Saturday, October 31, 2015

What I learned in October -- It's about hope.

I had an epiphany the other day. 

Here it is:

It isn't about self-esteem.  It's about hope.

People get all fixated on self-esteem.  "We have to improve our self-esteem!" they cry out.  "We have to teach ourselves how to feel good about ourselves!"

Sometimes there are good and true reasons why people don't feel good about themselves.  Sometimes people have done bad things that they ought to be ashamed of, and sorry for.  Sometimes people have made poor choices that resulted in unpleasant consequences and landed them in unfortunate situations.  Sometimes people feel guilty because they should feel guilty, because they have done wrong.

When people feel guilty because they have done wrong, they don't need self-esteem.  They need repentance and forgiveness.

Focusing on self-esteem is not going to fix this sort of problem.

If you take a person who has made a series of terrible choices and ended up in a miserable position, and you say, "Don't worry!  You are a good person!  Believe in yourself!  Be proud!" -- well, you aren't likely to get anywhere, because you are merely trying to sell a delusion.  Even if the person buys the delusion--which he might--it won't help him, because it is a delusion.

People don't need self-esteem, because self-esteem is about personal pride, and personal pride is never a good thing.  (The world does not need more pride.  The world needs more humility.)

People need hope.  People need to be able to hope that they can change, that they can be forgiven, that they can learn, grow and do better next time.  People need to be able to hope that there is redemption available, even for them.

People need hope, and the best, the truest hope comes from God.  God will always love you, always forgive you and always welcome you back with open arms.  God will put His Spirit into you and change you from the inside out.  God will purify you from your past and make you into a new person.  God will make beautiful Spirit-fruit flow from your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  God will give you a purpose to fulfill, and He will equip you to fulfill it.

This is hope.  This is what people need.  They need to hear, "There is hope for you, no matter how badly you have messed things up.  Jesus died so that you can be forgiven.  He loves you and He wants to heal you from your past.  He can create beauty from the ashes of your life.  Hope in Jesus, and you will not be disappointed!"

We need to stop looking at ourselves, trying to puff ourselves up with self-esteem.

We need to look to Jesus and hope, for He is the Savior of the world, the God of love who gave His own perfect life to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity, so humanity could one day dwell forever in Paradise with Him.

Hope in Jesus is a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls.

This is what we need.

This is what it's about.



Barbara said...

I was drawn to your post by its title. Sometimes just the hope I will do better a better job at being my best self tomorrow ... helps get me through whatever disappointments I feel in myself today. Sometimes, the disappointment is justified. Others, not so much. But there's always hope. Always. Thanks for sharing.

Ruthie said...

Thank you Barbara.

I noticed that you brought up the fact that sometimes our disappointment in ourselves is justified, and sometimes not so much. This is something that niggled at me as I debated whether to publish this post.

I realize that sometimes we carry false guilt, and blame ourselves for things when we are not at fault. But even so, in every situation, hope offers us so much more than "self-esteem" ever could. Shifting blame to make a problem someone else's fault doesn't empower us to fix the problem.

The key is, I think, to stop trying to assign blame to anyone, and just take each problem to the Lord, who can offer a true solution. Assigning blame never fixed anything, but hope--which leads to forgiveness, restoration and growth--fixes everything.