Christian Chain Mail No. 4: What if God thinks you suck?
Every day my mom is at work, she forwards me some scriptural word of the day. I usually ignore them, but every once in a while, I read them to find out what dubiously religious Biblical quote-mining is the order of the day. You have have seen the other entries in the series here, here, and here. Today’s edition addresses an email entitled: “Your Self-Esteem Must Come from God.”
…I have called you by your name; You are Mine. Isaiah 43:1
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, ‘Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, ‘I know you.’ How wonderful is that?
Take a moment and consider the things in life that rob us of self-esteem. Words such as, ‘I don’t want you; I don’t love you anymore.’ Or ‘You’re unsuitable for the job; sorry, we have to let you go.’ Or, ‘You keep making the same stupid mistakes. You’ll never get it right.’ Or, ‘Why can’t you be like your brother, or your sister, or so-and-so?’
Understand this: 1) Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you do for a living. Because when you can no longer do it you’ll feel worthless. Think about some of the famous people you know: athletes, artists, speakers, etc. When they can no longer do what they do they often get depressed, even suicidal.
2)Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you own. Recently the U.S. housing market lost up to 40% of its value in one year. Millions of people saw their social status go down and their financial security go up in smoke.
3) Your self-esteem cannot be based on other people’s opinion because it will always make you vulnerable to rejection.
What’s the solution? Discover what God thinks about you and build your life on it. ‘…thus says the Lord, who created you…who…redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.'(Isaiah 43:1 NKJV) It doesn’t get any better than that!
I guess I can see what the intended message of this is. Don’t get caught in the consumerist rat race. Don’t rely on other people’s opinions. Etc.,
But I find this a bit strange.
I may be imagining all this, but I know plenty of people for whom what they had been taught of what God thinks of them led to the demolition of their self-esteem. It was the fuel of their depression.
Those gays…they know what God expects from them. At best, stay abstinent. At worst, just get over that whole attraction to the same sex thing.
They know what they need to do, yet their failures in doing so (or the void in their lives from attempting) aren’t exactly heartening. What is the result of that? What are the consequences of that? Is that the origin of self-esteem?
I know that some people say that self-esteem is overrated anyway. Emphasizing “self-esteem” has grown a generation of sorry, entitled people, some say.
…but I digress. After I posted the original post, I stumbled upon something that President Uchtdorf had said at the October 2010 conference in his talk “Of Things That Matter Most.”
The fourth key relationship is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.
This message heads off one of the criticisms in a way — one shouldn’t criticize and belittle oneself until one begins to hate himself. Yet, I don’t know how God is supposed to be a foundation of self-esteem. How does it create self-esteem to know you’re a “precious daughter or son” of God “with divine potential”? What does that even mean? (And note that for non-LDS Christians, this isn’t even completely true. You are not literally the child of God. You are a creature, perhaps a pet, of a different species who perhaps can be adopted into the family. If I understand correctly.)
What does it mean for God to know you when God doesn’t have a great track record of being there for your birthday (or any other day, for that matter). I understand others’ mileages may vary, with some people feeling that they really do feel the companionship of the spirit or feeling that their prayers are answered, but these are not universal experiences.