“Duh!”, “How Stupid!”, “Dummy!” No, these are not the words of a mom who won’t be voted Mother of the Year, nor are they the words of a teacher who doesn’t like children at all. These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.
I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.
I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!
“She’s just being kind.” These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then. I love compliments, don’t get me wrong – it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight!
We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it. If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired – are you feeling okay?” – I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes!
I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself and I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.
The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.” I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.
The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.
The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.
The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?
So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy and to treat each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show. Care to join me?