“I wish I had more self-confidence.”
My heart is pounding, my palms sweaty, my fingers cold as ice, and I cannot quite take in a full breath of air. I am standing in general assembly on my first day of first grade, waiting with hundreds of kids to be divided into our various classes, and I am terrified.
I’m not just afraid of the usual things, like talking to the teacher, or meeting my new classmates, or the schoolwork. What I am truly terrified of is that I will do something unforgivably horrible or stupid that will definitively prove to the world that I am worthless.
I am sure that everyone remembers being scared and nervous as a child, but I suspect not every child is as haunted as I was by such a strong sense of inadequacy. Some of us struggle more than others with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and self-doubt throughout our lives. My journal still includes occasional confessions like: “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I feel so stupid.” “It’s all my fault.” “I know I’m going to fail.”
It took me a long time to realize that my feelings of inadequacy are simply feelings. They can’t show me the full truth about myself--who I am in God’s eyes. The Scriptures repeatedly remind me of the truth that no matter what I think of myself, God always loves me.
From God’s Heart to Yours
“[Y]ou are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you” (Isa 43:4).
Hidden in the Darkness:
This passage from Isaiah reveals the Lord’s startling attitude to the chosen people and to each of us: the almighty Creator of heaven and earth doesn’t take us for granted but cherishes us and delights in who we are. God sets no conditions for loving us. God doesn’t need us to have a good opinion of ourselves in order to love us. Even in the darkness of low self-esteem, God loves us.
Our self-image reflects one, or maybe several, aspects of our identity, as a pencil sketch gives an impression of a mountainside. But God doesn’t need a sketch. God walks on the mountainside and sees it from every angle, in all its glorious colors and majesty, from every point in time. God knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. God sees us as we truly are: our inner essence, our entire history, our longings, our gifts, our potential, and our woundedness. And God finds us beautiful. The language used in Isaiah--even in such a short statement--is tenderly extravagant.
The Word of God can powerfully transform us if we let it in, past our inner defenses.
How can we allow God’s love into the picture we have of ourselves?
We can start now by taking a moment to simply stay with these words from Isaiah, hearing God speak them to us in the depths of our heart . . .
If that is too difficult, we can take a moment to think of someone who is dear to us, perhaps remembering our last conversation, or the ways that person has enriched our life.
Now, we imagine God bringing us to mind in the same way.
We can take joy today that God sees into the very core of who we are, and cherishes us.
Through the Day
Lord, I rejoice in your love for me.
Excerpted from See Yourself Through God’s Eyes: 52 Meditations on Self-Esteem.