Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Fallacy of Self-Esteem: Where do we find our Worth?

            There’s an epidemic in the world today, and it is affecting Christendom just as much as the rest of the world.
            Self-esteem. Self-worth.
            Society touts these terms, placing great emphasis on them. Hence, the masses of sheep that make it up buy into this trash.
            What’s wrong with valuing yourself?
            There is a distinct difference between considering one’s life worth something and considering oneself perfect the way they are. The former is a correct view. The latter is a dangerous one.
            When we are told to have high self-esteem and self-worth, we are fooling ourselves into a false worldview. God gives us all life, and we have been created in His image. That gives us all value. But we must not confuse this value as to have an excuse to be prideful and unchanging.
            “This is who I am, and no one is going to change me.” How prideful and how misled! We need to look at the biblical view of humanity. It’s pretty bleak. The Bible says that we have “all gone out of the way” and “together become unprofitable”. That “there is none that doeth good”, that “there is no fear of God before their eyes”. Read Romans 3. Read Romans 1 while you’re at it.
            Isaiah says our righteousness, the very best we have to offer God, is like filthy rags. Or to be more specific as to the meaning of that word, menstrual rags. This isn’t shock treatment. This is what the Bible says about us.
            The problem with self-esteem is that we create an elevated view of ourselves. We begin to think that we are lacking nothing- that we’re just fine the way we are. But that view, however harmless is seems, runs contrary to the truth of God’s Word. We’re not “just fine”. We’re not “perfect”. We’re not even “good”. We are evil to the core, because sin is evil to the core and we have a sin nature from beginning to end.
            It’s not a popular view, because it involves people realizing they need work. Humans are naturally prideful; don’t tell us we need to change.
            When our satisfaction is based on how we view ourselves, which we are told can change (otherwise there would be no need for a self-esteem movement; the entire thing is based on changing your view of yourself), people are left in some serious trouble. Whenever someone feels sad or worthless, their “self-esteem” goes down. Their worth is based on how they are feeling at the time.
            Please don’t misunderstand me. Depression in some cases is caused by physical imbalances. It makes it difficult for those affected to come out of it. But I believe sometimes an individual chooses to be sad. Yes, there are bad things that happen to them, as they do to everyone. But instead of trying to find joy, they allow themselves to fall into the trap of “depression”, where those who don’t want to feel happy are destined to end up.
            It is comparable to ADD or ADHD. There are some people that truly have more trouble concentrating than others. But there are other kids that simply are not disciplined by their parents, and could be snapped out of it and get taken off medication if only they got a good whipping every once in a while. So do not skew what I am saying. I am not referring to chemical imbalances, but to a choice that every person faces: whether they will be joyful regardless of circumstances or be miserable because things aren’t going their way.
            True, you can always choose to feel better, but we are often taught that we can’t control how we feel. I many times feel upset when things don’t go the way I wanted, but I get back up and choose to take joy in life. But depression, like ADHD, is so emphasized in our society, not to mention its profitability to pharmaceutical companies, some see it as an option. It’s a pity party of one, trying to gain steam and bring others in.
            Depression can further slip into a selfish action called “suicide”, where an individual decides to make a permanent “solution” to their temporary problems. There are some mental disorders, prescription drugs, and brain damage that can cause people to go this far. Yet other times, it is simply seeing no other option. This is awful that a person would come to such as conclusion, but it is also misled.
            This is what we have seen once again with someone who we would think had it pretty good. I liked Robin Williams just fine. But I have trouble celebrating someone who took their own life. What message does this send to others considering suicide? "Kill yourself, and society will weep for you and you'll get all sorts of attention." It's not at all that suicide isn't sad, but it's a selfish act. No consideration to friends and family. It's similar to giving murderers a lot of attention. People crave the spotlight, and many are willing to do ANYTHING to get there.
            Which is why I have a problem with memorializing someone who commits suicide. It is why I have a problem putting an empty chair in a graduation ceremony to honor someone who chose to kill himself. I’m sure many readers are considering me quite heartless right now. But suicide has personally affected me. I had a friend in high school who chose that route. Yes, it is sad, but it is foolish. It is a shame that people find that as the only route to end their hurt, and to get people to notice along the way.
            Why selfish? He didn’t care enough about his friends, teachers, and people that cared for him to know how they would feel. He didn’t care about what he could have contributed to society. He didn’t care enough about his own mother to think that he was the closest person to her in his life. He didn’t care that it was her that would find him with his head splattered over the wall.
            I believe God creates us all with different weaknesses. For some it might be depression and self-worth. For others, perhaps alcohol, drugs, or lust. Why would He do this? Because His “strength is made perfect in weakness”. Hence why Paul chose to “glory in mine infirmities”. Because we cannot defeat this issue on our own, we are forced to lean on God or fail. God is more than capable of overcoming these problems.
            Back to the original point. Self-esteem causes problems, but there is a worse problem. The Bible is clear that we cannot save ourselves, that we are not good enough. Yet there is a popular belief, even held among many Christians, that we are good enough. There is NOTHING that makes us good enough.
            Then how do we value ourselves? Our value comes not from our actions, but from our position. Christians should know better than to promote a self-love affair. What we should promote is a Savior who loves us despite our evil and loved us enough to take all that sin upon Himself and die for us. When we accept Christ’s gift and make Him our Savior, the Bible tells us that we are made joint-heirs with Him. We are made God’s children. Even though the only thing our undeserving selves should get is Hell, we are allowed not only to be spared of that but to be seated at God’s table. If you’re looking for self-worth, that is where you find it.

            We can rely on money, but it has been seen that often the unhappiest people are the wealthiest people. We can look to others, but they shift like the sands of the desert. We can look inside ourselves, but all we’ll find is how worthless we are alone. The way to gain that worth, even that immortality, that humans crave, is to run to the God who considers us worthy. Society's view will lead you to vacillation and destruction. God's view is the key to living a life of purpose.

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