By: Frank Wiederrecht
A lot of people don’t like themselves. I know. I used to be one of them. I still struggle from time to time, but not like I used to. My faith is what I attribute to whatever healing I’ve experienced in this area of my life.
The concept of self is an interesting thing. We start to gain a self-concept even in infancy, and then it grows either for good or for ill as we begin school and throughout our lives.
How our parents treat us … how our schoolmates treat us … have a tremendous impact on how we see ourselves. If we have been mistreated by those closest to us, we begin to believe that we deserve to be mistreated. That there is something wrong with us. And so it goes … a lifetime of feeling inadequate.
“The most basic task for one's mental, emotional and social health, which begins in infancy and continues until one dies, is the construction of his/her positive self-esteem.” - McDonald
As a pastor, as a counselor, I see so much destructive and self-destructive behavior rooted in the fact that either people don’t have a sense of identity, or if they do, it is overwhelmingly negative and they don’t know what to do about it.
What we believe about life, God, the universe, and ultimately ourselves determines our aspirations, goals and achievements in life. In other words, if I believe life should be easy, but it isn’t … If I believe the universe should revolve around me, but it doesn’t … If I believe that God is against me because I am so messed up … then I’m going to have issues with life, God, and the people around me.
I see a lot of depression, personality disorders, and general mental health issues … and that causes me to ask the question, “Just what is normal?” As I’m fond of saying, “Everyone is dysfunctional … it’s just a matter of degree as to how much!”
So … as I look at fellow believers – many of them are messed up. Does faith do us any good?
The answer to that is YES! But only the right kind of faith.
What kind of faith doesn’t help?
A faith that is based on dos and don’ts. A faith that is highly doctrinal. A faith that is hypocritical. A faith that is perfectionistic. A faith that emphasizes our failings.
What kind of faith does help? Where do I find a model of spiritual, mental and emotional health? Where do I find out what “normal” is, so I can head that direction?
For me, that is where Jesus comes in. I have faith in the person, and personality of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Where many of his followers fall short, He shows us what true, perfect, humanity is to look like.
You see, I was created to become like Christ.
Each and every one you will ever meet in this life are flawed and broken somewhere, somehow. But Jesus restored true humanity to humankind. He is the model that we all are striving for. He is the “normal” by which I should measure myself. His attitudes and values are the ones I am to internalize.
Once I figure out who I am in Christ, and who I am to become in Christ … then I am headed the right direction in my self-concept and in mental, emotional, and spiritual health in general.