The Problem – What the Answer Isn’t
In a culture so obsessed with bodies and beauty, yet at the same time so ‘devoted’ to telling the population of women how beautiful they are, fat, skinny, tall, short, blonde, brunette, strawberry or raven – it apparently doesn’t matter, we still seem to have a problem – it’s apparent and we don’t have to identify it, we have girls starving themselves and girls throwing themselves at the feet of pop stars and at the first boy that calls them anything close to pretty. We have boys and men who can’t find anything good to say about themselves (and no one really trying to tell them anything better) than that they can score a good one on the field or they can get a girl in bed with them (which, at the rate of girls falling and groveling at their feet when they hear the word ‘pretty’ I guess it isn’t always too hard). I think I’ve found the cure to our LSES (lack of self-esteem syndrome). Actually, I’m pretty sure taken in proper dosage (literally, the whole message), this will cure this epidemic that has spread so willingly and abundantly in this American culture.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary definition of Self-Esteem:
1. A confidence and satisfaction in oneself: Self-respect
2. An exaggerated opinion of one’s own abilities: Self-conceit
Cambridge Dictionary defines it as: A respect for yourself.
America’s idea of self-esteem: Believing in yourself. confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.
So, the idea of self-esteem is to boost your own worth and status I guess.
Boosting Self-Esteem isn’t the answer to our problem.
Maybe I should say that again: Boosting Self-Esteem isn’t the answer to our problem.
Magazines ads forwarding messages from pop stars and female politicians has never worked and isn’t about to start. Selling more revealing clothes in the juniors department with bold phrases that try to tell the world we know we’ve got it going on, Victoria’s Secret making a line of lace for pre-teens, boxes of Captivating in bulk, and feminists rising to the top of the social ladder hasn’t made things better. In fact, the harder we push for self-esteem the way we have been, the more kids under 18 we’ll find in someone else’s bed besides their own.
But God and His reality has an answer for us – here’s the truth;
Why Self-Esteem Doesn’t Work
We aren’t anything to be proud of. Our worth and identity is trash. Our beauty? Worthless. Our body-type, muscles, waist-lines, singing voice, bright eyes, big smile, dress size, hair color, touch-downs, tackles, jean brand, Miss so-and-so awards, most popular votes and so on and on and on and on….they don’t add up to anything to be proud of and never actually make us feel better. They seem to be the best and highest of importance in our physical appearance to the world because that’s what’s on the magazine covers and news reports for all the big timers, right? So, you ask, isn’t this old news in the Christian circles? Haven’t we heard the message of ‘this earth and all it’s treasures shall pass away but not the love of God” already, and too many times? Yes. We have. We’ve also heard the Proverbs 31 truth about how beauty is fleeting. We’ve heard the story of David and how he was the least of his brothers in looks and stature. So, fellows, this message, if you can’t tell yet, is for you in your insecurity and well as this generation of insecure women and girls.
You are probably thinking, “Em, we already have talked about how beauty doesn’t last forever and how it doesn’t matter in heaven, we’ve heard it a hundred times before and we’re sick of that message. We care about the here and now anyways, not too much about heaven’s idea of beauty or stature…I mean, we care about it, when it comes, but for right now we want to know we are cared about – that people notice us and how we look.” I hear the women saying, “Doesn’t God want to tell me I’m beautiful? Doesn’t He want me to feel special? Shouldn’t we have more people telling the girls that we’re gorgeous no matter what? That we’re perfect in every way just the way we are? I mean, I’m so insecure and I just know if I had a guy telling me I’m pretty I could make it! We need more guys to tell girls we’re pretty!” and I could say, that this little dialogue sounds sort of like what you would’ve read in my journal at one recent point in my life. I hear ya. I also hear the men and boys saying “Yeah, so and so gets all the girls with that body of his…and he’s just got this smile that ‘gets girls’ ya know? And I could never be as buff as him…he’s a jock! I wish I could be like that….I try to work out and bulk up and wear the muscle shirts. But I just don’t have it. And when he worships? Like, he just looks so cool. I am just so awkward and look weird.” Men, I hear you, and you need to know this truth just as much as the ladies; you’ll never have it till you have Him. And whenever you walk without Him you’ve lost it. You are attractive in the light of the Lord and only when you are living for Him. You know the Audience of One thing? Well, truth is – you’ve got an audience of whoever’s around you. I mean, that’s the truth. You could have a knock-out body or personality or both, and walk by a crowd of peeps with eyes bulging, but let me tell ya – everyone I’ve ever met who had that ‘going’ for them were just as lost as I was in my average girl mentality and just as insecure about needing to ‘look’ better. And you know the thing about how a ‘personality’ makes all the difference? Not without Christ it don’t. I’m putting it straight; see that guy in the jeans and vest over there – rocking it in worship? The one who has the Prom Queen as his date, the quarter back position on the field, the big biceps on his arms, the Justin hair sweep – yeah, him – the one sitting back there. And see that girl? The one with the body – closing her eyes and raising her hands? The one who sings for worship sometimes and wins those talent shows? Yeah – the guy’s Prom Queen date – she’s going to cosmetology school this fall – yeah – that one. You know what I’m talking about – that ability to strut the stuff. I’ve wanted that – to be the gorgeous babe who can do all things and have all men. You men have wanted it to – to be the perfect Church dude – have the girls giggling about you and saying how amazing you are with the body you have and how spiritual you are.
Okay now…time to take a deep breath and settle down. I know I’ve pushed a few buttons and it seems I am a very opinionated young woman – too much so for her own good.
So, I think the question is this; What’s wrong with the above mentioned lives? That boy with the body and the Bible? The girl with the worship voice and the Prom Queen title? I hear both the men and the women asking “Why are you judging them? If they can do both at once good for them! You’re just jealous – in fact we’re jealous! We wish we could be like that! And think of the platform you’d have for Christ! All the people you could tell about Jesus! They are so lucky…” Truth is Church, Jesus doesn’t need a platform. He already has one and He doesn’t need your social status to work what He wants.
I see the lives of these young people – having the gift of a crowd of onlookers oohing and ahhing at their performance in the world. I see these kids leading Bible studies but not studying the Bible. They teach the familiar and comfortable message of loving your neighbor and the ever popular “Believe in yourself!” – I see them buying the newest phones and listening to the newest songs about how much God must love us…and I see the lives of the apostles and prophets. Crying to be heard. With people spitting at them and throwing rocks and spears at them because they’re message is from God and asks them to give up living for the joy of the world. They weren’t leading Bible studies – they were leading mission trips that never ended! They cried to the people the message of leaving the old man behind and going on with the new man, the message of John 15:5 and …this scripture comes to mind;
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
I am going to show you some words from God, and then you can take it from Him, because I’ve certainly said a lot.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool….
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee….</strong
The only thing that is wrong with this teaching of self-esteem is this; It allows for self-sufficiency and
luke-warm Christianity. And we know if our Christianity is luke-warm, it’s not real and it makes God want to spue us out of His mouth. Kinda sounds like the Self-Esteem mentality makes God feel like throwing up.
I want to say this though; I am desperately needy in this heart of mine. I need to know I am loved, thought of as beautiful, adored and wanted.
God tells me all that.
Ha. Funny, isn’t it? This powerful punch to the gut of self-esteem and outward beauty and personality – and then I go and tell you God tell’s me I’m beautiful.
The thing that is different about this is this; God cannot tell me that I am beautiful until I am in Him. This is not because He’s using me for His gain alone and doesn’t care about my soul – no. It is because without Him our souls are filthy and empty. Yes, our bodies might be able to look ‘good’ but He doesn’t care about flesh – I mean, it’s decaying! When a person is simply following Him around asking for Him to make them feel good, it won’t happen. Because it’s like the priests who asked for the bread of life, but couldn’t have it cause they were expecting it to be handed to them and then they could go on living in Self-Esteem and sufficiency forever.
I tried to make this message short and to the point. I thought about making it into 3 parts. I even thought about just not writing it. But hey, I have been struggling with this issue of Self-Esteem for so long…and even if I can’t get it perfectly worded and laid out, I’d thought I’d let you in on what I’m learning from God’s word and how He’s taught me through experiences and struggles – I’m so stubborn and it takes me awhile to agree with what He says is true. I know, I’m stupid. That’s why I had to write this.
Cause we’re nothing without Him.
For the King – let’s move forward.