Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Battle Within

Self-esteem takes years to build, and only seconds to destroy. It's such a fragile thing. So easy to lose. Our society is not known for making confidence an easy thing for women to grasp. We're constantly being compared to the models on TV, the "power" women in business, the supermoms. We don't have a chance against the perfect, make-believe women that are pushed on us from all sides. Their lives are wonderful, their skin is flawless. They don't deal with depression or anxiety, they stay thin without trying. They make six figures, they own three houses. They are perfection incarnate. And they aren't real. The women we see in magazines have flaws, they simply don't let anyone see them. Deep down, they're just as insecure as the next girl.

The problem is, we allow our self-esteem to be based heavily on the opinions of those around us. When someone says something negative about us, we begin to question everything we respect about ourselves. The world's solution to this problem is to "believe in yourself." And "don't base your opinion of yourself on what others say, base it on what you think about yourself." There's a HUGE problem with that logic. Our self worth should never be based on what we think of ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves. Our self-confidence should ALWAYS be centered on seeing ourselves the way GOD sees us. We should find our worth in His eyes, not our own.

We can't rely on how we feel day to day to be an indication of what kind of value we have. God is the only one who knows what He has planned for us. He is the only one that values us the way we are meant to be valued. He loves us. He believes in us.

As a child, I did not have very many friends. I was weird, homeschooled, a tomboy. In college I spent all of my time making friends, to prove to myself that I was pretty and smart and fun. I did a lot of things to boost my self-esteem. It took years, but my hard work did pay off. I graduated college with more friends than I had ever known. I felt sexy. I felt smart. I felt valued. Why? Because I managed to convert the attention of others to self affirmation.

But that kind of confidence doesn't last. It worked for me for years. But in the matter of a few short months, it all came crumbling down. Everything I had ever "known" about myself felt like it was thrown back in my face. The world taunted me with "you're not good enough," around every corner. My writing was torn apart and rebuilt without my permission. It felt like my intelligence was questioned by my superior every day. My fashion sense went down the drain when I gained a few pounds. All of my Jesus-related obligations were taken from me. I allowed myself to attach my feelings of beauty to another human, just as flawed as myself. I don't know when it started, but I just lost every shred of my identity.

While wallowing in self-pity, I realized this: it's not about me. What I think about myself is just a bunch of malarkey. What God thinks about me is what really matters. He doesn't think I'm stupid or ugly or a bad writer. I am His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), He has great plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing I do or say can change His opinion of me. I am His child, and I am loved. Every step I make should be to glorify Him, not to boost my own confidence. My life should revolve around Him, not myself. It's so hard. But it's so worth it.

I'm revamping my life with a larger focus on Jesus. My abandoned prayer journal has been dusted of and reinstated. My husband and I are reading through chapters of the Bible together, my devotions are now starting and ending my day. The more I focus on HIM, the less I can focus on MYSELF. And that's the way it was meant to be.

Jackelyn Stange

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