This post almost took me a week or so to do. Mostly time constraints and the emotional issues this deals with can be slightly overwhelming for me.
Where does our self worth come from? Circumstances, relationships, tragedies, victories, abilities etc. The common Christian would say it comes from God, but being someone who has struggled; and at times still do wrestle with self-esteem issues I can agree to an extent. The usual Sunday answer is Jesus! Yup! And most will leave it at that, casting away any notion of the other stuff in our worlds that affect our self worth. We either hold too high or too low a standard of self esteem, finding the in between is very difficult. Biblically, I will attempt to cover each example I just shared that our self esteem can be based on and share some examples.
Circumstances: Things happen in our lives that just suck. Either harassment, bullying, assault, the list goes on. We carry these burdens for life because they, like the other thing I describe psychologically mess us up. When people close to us pass away, sometimes we're never the same. Just 4 years ago, my dear Grandmother suddenly fell ill and died within 3 days. boom! out of nowhere (kind of). Did it wreck me? yes! See, back then I was kind of a new believer and have been still struggling with certain sins. I used to think it was my "punishment". Of course, I have matured past that and see God's love in it. Could it of been God's will? Possible, I am not drawing that card though because God's will can be good, but also be used as the biggest cop-out in history (more on that later). How can a crappy little while affect self-worth? Maybe by how we handle it. Some go to the bottle, sex, drugs etc.
What does Scripture say about circumstances? Well, anything and everything really. Job is proof that retribution theology is, in the words of my theology professor malarkey. Retribution theology basically says that if you are a holy, God-fearing person; you will be blessed. And, you guessed it: if your evil you are cursed. Now, it doesn't take too much intelligence to automatically consider it bull, but when you really think about it, it makes sense.. and it doesn't. Confusing eh? God is love, but God is just. So why does he not punish that drug dealer? or that murderer or that child molester?
Romans 5:8- God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Relationships: Oh boy don't get me started!! This is a big one, not only for me. As a young lad, I was nice, innocent and a little weird. But, I wanted to be everyone's friend. Since I had very few to no friends during my elementary school years it made me lonely and think "nobody likes me and for no good reason". I actually only had a handful of friends back then who stuck with me and never betrayed me. Heck, those same people are still friends today. My school buddies, often left me in the dirt (literally) for no justified reasons. High School came around and I had two missions: join a clique, get a girl. They became such high priority, but from realizing what I saw in the mirror everyday I became girl kryptonite. They pretty much laugh when I ask them out. So sure enough when a cute one asks me I go bananas...until I get screwed over. Twice. Both have the same first name. It took me a while before I could even trust women again, let alone even THINK about pursuing one. I completely refuse to go on dating sites. Absolute last resort. Broken relationships can really shatter one's self-worth, especially when abuse is involved. Being betrayed, heartbroken and cheated on can do it too.
Most people would put in 2 Corinthians 6:14 into the mix: Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness (NASB)
I am not entirely sure how this verse applies, but it appears to be kind of an oxymoron. Matthew 28 calls us to make disciples, but we must go to the world, the unbelievers and create relationships with them in order to evangelize. Right?
Tragedies: See circumstances, crap happens. Some bad and God is questioned. My heart breaks when I hear that countless children die without clean water or that slavery and the sex trade is still practiced. Even in Canada and the US ( you want proof of slavery, take a look at the porn industry and this lady's powerful testimony: but I always go back to: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24.
Still, STILL today: my favorite hymn is "Great is Thy Faithfulness".
That doesnt mean I don't feel the pain of everything involved. We are human, we cry, we laugh. Some CHristians really creep me out when they have those (crap) eating grins on their faces all of the time. I look to the other side of the church and see people facedown, crying or if your charismatic: dancing and other things.
Casting Crowns has a song called "Stained Glass Masquerade" basically saying that: "If I hide my true feelings, smile and nod so nobody will talk to me". How will you fix self-worth issues if you hold them in? You can't!! Go go a friend, pastor, councilor or family member, you won't regret it. You may feel like garbage but God does not create garbage. Be loved and be encouraged!
I'll leave you with a couple verses that help me out and hope can help you.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5|:17
For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:18
I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me- Philippians 4:13 (my fav verse)