey through this shedding of self-loathing, I hope to come out a better person and to have authentic, long lasting relationships. 2020 has really felt like an open-heart surgery.
As I open the scriptures…
Tell us: What have you discovered about yourself in 2020 that isn’t a good trait?