You can find Beth blogging over at Plan B. Be sure to check out her blog where you can read about many interesting and inspirational topics.
I hear it preached in churches. The message is there on the regular be it subtle or overt:
Self esteem = Bad. Self flagellation = Good.
Now, maybe I am some kind of rare exception (although I doubt it,) but my struggle is not with believing that I am not as great as I think I am. I have no problem attributing titles like “sinner,” “Condemned,” “unclean,” to myself. None. Whatsoever. Because I know they are true. I feel them deeply. They are the titles I tend to favor when establishing any description of myself.
What I struggle with is taking the other, equally true things that the Word of God says about me and applying them to myself. Forgiven. Accepted. Chosen. Holy. Beloved.
I sat in a counselor’s office during a time of great upheaval in my life and heard her say to me “God adores you. You are His favorite.”
Yeah. All of my flesh and all of my theology recoiled against that one. “God doesn’t have favorites,” I thought to myself, “and even if He did, I certainly wouldn’t be it.”
I’m the fat one. I’m the slow one. I’m the stupid one. My brother, now there’s a favorite!
The voice of abusers and accusers assaulted my mind and rebelled against this outlandish idea of hers. I rested again in the horrid comfort that they brought. Because that was my safe place. My refuge. When things don’t make sense, it’s because I’m horrible. The worst. I deserve it. And doesn’t the Word of God back that up if I cherry pick it just the right way? I find comfort in these thoughts because they are my core belief. They are the thing I go back to again and again to realign myself when things go topsy turvy.
What kind of junk is that??
Now, I am not a theologian, a scholar, or an expert in anything at all really, but I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty as a mother made in the image of God:
That is not what Jesus died for.
I am a sinner. But when I (Even I! The mom who doesn’t bathe her children regularly and sometimes gives them goldfish crackers for breakfast! Who yells and makes wrong choices!) when I look at my children, I see value. I see people worth fighting for, worth choosing. Worth disciplining and rejoicing over. I see eternal beings for whom Jesus walked up the hill towards Golgotha thinking “They are the joy set before me!” I see Him lovingly crafting their smiles, their hearts, the sound of their cries. I know from experience that as I add to my family, my love for my children will not be divided, but expanded. I know that I can whisper secretly and truthfully to each of my children, “I adore you. You are my favorite.”
If that’s how I see my children, how much more perfectly does God see them? And me? And you?
“You are all fair my love, and there is no spot in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
Now, either God is delusional, or this is the real actual truth about what He sees when He looks at His bride through the blood of Christ.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that that is what He would desire for our core belief to be. Because I, as an imperfect parent, want my children to know their intrinsic value as beings created in the image of God for whom Jesus bled out and died and conquered death, how much more does our perfect Father want us to be utterly convinced of that?
I always look to the Lord when I make parenting choices. So I made the choice several years ago to tell my kids, every day “I love you. I like you just the way you are. I adore you. You are my favorite.” Because every day, God whispers the same thing to me.
So, regardless of how the Church feels about self-esteem, regardless of what man has told us we should think about ourselves, I want my children to see themselves the way that God sees them.
He adores them.
They are each His favorite.