The Heart of the Beholder: The Power of God-esteem
By Lori Freeland –
Cool air streamed through the open window, cooling the cup of cinnamon coffee at my elbow. I extended my hand towards my laptop to chase away the screen saver, a photo of Alek and me in the backyard with the dog. I caught myself drifting quickly past the image of me to focus on my son. Not because I wished Alek would pass through the skater stage and get a haircut, but rather because I didn’t care to scrutinize myself too closely.
Too late. One glance was all it took. Was I really that fat? Had my smile always been so crooked? Was that cellulite on my arm? My husband lied to me. I did look forty! This particular photo of Alek and I had been my rebellion to watching fish swim endlessly to nowhere. The fish were looking better all the time.
As I leaned back in my chair to sip the coffee, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine that similar questions played through the heads of other women as well. I’ve learned from personal experience that showing a woman a picture of herself insures the critic in her will emerge to wreak havoc on her self-esteem.
By the time we hit our early thirties, we’ve lived with years of the world’s “ideal.” Add some more years to that and we know that the world has given outward appearance too much weight and the beauty of character too little value. But we still feel the pressure.
As a little girl, I gave my life to Christ, committing to take my eyes off myself and place them on Him. However, the world’s ideology managed to slip in, unbidden. I knew truth would not be found on television or in People Magazine. But if I were to be painfully honest, I would admit that the world’s opinions mattered.
But why? Why had I allowed the world, the antithesis of God, to be my judge? How many times had I read God’s love letter, only to hitch up my baggage, my enormous burden of worthlessness, so that I could drag it with me when I was done?
I forgot that in Christ, God gazed upon me with a perfect, father heart. I forgot His priorities were radically different from mine. Accepting what He saw was difficult for me. Full of insecurities, focused on the outward, I had been missing His blessing and Love.
I lifted my Bible from the corner of the desk and settled in to soak up His truth.
His love letter said that I was worthy! Christ gave His life so that I may live (John 3:16). God gave me gifts and talents so that I could serve Him. Nothing could separate me from His love (Rom. 8:35-39). I was wonderfully and fearfully made (Ps. 139:14) and my weakness would be made strong in Him (2 Cor: 8-10). Outward appearance was fleeting, but my heart’s condition was genuine (I Pet. 3:3-5). I could do anything with Christ in me (Phil. 4:13). He was my sustainer (Ps. 55:22) and He promised to fulfill His purpose in me (Ps. 139:8). His Word became my life preserver in the vast ocean of the world’s judgment and deceit.
I finished reading, praying that I would be able to place my self-esteem in His trustworthy hands. What I needed instead was God-esteem. I glanced back at the picture on my screen saver. My fingers moved past Alek, and the dog, to trace tentatively over me. Peace settled warmly in my heart. Grinning, I left my baggage checked behind. I didn’t need it anymore.
Lori Freeland is a freelance author from Dallas, TX. In addition to the articles she is writing for The Christian Pulse, she is currently working on her first novel, which is based on the journey her own family has taken in the world of pediatric cancer.