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“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

In modern society, the concepts of self-image, self-esteem and self-love have become hot topics and the subject of much discussion. It is not unusual to find expressions of low self-worth, like the one that recently appeared in an advice column. A woman stating that she has won various academic awards and holds three degrees wrote the following: “I am now 48, the mother of two children with special needs. I have spent most of my life being their caregiver and a full-time homemaker. I feel disappointed somehow, as though I wasted my talent. I don’t know how to describe it. I feel as though I was given this talent and I didn’t use it to the fullest. Do I have a responsibility to use my gifts?”  It was signed, “Really Not Conceited.” The response: “You haven’t let anyone down. You’ve raised two kids and made a loving home. So please stop beating yourself up for not having pursued all of your dreams yet . . . It’s about honoring the part of yourself that wants to shine more light onto the world. . . You won’t be satisfied until you do.” My first reaction to this letter was that the lady who penned it was very selfish. A woman who has been given the gift of two children (even if they do have special needs) should be grateful for the blessing of motherhood. I am not sure the columnist helps her, as she concludes that she really needs to continue to find herself and be all she can be.

Someone once wrote: “My mother gave me life and never asked for anything in return. That is her secret you know, always giving without any expectations. She is as constant as the sunrise, the moon, the stars, and I count on her. She helps me find my way through the years and makes me laugh while doing it. There are some things only a mother can do.” I wish I knew that ‘someone’ because I agree with her. When it comes to being a good mother, degrees and academic awards don’t matter. One of the Jesus’ chosen understood this when he wrote: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). This passage certainly encourages us to use our God-given gifts to His glory. Anyone who feels that they have existed as “just a mother and a housewife” is simply missing the point. The Apostle Paul encouraged us to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). For him – that was the be all and end all of finding true happiness while serving God.

The problem is that we are living in a day in which we have become lovers of self. Our society has grown to be fixated on words like self-actualization and self-fulfillment. When we do this, we are practicing self-centeredness. As we strive to lift ourselves up, we fail to exalt God and His plan regarding who we are. While it is always important to utilize our abilities and talents, we must keep in mind who provided those in the first place. We must affirm: “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  Mature believers in Christ know who they are, why they are here, where their strength lies, where they are going, and look forward to their ultimate destiny and reward. When they achieve this level of understanding – they will no longer be dependent on man’s standards for success, the response of others for their happiness, or the need to satisfy any craving for a personal sense of identity. When we comprehend and accept by faith the value God places on our lives, we will find fulfillment like never before.  Therefore, “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3). Then and only then will we even come close to following what He had in mind for us all along . . . that of becoming a complete person.

REFLECTION: Describe in your own words the biblical concept of your self-image.  How does this differ from your actual self-image?  In what areas of your life do you use incorrect standards as a measurement of your effectiveness and success? Do you live daily with an ongoing confidence of God’s love for you? Do you demonstrate it to those around you by your attitude of hopeful living? How might you apply the words of the psalmist who said, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11) to help a struggling mother?



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