There’s a difference between knowing your worth and having self-esteem.
Yesterday, I found myself grooving to Alicia Keys’ song, “A Woman’s Worth,” because it makes me feel sassy and that girl can sing! While riffing along with Ms. Keys, the voice inside my head raised its eyebrow, reminding me that some women grab only the hook and run with it, brashly proclaiming their “worth” without understanding it. They demand the tiara but don’t know how to command respect. Think Marie Antoinette vs Princess Di, or Marilyn Monroe vs Mother Teresa. I’m sure you can think of some modern comparisons, as well. The cake queen demanded VIP treatment and let her people starve until they revolted. The princess won hearts by fighting for the homeless and visiting AIDS victims. The breathless bombshell slept with other women’s husbands and demonstrated the heartbreaking difference between being adored and feeling loved. The Mother died surrounded by love and left a legacy that obliterates my insecurities over not being a bombshell.
I could waste 100 years and 20 million liters of oxygen if I spent my life insistent on being treated like a princess. Biographies and tabloids tell me they wouldn’t be very happy years. Men, you know I’m not just talking to the ladies here. Guys demand recognition too.
On the other hand, I could spend all my energy trying to earn my worth, yet never feel good about myself. An article in Scientific American points out that high self-esteem may elude us even when we are focused on socially responsible goals. “Self-esteem that is contingent on success is fragile.”
You and I have worth. We have extraordinary value. We were handmade by the best Designer out there. He put unique qualities into you and into me, qualities that can shine and be developed through any circumstance in our lives. If you crumple up a $100 bill, rub dirt on it, even stomp or spit on it, it will still be worth $100. Its value doesn’t diminish with abuse. But if you invest it properly, it could grow to thousands. A smart investor learns a technique called Rebalancing. This is a technique where every so often, you realign your investments back to their original percentages. Let’s say you start the year with 33% in conservative funds, 34% in stable large companies and 33% in new businesses and technologies. During the first quarter, tech goes hot and skyrockets in value. At the end of the quarter, you sell some of your tech shares and put the money into the other two sectors. It sounds crazy, right? Why slow down when things are going great? Experts will tell you to stay in balance, because the market goes up—but it also comes down. If you never rebalance, then you become increasingly vulnerable to a crash in that skyrocketing sector, and you miss opportunities in the others. This same principal applies to our lives.
Want to grasp your real value and let it shine? Rebalance regularly:
1. Trust God’s perspective. The applause of others and your own self-perception is going to fluctuate. Some days, self-esteem soars and other days, it lags. A minor change can take a day from one extreme to the other. Right this moment, we come to a sign that God wants to talk to you—I finished that last sentence and picked up my phone to find Zephaniah 3:17. When I opened my Bible app, I didn’t even have to go to my bookmarks, because it was the verse of the day! I love when God confirms that He’s the One talking!
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
The New Living Translation says, “He will take delight in you with gladness, With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
If you are an observer to Christianity but not really a partaker, you might hear song lyrics such as “Saved a wretch like me” and think Christianity is about condemnation and self-deprecation. It’s not. Human beings are pretty complex, and when we as Christians observe our own immature (less than 100 years old) and often selfish natures, while being loved unconditionally and sacrificially by the eternal God…Well, it’s not too hard to call our imperfect selves wretched. But what makes it easier? Being picked up and squeezed with joy by our loving Father. Spend time with God every day. He’s the only one who knows you start to finish, loves you all the way through, and knows where in His world and work you will fit and find happiness.
2. Enjoy your own company. Explore your own likes and dislikes and give yourself time for enjoyment. Don’t rely on the presence of others, but instead purposefully schedule some alone time. This might seem lonely or scary at first, but if you need help getting started, click here. Make notes of your values and needs, things that light you up and things you want to leave behind.
3. Reach out. Find a tangible way to improve a life or community. Find lots of them—you might focus $38 per month on John Michael or Erich, but at least once a week you’re going to run into someone who needs a hand or a listening ear. Ask God to increase your awareness and decrease your shyness when the moment comes. You might even volunteer to tutor or serve at a homeless shelter once a month. Adding an outreach to your schedule will be sure to keep you invested.
One summer when I was young, the Vacation Bible School theme was JOY: Jesus, Others, You. That is a psychologically sound triad. When we balance our lives with these three pivot-points, waking up is a joy. Depression is often a sign that one of these is being ignored or over-ridden by the others. Start the day centered in God’s presence, stay aware of your inner peace-ometer, and reach out to those who need what you can give.
I am participating in Compassion International’s “Release 3” project, and I am praying that the 6 5! children whose packets I have on my desk today will be sponsored by someone who reads my blogs this month. John Michael, Mathias, Deysi (Deysi got a sponsor—woohoo!), Bryan, Erich and Mitiku need your friendship and $38 per month, to make it out of extreme, tummy-growling poverty and into adulthood with skills and opportunities instead of wishes. Let me know which child you’d like to sponsor, and I’ll send you the information. Share this with your friends, too.
In case you wonder, I will never take your money or your credit info. I will send you to the Compassion site and provide you with sign-up information for these children. I get nothing but the joy of knowing that I helped a few more children by spreading the word.
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