Self-esteem Is a Fragile Thing

Self-esteem is a fragile thing. Let’s talk about it.

What is esteem? I consulted two friends (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and my computer Thesaurus) for synonyms, intending to discuss my struggle with low self-esteem, explain how I overcame it, and give a how-to package with a pretty bow on top.

But my victory in this area is fairly recent, and scanning a multitude of notes recorded over many years reminded me of great anguish and heartbreak from living most of my life battling low self-esteem.

Webster defines self-esteem, “confidence and satisfaction in oneself,” and gives a synonym, self-respect, “proper respect for oneself as a human being, regard for one’s own standing or position.” Synonyms for self-esteem include self-worth, sense of worth, self-respect, confidence.

Obviously, low self-esteem means less than the above.

My definition of low self-esteem: feeling I don’t measure up.

Here’s my story.

I was the last-born child in my family—the only girl after four boys—and I grew up cherished and lavished with praise. That should have given me a solid self-esteem.

We lived on a tiny farm just outside the city limits and attended a large church in town. My dad had a small produce business, and we often traveled to church in his rumbling produce truck. Among the church members were a few wealthy, influential people. I didn’t consciously compare myself, but my modest background set me up for feelings of inferiority.

After I finished elementary school, my mother decided I would attend a rather prestigious high school. Many of my classmates came from wealthy homes, and their parents were professional people—doctors, lawyers, successful business owners. I made friends, but overall, I didn’t feel I measured up.

Although my family wasn’t wealthy, we had everything we needed…or wanted. My mom’s greatest delight was making sure I had beautiful clothes and every advantage, including piano lessons.

But this feeling thing continually tripped me. Feeling inferior…feeling I didn’t measure up.

This feeling thing continually tripped me. Feeling inferior…feeling I didn’t measure up. Click To Tweet

That changed when I landed my dream job writing for the local newspaper while attending college. Interviewing celebrities, mingling with the elite of the community, receiving admiration and recognition boosted my esteem. I felt good about myself and confident.

After nine years of basking in the limelight, I left the newspaper for an awesome new position—mom. After nine years of marriage, the Lord sent us a baby girl and nineteen months later, a little boy.

I loved making a nest for my sweet family, but low self-esteem began to cripple me. I’d left a flourishing journalism career—something I did well—for something I felt I wasn’t doing well. I had no baby-sitting experience and knew nothing about parenting. I felt totally inadequate for the most important role of my life.

Have you noticed those italicized words—feel, feeling, felt?

I’ve said this before. The heart feels what the mind is thinking.” My feelings were the result of negative thinking. I don’t measure up.

Taking control of my thoughts eventually placed me in a position for the Lord to do something about my low self-esteem. I learned transforming truth about what he thinks of me.

Taking control of my thoughts eventually placed me in a position for the Lord to do something about my low self-esteem. I learned transforming truth about what he thinks of me. Click To Tweet
  • He knows me by name (Isaiah 43:1).
  • He says I am precious in his sight (Isaiah 43:4).
  • He loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • He delights in me (Psalm 18:19).
  • He has imprinted me on his heart (Psalm 136:23 Amplified).
  • He has engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16).
  • He takes care of sparrows, and he considers me of greater worth than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Next week I’ll continue my story. If you relate to my struggle with low self-esteem, I’d appreciate your leaving a comment. And consider sharing this with your friend-list!

© Dianne Barker 2018 (reprinted)

2 responses to “Self-esteem Is a Fragile Thing”

  1. Dianne,

    First of all, I would like to apologize for not being in touch. My beloved
    Bill passed away a year ago on May 15. He was 87 and developed lung cancer
    after many of years of immunosuppressant drugs to keep his transplanted heart
    from rejecting. We knew from the onset, this would be a possibility.
    Soon, it went to his brain and he passed away soon afterwards. God was merciful
    to take him home.

    Talk about loosing self confidence in myself!! I will write you a letter later,
    I am just not up to it right now. Still fragile , but getting adjusted more and
    more. It just takes time, and it does “come and go.”

    I admire you and your honesty and sometimes, it takes a long time just to believe
    in our hearts that we, as God’s children, just really “get it.” Christ lived as a man
    and in the Garden, probably had all the feelings that we have , yet He was perfect.
    We are not. He asked His father, “Let this cup pass from me, never the less, not
    my will, but thine.” We suffer too , and having the “sin nature” we doubt ourselves,
    but He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. Life, itself brings us to taking little
    “detours” from the pathway God has in store for us. I will write to you later and thank]
    you for this enlightening message.

  2. Nita, thank you so much for taking time to comment. You have been on my heart! I can’t imagine the depth of your loss and the difficulty adjusting to a changed life. Please do stay in touch. And know that I care very much. Love you!

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