How is your self-image? Self-image is the way we view ourselves. It’s important because it affects our relationships with others, and even impacts our relationship with God. It determines, in significant ways, the course of our lives.
Two dangerous extremes exist when it comes to self-image. The first is an over-inflated ego — what we commonly call pride. The pride-filled person expects the world to revolve around their needs and wants. They tend to be overly-demanding, self-focused, stingy, and easily-irritated by the “lesser” creatures around them. Their unspoken motto and mindset is “It’s all about me!” They go through life with a kind of swagger in their style and arrogance in their spirit. You feel the “air” when you’re around them.
But pride usually afflicts people in more subtle ways. Pride can lure folks into fanciful thinking about themselves and their abilities. It can cause a person to be deceived by unrealistic desires, dreams and expectations. It can blind people to the reality of their failures, weaknesses, and needed areas of growth. It can fuel a lot of unhealthy thinking and habit patterns. It can lead to unwise choices and decisions.
The other dangerous trap of self-image is a haunting sense of inferiority. Many folks live under an internal taskmaster’s whip of negative thinking, self-hatred and shame. They trudge through life with very little confidence. Fear and insecurity rob them of peace and productivity. While they may work hard to perform perfectly, and actually present themselves to others in a secure and confident way, underneath it all they’re plagued with anxiety, expecting the inevitable exposure of their inabilities and incompetence.
How do we avoid the dangerous traps of self-image? Deliverance from pride and healing from inferiority both come from a right relationship with God. These happen when we get to know more of who He is, and who we are in Him, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the heart-focused study of His Word.
A healthy self-image also requires a willingness, with God’s help, to honestly assess ourselves — to allow God to give us a reality check on our gifts, strengths, character and capacities. It involves inviting the Lord to show us needed areas of growth in all parts of our lives. It comes as we open our lives to God’s loving affirmations, as well as His loving discipline. The Lord wants to paint a realistic portrait in our hearts of His perception of us. His perception brings us security and confidence, while tenderly challenging us with needed changes in our thinking, attitudes and actions.
A healthy self-image happens when we realize that God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are!