[Guest Post by Tara Burke] – I struggled with depression during my teenage years — I felt that I had nothing to show for my life; nothing to offer anyone.
While recently at a seminar for performing arts and missions, one seminar attendee asked the question of how to check one’s pride when receiving accolades and attention. This question stirred another one in me–what about when someone’s pride isn’t the issue?
What about when the issue is whether they are any good at all?
While I kept a happy face, I never told anyone how I really felt.
I felt like a failure–a Christian wasn’t supposed to be depressed!
All I saw in church were people with smiling faces.No one else seemed upset or sad which made me feel even worse. We often hear in sermons that we need to be humbled and put others before ourselves.
I had the opposite problem–I was constantly comparing myself to others and believed that I came up short.
I didn’t see my value.
I prayed for God to take away my feelings of unworthiness and insecurity, but months and years went by and I didn’t seem to be getting any better.
Thankfully, I believed in a God who is continually working in the lives of His people.
God placed certain people in my life during my university years to encourage me to embrace my gifts and to entrust me to places of leadership where I could actually understand that I was not useless, but in fact, cherished and respected.
I’ve wondered why God has never taken those feelings of insecurity away completely like I prayed.
But there’s no emotional switch that God just turns on or off.
Without those feelings of anxiety and insecurity, I wouldn’t have run to His arms so many times for comfort.
I would’ve turned around and given myself all of the credit for the change.
I don’t want to offer pat answers to questions of depression or low self esteem.
Do I wish I never had feelings of depression or insecurity? Of course.
But when these feelings show up now, I have the tools to deal with them.
Most of my feelings of depression stemmed from seeing myself as a failure.
I didn’t know what I was good for so I just didn’t do anything. It was a vicious cycle. I’m learning, now in my mid-twenties and in the working world, that God asks us to be active in our world.
Christianity is not a passive thing.
God calls us into action in His word.
Love one another! Make disciples!
These are commands, not suggestions. Once we understand this, we now have a purpose. Now we have the drive to be obedient to His Word. We can have confidence in ourselves because we have the unfailing love of Christ. We don’t deserve it, but we got it anyway.
God’s love should not fill us with shame, but with a gratitude that responds in service.
Nothing we can do will earn us any better status in the eyes of God, but what we do can help us with confidence and can help to counter the lies we tell ourselves. We cannot compare ourselves to anyone else. So when you hear in church again that we must be humble, don’t assume that humility = low self-esteem.
Overcoming low self esteem is simply found in the ultimate example of humility and love–Christ Jesus.
With Christ as our example, we can start to see ourselves as He does. Our self esteem can finally be found safely resting in the arms of the One who’s loved us all along.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 5-11)
Tara Burke recently completed her master’s degree in Communication and Culture, specializing in race representation and performance studies. A writer, singer and blogger, her main aim is to make relevant, progressive works of media and culture that point people to the love of Christ. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada. Follow her on Twitter (@taradotwords) or on Tumblr at taraburke.tumblr.com.
[Photo: agdemesaphoto, Creative Commons]