As Christian women I believe we have a problem.
We are afraid.
We worry more about being self-centered than we do about being God-centered. We spend more time distancing ourselves from the appearance of selfishness leaving us less time for true selflessness. We’re so concerned that we not self-indulge, that we restrict ourselves to the point of resentment, and then don’t know where to turn.
And then there’s our self-image. Are we to hate ourselves or love ourselves? Are we miserable sinners or glorious saints? Can we be proud of ourselves or should we be oblivious or even dismissive to who we are or what we need?
I know that there are those who struggle with narcissism and arrogance, who demand attention and a focus on themselves, but as a coach to Christian women, more often than not, I talk to wonderful people who’ve lost their confidence. In their brave and vulnerable moments, they tell me that they feel like they’re not enough or they are too much. They don’t feel like they are doing what they were designed to do, but they don’t know what that is. They feel guilty if they advocate for themselves or take care of their own needs.
They feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. They want to obey God and deny themselves. They don’t want to driven by selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3) or think more highly of themselves than they should (Romans 12:3), but they are confused and don’t know how to move forward. They fear if they take the time to know and care for themselves, and maybe even like themselves, that they will be selfish.
In the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25: 14-30)Jesus tells the story of three servants who’ve been entrusted with God’s property. The first two, who knew their talents and how to use them, put them to work and earned a profit on the master’s return. They received high praise from God. But the third servant, motivated by fear, who didn’t know who he was or what to do, dug a hole and hid the master’s talents.
We as women do the same exact thing when we ignore ourselves and allow our talents to remain buried.
God doesn’t want us to ignore ourselves or live in the dark about the gifts and strengths He’s entrusted to us. He doesn’t want us to wear ourselves thin trying to be what others need us to be but neglecting what He wants us to be. God wants us to steward what He’s provided.
I think it all boils down to this: to love ourselves (to appreciate who we are, to see value in our being, and to care for our human needs) is to agree with God. God loves us and cares for us, so when we love ourselves and who He’s made us to be, we see ourselves as He does. We see what He’s given to us so we can use those qualities to serve others well. We stand tall knowing that we have been designed with dignity and purpose and that we are loved.
Self-love is the act of aligning our hearts with God’s heart toward us.