The Self-Esteem Trap

Jodie StevensIn her book Give Yourself a Break Kim Fredrickson describes self-esteem as: assessing ourselves in a positive way often in comparison to others… “I only feel good if I’m special or better than someone else.”

When our worth as a person comes from the ‘outside in’ it can lead to all kinds of emotional problems like depression, self-pity, and free floating anxiety because we simply can’t control everybody’s opinion of (or reaction to) us. Attempting to constantly ‘earn’ their approval can eventually lead us to lose our own identity in the process.

The way out of this trap is to practice humility as well as self-compassion which Kim conveys as: a balance of truth (yes I made a mistake) with grace (I have worth and value, and I will address this mistake directly).

Christian counselor Stephen Arterburn characterizes humility as: …an attitude in which we see ourselves in totality, the good and bad parts… as neither the best nor the worst, just as human… admitting the negative as well as the positive is a sign of authenticity. We become real with God and with ourselves.

Therefore, practicing humility and self-compassion can actually help heal our ‘self-esteem.’

What an amazing paradox.

Jodie Stevens

 

 

The Unmaking

Jodie StevensAfter my brother died I went through a difficult time. Life seemed to lose its meaning and many of the things I’d been holding so tightly began to slip from my grip as I contemplated the usefulness of everything I was striving for.

A friend of mine shared a song by Nichole Nordeman and the chorus seemed to put a melody to my pain:

This is the unmaking
Beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
to find out who you are
Before each beginning
there must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars

Sometimes grief, turmoil, and tragedy bring about moments of clarity that cut through the superficial; we see the true meaning of life and realize that honoring those we love and being in the center of Gods will is all that matters.

It’s only after ‘The Unmaking’ that God can rebuild us. It’s when we’re surrounded by the epiphany of the emptiness of our pursuits that we look up with real honesty and transparency.

And sometimes (just like Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son) God doesn’t plan to take anything from us, He just needs us to have a heart that’s willing to let it go.

Jodie Stevens

Do You Feel Guilty When You Can’t ‘Do It All?’

Jodie StevensSometimes I feel like to many things have been filed under the ‘I’ll get to it someday category; with my abundance of ‘some days’ dwindling and the ‘I’ll get to its’ multiplying.

So many fish to fry in a fire full of irons on a plate that’s too full has me feeling overwhelmed.

Was it God’s plan that I accomplish everything? Did He want me to feel guilty for not responding to every email, tweet, LinkedIn request, Facebook post, or phone call?

Of course not, the unnecessary pressure I put on myself was stealing my joy.

2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I have decided to complete every task I can manage in a day, and do it with joy! Then, let go of the things I can’t, and stop feeling guilty about it.

I don’t think God’s upstairs keeping score. If we seek him, He’ll validate our decisions.

 

Jodie Stevens

Does Humility Require Courage?

Jodie StevensHow often I have cried out: “Lord, please help me!”

All the while knowing the ball in my court was being blocked by pride and fear.

I memorized every curve of the phone the morning I held it 2 hours before mustering up the courage to call and ask for help to quit drinking.

My husband often tells me about the time he fell to his knees on the bathroom floor after seeing his nearly 320 pound self in the mirror, and how heavy the door of the gym felt when he finally opened it.

Today he’s 130 pounds lighter and over 12 years sober and he’ll tell you what caused this amazing transformation: humility and courage.  Rivals pride and fear convince us we can manage the pain by ourselves.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Therefore, if humility is a virtue, (and I believe it is) we need to pray for the courage to ‘humbly’ take the necessary action to be victorious over our struggles and addictions.

 

Jodie Stevens

Why ‘Kindness’ Can Backfire

Jodie Stevens

“What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?”

Every time I filled out one of those evaluations I scored highest on the ‘gift’ of mercy.

For me, this ‘gift’ felt more like a curse.

I would do someone a favor and it would become an expectation. I would come up with a brilliant idea and someone else would take credit for it.

Sometimes I did things I didn’t want to do because it’s what other people wanted. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t and since I’m a Christian, I reasoned, it was my job to help.

Matthew 7:6 says: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jon W. Quinn’s commentary on this passage is brilliant:

“Do not persist in offering what is sacred or of value to those who have no appreciation for it, because your gift will not only become contaminated and be despised, your generous efforts could also be rebuffed and perhaps even openly attacked. Your life, time, energy, opportunities and abilities are God’s pearls…we must show discernment as to what use we make of God’s possessions. It is possible to waste them either by using them when we should not as well as not using them when we should.”

Are you carefully distributing your pearls today?

 

Jodie Stevens

God Loves Losers

Jodie StevensYears ago I was having a discussion with a friend who doesn’t believe in God.

“Why is it,” He said, “that most people who ‘find God’ are either in prison or complete losers?”

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying: “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”

Sometimes the outcasts of society are in fact the closest to God: The homeless, the broken, the drunks, the inmates, the drug addicts…. and yes, even the ‘losers.’

They have been lost, lonely, victimized, abandoned, abused and depraved.

They have been reckless, cruel, violent, careless, selfish and wicked.

And when every ounce of pride has been stripped away, and they have nothing left to show for their lives but pain and destruction; they call out to God, and he saves them.

It’s in our brokenness that we find our greatest hope, in our pain that we find our greatest strength, in our greatest moments of humility that we find repentance, and in our worst depravity that we find God’s forgiveness.

 

Jodie Stevens

Can God Forgive Anyone?

Jodie StevensWhen I was 28 years old I gave my life to Christ. The friend who led me in that prayer did what any good friend would do, he took me to church.

At some point during the message the pastor began talking about how the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy had a spiritual experience and accepted Christ before he was executed. This enraged me. How could God forgive someone like that? If it weren’t for my friend sitting there, I would’ve gotten up and walked out, and I almost did.

Weeks later (after my anger subsided) I realized: “Wow! If God could forgive someone like Ted Bundy, he could certainly forgive someone like me. In fact, he could forgive anyone.”

Billy Graham said: “Christ died to take away all our sins–not just part of them, but all of them: past, present, and future. And that even if our actions are pure, our thoughts often are not. And even if our actions and thoughts are pure, we still sin because of the good things we should be doing but fail to do.”

Salvation does not depend on you and how good you are. It depends solely on what Christ has already done for us through His death on the cross.

Jodie Stevens