Seeing Beyond Low Self-Esteem

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible has examples of people God has utilized to fulfill His plans in spite of perceived shortcomings. When God looks for people to partner with Him, it does not matter whether the person is too old like Abraham or Sarah, too young like Timothy, has a thorn in his side like Paul, is an adulterer like King David, or a widower in a foreign land like Ruth. God sees the potential for greatness in everybody and uses them even though they may have faults or weaknesses.

When it came time to break the chains of slavery and usher the Israelites out of Egypt and into the land flowing with milk and honey, God needed a specific leader. God knew right where to find His vessel He would need to set His people free. God looked to Moses who had recently run away from Egypt to Midian. There we find him tending sheep when he got the call from God within the burning bush. However, when God called Moses, he didn’t automatically jump at the chance to fulfill this calling to become God’s spokesperson.

Just like every other person in the history of the planet, Moses had his character flaws. He seemed to have an issue with low self-esteem. Thinking about what his new responsibility entailed, Moses had a flood of memories from the past fill his mind. He was born to a Hebrew family during a time when Hebrew boys were being thrown into the Nile (Exodus 1:22); he killed an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand (Exodus 2:12); the murder was then discovered by his people (Exodus 2:14); Pharaoh tried to kill him (Exodus 2:15); he ran away from his home and family (Exodus 2:15). With each memory relived, Moses’s belief that he could carry out God’s plan diminished.

After the trip down memory lane, Moses asked God, “Who am I…?” (Exodus 3:11). Moses knew there must be a better man for the job. He was not the spokesperson type; Moses was certain that God should choose someone with fewer failures than himself. God’s representative should not be a murderer, a liar or someone who runs away when the going gets tough.

But that is not how Moses’ story went. God did not take a trip down memory lane with Moses and his failures. Instead, God said, “I will be with you….” (Exodus 3:12). When God saw Moses, He knew there were human flaws. He saw into Moses’s past and future. God wanted to use Moses anyway. God knew that Moses could not lead the Israelites out of Egypt without His help. God could have done the entire miraculous event on His own. However, He chose to work through and with Moses, imperfect as he is.

With five simple words, “I will be with you”, the focus shifted from Moses and his shortcomings to God and what He can bring to the situation. That is how God operates. He is well aware that He is working with the dust of the earth. As creation toils alongside its Creator, figuring in the God-factor, the unbelievable occurs.

Battling with low self-esteem all my life, recently, I learned that it is a hallmark of adult children of alcoholics. This has caused me to miss out on many opportunities. Often times I thought I wasn’t good enough – someone else was better, prettier, smarter, faster, skinnier, tanner, and more popular than me.

On countless occasions, I have felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to break out of the bondage of low self-esteem. However, the shackles of this false sense of self-image have caused me to shy away from His calling. Like Moses, I would take trips down memory lane reliving a past that reminded me of all my failures. I was born into an alcoholic home; I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder; I have failed professionally; and I have a life littered with sin. The failures inevitably kept me from fulfilling God’s purposes for my life.

I realize that God knows my past and my future. He has every hair on my head counted. He also saw me knitted together in my mother’s womb. Even after knowing all my faults and weaknesses, He still accepts me and chooses to work through me and with me. He calls me to work with Him because He wants me.

When God calls me to a task, He always says, “I will be with you”. God knows that I need His power to be able to accomplish His tasks. Without His help, I am unable to do anything on my own. If I do not have His help, the focus falls back on me and my shortcomings. Then the vicious cycle starts all over and I am taking the trip down memory lane again.

I like to turn to Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (NAS) This verse always helps me when I am afraid. It gently reminds me that God is near to me and will be there to help me. What better picture to erase the fear than that of the God of the universe taking your hand and saying “Do not be afraid”? It helps me every time.

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