Last night one of my sisters posted the following picture to my Facebook feed:
I was deeply touched at the inherent complement, but immediately dismissed the idea that it was true. “I’m really not that awesome”, I said to my husband; my brain was already cataloging the many ways I had screwed up during the day.
Somewhere in that weird mix of emotions I felt a shift. A voice in my head whispered, “A lot of people say you are awesome. Why don’t you try seeing what they see instead of brushing it off?” I know what those shifts mean for me. It’s the Holy Spirit dropping grace in my brain, and I know not to ignore it. What I’m going to do, then, is take the next 24 hours and make an honest effort to suffocate that negative voice in my head and look at myself from the perspective of that mug picture.
I don’t expect it to be easy. Low self-esteem is a common human condition. It doesn’t care about gender or socio-economic status. It simply wants to eat our souls. Take a moment and think about it: when you get a compliment, is your first reaction to demur? Do you stop to enjoy accomplishments or are you already looking for ways to make it better, to be better. How much do you let the negative opinion of others influence you? I’ve only just realized that on top of my own rigorous self-criticism I’ve allowed myself to be more influenced by the two people in my life who define me by my faults rather than the dozen who embrace me for my strengths, despite my faults. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is ridiculous. Yet we all do it. Sociological studies abound on the disproportionate affect negativity has on people. It takes five muscles to smile and seventeen to frown. Why in the world are we working so hard to frown? This is one area where our body is biological programmed to favor smiling!
I would love for all of you to join me in taking 24 hours to “adopt the mug”. This is not merely an exercise in boosting self-esteem. I’m not encouraging you to throw criticism to the wind and embrace your inner megalomaniac. God is Good (as in the original good that all other good comes from); by embracing what is good in us we acknowledge that we are made in “the image and likeness” of God. It is also opening yourself to God’s love and grace. God loves us beyond our comprehension. Our brains literally cannot imagine the depth of love that He has for us. That is why our friends and family are so important. Through them God whispers His love. Through them, the Holy Spirit lays grace at our feet. Pick it up, and use it!