How often do you feel like you don’t measure up? For me, it happens pretty regularly. I feel like I’m not a great mom when I snap at my kids. Or when my focus shifts from trying to keep up on the housework to something else, and then I look around and feel surrounded by mess and clutter. Or when what I intended to say to my husband came out wrong and ended up leading to miscommunication and division rather than connection. And that doesn’t even get into what the world tells me about what sort of woman I should be.
It’s so, so easy to get in your head and let your feelings rip your self-esteem to shreds. I have moments where I overcome the self-doubt and feel confident, only to find myself feeling awkward and self-conscious the next moment. That’s one of the reasons I appreciated this section of Chasing David by Rene Schlaepfer so much (see my previous Chasing David posts here).
On pages 40 and 41, Rene wrote:
God sees you, with your wounds, your shortcomings, your embarrassments, and He whispers “I choose you. I empower you. You have a role in my plan for the world.” …Replace critical voices with what God says about you, according to Scripture. You are chosen. Beloved. Empowered.
He calls this idea of speaking God’s truth to yourself God-esteem (as opposed to self-esteem).
I like the idea of having positive thoughts about myself that are based in truth, so I can go back to them in those moments where my feelings lie to me and tell me I’m a failure and I’m terrible at everything. I especially like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Ephesians 2:10. I have a really hard time with memorization, but those are two verses on my list to try to internalize better.
Psalm 139:13-19 is a good section, too. I like the imagery of God knitting us in our mothers’ wombs. I don’t knit, but I think of it as something you do intentionally because you enjoy it. People don’t seem to knit things they don’t want; in my experience they’re proud of what they’ve created and it holds special value to them. I think that’s a good perspective for how God sees us, too.
As a side note, finding self-affirmation through scripture is something Chip Ingram with Living on the Edge talks about, too. If you’re looking for an existing resource, his affirmation cards look like they’d provide some great direction (although I haven’t actually seen them up close).
Find Your Identity
Rene also points out that no matter what you do, you will hear criticism, insults, and threats. That’s why it’s crucial to make the foundation of your identity how God sees you, not how others see you. And this is something you can only receive, not achieve (page 44).
I think this is a good reminder to pray. When you hear criticism or feel threatened, try not to get defensive. Take a step back, talk to God, and ask Him to help you see how He sees you instead of getting wrapped up in worrying about what others think.
Rene goes on to write that when bad things happen, that doesn’t mean God un-chose you, it just means life is happening. Remind yourself of your own chosenness and watch how God redeems even the detours, delays, and disasters to accomplish your destiny.
He points out a good example of this in some of the Psalms David wrote about his family. David writes about how his mother and father have forsaken him (Psalm 27:10) and he’s a stranger to his brothers (Psalm 69:8). He wrote this after he was chosen and anointed, too, so it’s a real-life example that the pain of broken relationships doesn’t just vanish. David still felt that pain. The difference is he was able to see his identity through God rather than through those broken relationships.
Sharing With Our Kids
We’re not the only ones that need to learn how to embrace God-esteem and find our identity in Him. How can we teach our kids to do this, too?
Prayer comes to mind. I could definitely do a better job of praying that my kids find their identity in Christ, and that they replace their negative self-talk with God’s powerful truths about them.
Teaching them scripture comes to mind, too. Just because I struggle with memorization doesn’t mean I shouldn’t encourage them to memorize verses. The ones on my list to internalize better would probably be good for them to know, too. The verses I know best are songs, so maybe we can even make up a song and/or hand motions to help us remember.
As there are opportunities, I also think it’s important to be honest with them about how I’ve learned to do these things, too, and that it’s hard and it’s a process. I often pray the Holy Spirit gives me the words He wants me to say to my daughter now that she’s old enough to start asking more complicated questions.
Those are just a few ideas I have (all of which are a work in progress for me). Do you have additional ways you think would be helpful, too?