Grace Michaelson

Humility & Self-Esteem

May
19

As a Christian I am familiar with a few Christian buzz words that we all learn to either adore or abhore.  Two of those words are “humility” (to adore) and self-esteem (to abhore).  They are complete opposites in the Christian faith and they are both treated as appositional to each other.  A true Christian, it is believed, can’t be humble without being self-deprecating.  Self-esteem preaches the idea that you aren’t self-deprecating, right?  That you actually choose to accept and love yourself for who you are created to be and who you are.  Humility, it is believed, comes from the verses such as:

Luke 9:23. “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me”

James 4:10, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Humility is honored, Self-esteem is put down and made fun of.  I have spent years being confused and disturbed by the teachings of humility that I have gotten in my past.  If humility is truly self-deprecation, then why does God put such emphasis in Scripture about giving people gifts of the Spirit and having us use such gifts?  He obviously wants to use us in His Kingdom and use our strengths.  I doubt he wants us to worry about how we word what we say or how we say things, such as:

“I am gifted to write, by the grace of God…”

Just because we say “by the grace of God”, doesn’t change the fact that we said what we are gifted in or make us less or more humble.  I think it’s OK that I can acknowledge my gift of writing.  I also don’t think God needs me to play the game of adding a “humble add-on” like “by the grace of God” because it’s already a given that everything comes from God and everything can be taken away in a moment’s notice.  I could have a freak accident where I lose my arms and then my writing is gone, right?

Humility is knowing and understanding that our gifts are there to be used by God, but that they can be removed at a moments notice and being OK with that that truth.  Can you be OK with that truth?  Can I?  The trick is holding everything with hands palms up and fingers flat.

It’s OK to accept yourself, to even know that you’re “good enough”.  After all, God felt you were worth it enough to come down as Jesus to die on the cross for your sins in order to establish a relationship with you.  Self-esteem, with the latter thought in mind, is not so bad, is it?  Self-esteem with the thought that everything and everyone should look at you and keep you in mind as the next best thing to the Prince of Peace is not OK, of course.  Balance is the key.  Keeping in mind why we are good enough is a good idea. Knowing that we don’t have to play mind games or word games is also OK.  Christian Lingo needs to go and we need to just be ourselves.  The “ourselves” that God was OK with coming down to Earth to save because He loves us dearly.

James 4:10 is about being humble when we are confessing our sins, if we look at the whole passage.  It’s so easy to look at one verse and take a concept and twist it.  We must look at the whole passage to find the truth of the scripture.

Luke 9:23 is talking about sacrifice in the midst of service for the kingdom.  It has to do with the “open hands” concept that I spoke of earlier.  Although it does speak of humility, I believe, it’s not speaking of self-deprecation.  Self-deprecation is never spoken of in scripture.  That is a worldly concept that is a replacement the devil brought in to confuse and deceive Christians in order to side-line us and make us not useful for the Kingdom of God.

So the next time you feel tempted to be self-deprecating in the place of humility.  Remember who you are in Christ.  Remember your gifts God has given you and try a little honoring of those gifts God gave you– not with word games– just with honest honor to the gift God gave you.  Yes, it’s OK.

Those Unhappy New Year’s Resolutions!

Jan
01

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New Year’s feels like a fresh start. I know how you feel. A new lease on life. A new chance to start over. You’ve turned the page over and covered up the scribbled up page of 2015 and now you have this nice clean page labeled “2016” and suddenly you have this surge of energy and the first thing that pops into your head is all the things you want to change from that scribbled up page called “2015”. Oh, no, no, no, Girl… that’s the mistake you made from all the other scribbled up pages called 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012… Well, you get the picture. Those unhappy New Year’s resolutions cannot be the first thing you write on this beautiful new year you have in front of you. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath and step back from the page and let’s think about what would be the best thing to write first.

Hmmm… Let’s talk first about what a new year’s resolution is not. It’s not a new start. It’s not a new beginning. It’s not a new thought. If it were a new start, you wouldn’t have started those same resolutions last year.

A start denotes the idea that it was never tried before. It denotes the idea that you have been empowered. It denotes the idea that you are not trapped in a circular idea of insanity. There is a saying that goes like this: The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again expecting a different result.” Here’s a new definition for a new year’s resolution: Doing the same new year’s resolution over and over again expecting a different result.

A new beginning sounds like it’s the same as a fresh start, but I see it as more than a start. It goes on longer than just the start. It gives you the assurance that the start will continue. The beginning is something deep in your heart that says, “This is permanent. This is final. This is forever.” Let’s face it. We all make new year’s resolutions with the intent to break them. Then we feel miserable. Cross, scribble, or rip them off our year’s once beautifully white page and then our year’s page is tainted and not white anymore. Wouldn’t you rather put things on your page that is permanent and healthy? Something that will truly give you a healthy new beginning?

Finally, a new year’s resolution is not a new thought. This one is the most obvious. This year’s resolutions are the exact resolutions you made least year, aren’t they? And the one’s you made the year before? So obviously you need to come up with a way to empower yourself to do these things without making them resolutions. They are obviously things you want, or you wouldn’t make them fruitless wishes that never come true.

Now that we’ve burned up those unhappy resolutions before we ever made them, let’s look at our still happy beautiful year and think about what we’re going to write on our still beautiful clean sheet. Because obviously we need to start writing on it. We need to write down memories, both happy and sad, we need to write down feelings, both the “bad” ones and the “good” ones, we need to write down the thoughts, the confusing ones, the intelligent ones, the stupid ones, and the everyday ones, and we need to write down so much more. It’s so, so important, though, to start the year out writing down some strong words:

Here’s a few I thoughts for you:

I am a beautiful person

Whoever thinks differently, is missing out on a very special gift

The mirror misses all the greatest things about me

My soul/spirit needs to eat healthier than my body does

You get the picture, see if you can think of somethings to add to your 2016 page. Forget those unhappy resolutions. Be kind to yourself. Love life. Be joyful. Walk away from the toxic. Cling to what is good. Happy New Years!!

Philippians 4:8, 9B (NLT) “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

 

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