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.

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

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.

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?

In last week’s post I said, “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.

Taking control of my thoughts eventually placed me in a position for the Lord to do something about my low self-esteem. Click To Tweet

I learned transforming truth about what he thinks of me.

  • 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



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

  1. Dianne, this is a powerful post. I loved hearing more about your story growing up and about your family. This resonated with me, “I felt totally inadequate for the most important role of my life.” (Mother) We tend to play up what society claims are the best roles in life, those that tie our identity to fame and praise from others, those that help us “feel” like we “do” measure up. If we grasp the transforming truths you list, it transforms our perspective. And we find security and identity in Christ and the roles He says are the most important in life. Roles like wife, mom, friend, and making Jesus known. No, they aren’t glamorous, but they are honorable and praiseworthy in God’s kingdom. I shared this on my Facebook writer’s page. Looking forward to next week’s post.

  2. Thanks, Karen! You are such an encourager! And I know you well enough to know the Lord has brought you through some of the same struggles. Our enemy constantly tries to pull us down by attacking our self-worth, and we so easily fall for it, believing his lies. As we find our identity in Christ, we learn to guard our thoughts and limit the enemy’s access to our lives. I appreciate your consistent walk. Thanks for sharing the post.

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