One of the most natural habits I acquired through life was that of putting myself down. I didn’t need anyone talking down at or to me because I was already so good at doing it to myself.
I was never berated while growing up. I just always wanted to be the best at everything, so I put unnecessary pressure on myself to succeed no matter what.
In school, if I got a 96 instead of a 100, it was easier to beat myself up for “not being smart enough” than to celebrate the fact that I had passed with a high mark.
Such self-deprecation never actually helped me accomplish or achieve good things. It only fostered a heart prone to endless pain. And it was tiring. The burden of self-degrading thoughts was overwhelming.
Where I erred most, however, was when I never took my heaviness as a sign to stop and surrender. Instead I allowed my mind to further fall into the destructive habit of thinking poorly of myself.
My views of who I was were low. Putting myself down was natural. And my feelings weren’t me just being “modest.” I truly did think very little of myself, to the point where I felt I had no purpose.I insisted on holding on to my self-made mirror instead of looking at the one Jesus wanted to give me instead.
Throughout the years, I knew the truth in my mind—that my value is far more than I could ever imagine, because Jesus died on the cross for me. Sinful, seemingly insignificant me. He gave me new life and new hope. But that head knowledge couldn’t access my heart for the longest time while I held on to my own beliefs of how insignificant I still thought I was.
Until one night at church when my pastor came over to pray for me. As he prayed, he reminded me that God not only loves me, but He is delighted to call me His daughter. And that is what I am. A daughter of God.
As he said those words, it was as if a switch were flipped in my brain. And in my heart, I suddenly understood the truth about myself.
It left me broken, but also with a newfound joy as I learned to surrender my thoughts.
To my low self esteem, God says . . . He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
To my fears of failure, God says . . . Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. (Isaiah 41:10)
To my physical insecurities, God says . . . My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
To my people-pleasing ways, God says . . . Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
To my feelings of hopelessness, God says . . . The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
To my self-demeaning thoughts, God says . . . See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
In time, I’ve found my prayers going from “Lord, help me as I seek to do things for You today” to “Lord, help me simply ‘be’ for You today.”
At times, it’s still easy to slip into old habits of beating myself up, but I don’t stay stuck in those ruts anymore. God in His great faithfulness meets me where I’m at and beckons my heart to move forward with Him.
When I moved from Mexico to Hong Kong nearly three years ago, I found it so easy to compare myself to other women’s academic achievements and statuses. I constantly imagined what life would be like if I had had their qualifications, and I often berated myself for not being as smart or as accomplished. It was draining, unnecessary, and, quite frankly, all superficial.
Over time I learned that as great as such outward qualities may be, at the end of the day, God is more interested in my heart.
Within the last year I’ve slowly stopped comparing myself to others’ academic achievements or statuses. Berating and thinking poorly of myself has lessened more and more as I’ve allowed the truth of Scripture to really sink into my heart. The verses I mentioned above have been key in my life as I learn to see myself as God does.
I keep learning that “being” for the Lord looks like simply listening to what He has to say about me, enjoying His goodness, and resting in His freedom.
The truth about me and the reality of my identity is this: I am a child of God.