Monday, November 17, 2014

Self image - His image

"Mom, can a person really hate themselves?"

I looked up in great surprise.  "What?  Why?"  (See how articulate I was in this crucial teaching moment?!)

"Oh this guy in a book," (Whew!) My older daughter proceeded to tell me the plot of a novel she had been reading where the main character had been abused, believed that everyone he cared about died (therefore people shouldn't love him), and had come over time to truly hate himself.

Dark for a young adult novel, no?!

She got me thinking about the topic of self-esteem.  I don't believe in it. Never have. Self-esteem is believing we are good, capable and complete. And yet any 13 year old knows they are none of these things. It's no use teaching a child to think better of himself than is true; we make ourselves fools and liars. And worse we exclude ourselves from the conversations they need to have about what makes them truly valuable and what to do about their sin.

My daughter was not misled; I have known people who hated themselves.  How does that happen, and how do we prevent it?  How do we keep our children both from self-loathing and its equally evil opposite, pride? 

Although I don't believe in self-esteem, I do believe that understanding certain Bible principles forms the foundation of a mature self-image. Self-image (when it's healthy) is a realistic appraisal of ourselves.  Ideally I want my children to see themselves as God sees them. This Make a Difference Monday, I'd like to share with you the foundational Biblical beliefs that inform a healthy self-image in hopes that you can be ready to build your child up.

1. God made us and all other humans in his image (Genesis 1:27).  There is something wonderful in us that is a reflection of him.  Destroying, dishonoring, or disregarding ourselves or anyone else throws this fact in the face of God our creator (1 John 4:20-21).  All human life is precious in his eyes and must be honored in ours (Exodus 20:13). For our children this not only means that they are valuable, but that they must value those they might otherwise have bullied, overlooked, or disdained.

2. Just like we are all created in God's image, we are all fallen from His glory (Romans 3:21-26). Yet sin is not WHO we are.  It's an affliction, an addiction, and what we do everyday. We should be disgusted and unhappy at the sin we see in ourselves, and like Paul in Romans 7:16-25 we should recognize that sin is killing us. It's easy to hate that which is death to us.  But don't let your child be fooled into thinking that their sin defines them.  God hates sin, but as we'll see in a moment, God loves us!

3. God sent Jesus to save us from our sins.  He longs to remove the guilt of sins already committed. Our sin really is terrible, and it cost God terribly to let Jesus die in our place.  That's how much he loves us (John 3:16).  If we are known wholly by God, who named us his enemies, and loved us anyway, how do we dare hate ourselves? (Romans 5:6-11).

4. Through His Spirit, God empowers Christians to be better than we have any right to be. If we ever felt we were low and bad and no good (and every child and grown-up has felt so), God promises that if we'll submit to his indwelling Spirit we'll become full of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness instead (Galatians 5:16-25).

We were rushing about getting ready to go and the conversation fell by the wayside but a few minutes later she picked it back up.  "How can a person hate themself?"

How would you answer that question?  Think about it.
I replied, "If you didn't believe in sin, but thought you were just that bad and there was no solution, no redemption, wouldn't you hate yourself?"

She shuddered and I did too.  It's a horrifying thought. 
These things that we talk to our kids about when they're little- God made the world; Jesus loves you; He wants us to be good- have to be fleshed out and made real in our children's eyes.  They have to sink in and become the truth that they believe in their bones, their worldview so to speak. 

Only then will they see themselves through their Father's eyes: a person of value made in his image, fallen into sin but redeemable through the gift of his son. 


ME 273 AboveEveryone

No comments:

Post a Comment