Can you remember a moment in time or a particular event in which you loved yourself? Maybe it was when you were wearing something special or winning a sporting event at school? I can remember a couple of occasions like this and in those moments, no one could have said anything to make me feel bad about myself. I felt confident. I loved myself.
We all struggle with self esteem at times but despite the never ending day in, day out bullying at school, my self esteem/self love has never been as low as it has been once I got ill. What I used to lack in friends, I made up for by spending time with family. What I lacked in money to buy the latest gadgets, I made up in creative, imaginary games. What I lacked in sporting ability I made up for in hard work in classes, even though I wasn’t the most academic either.
Now I can’t make up anything. My body decides what it looks like, how hard it will work, physically and mentally, how much time I spend with friends and ultimately, what I achieve. I can’t balance out the things I don’t like about me with things I do so easily because I can’t do or be what I want.
You might know that YouBelong was shortlisted as a finalist for the Premier Digital Awards. When I found out, I was in shock! For days I couldn’t process the information. ‘Why would anyone want to read what I’m writing, let alone recognise it with an award?’ Then I saw past winners and was blown away by how amazing there projects, websites, social media, apps and podcasts were and the shock quickly changed to imposter syndrome. I believed it because I read it, but I didn’t think I deserved it.
I am writing this post because I know so many of us in the chronic illness/ disabled community have felt this way at least once in our life as a result of our situations. I am happy to have been seeing more posts about productivity not equalling worth going round as when we can’t work or keep a household, it’s easy to wonder what is the point? What’s our purpose?
We are taught to love our neighbour as ourself but how can we do that when we don’t love our selves. A lack of self esteem is the result of a lack of self love. So what can we do? There are a few ways to look at this. For years I have just blocked out and tried to ignore what the people around me are doing so as I can’t be upset by comparing my lack of achievements and life goals with theirs but that can only work doe so long, especially when I use social media on a daily basis.
Instead, I need to look at where I am getting my self esteem from. Rather than looking for it in a place I won’t find it or just blocking it out, I have decided to find it in other places – like the Bible. God tells us that He made us and that He loves us just as we are. Not just when we are running youth groups, leading services or saving lives but just the way we are. Maybe you are reading this from your bed on a bad flare up day and you can’t even get up to to get dressed or get yourself a drink. God loves you and still sees you as amazing. It’s nice to have compliments about the way we look or what we have done but it surely can’t get better than our creator telling us we are beautiful and great just as we are. ‘Doing’ nothing.
Mary and Martha are a great example of this. One of them rushed about to get everything sorted and ready so as she could please Jesus and feel she’s done a good job. The other sat and just listened yet Jesus praised that behaviour.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, there is nothing we can do to make God love us less but there’s also nothing to make God love us more. Whether you are asleep all day or out on the streets feeding the poor, God loves you – you just need to work on loving you too.
Knowing that YouBelong is being recognised for something is something I can be proud of as it is not where my worth comes from, that is in who I am as a child of God. If I do this, I won’t become big headed or find myself in the midst of Imposter Syndrome again because my worth is not in what I have or have not done.
Is there some areas of your life you need to work on in terms of self worth? Perhaps your self worth is in your 9-5 job, your creativity, time doing deeds for others (never a bad thing but not where your self worth should come from) or the way you look? Write these down to remind yourself these are not the place to find your worth because if something happens to your job, your ability to create or your physical being, you will lose your worth. You are a child of God = loved and worthy.