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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Feeling Ugly, Unloved, Unworthy and Useless

I know that somewhere there are people who aren't carrying the baggage of their past. They don't care how they look. They make friends who never betray them. These friends unite around each other to encourage each other in whatever they try. These people feel like they can do whatever they need to do and are making a significant contribution to their environment. I am sure that these people exist somewhere but I don't know any of them.

We are not born into this world with a blank slate. We have our genetics, our environment, our heritage, our talents and our physiques. These shape much of what we do and what we become. They tell us how to think about ourselves. It is how our sin nature as well as the glory in which God created us responds. The sin nature is so strong that we tend to believe it before we see God's glory in ourselves.

Thus, each word and action which tears us down and tells us that we are broken is received, internalized and lived over and over again.  We are somewhat obsessive in our desire to for compliments yet never believe one of them. Every night we think we are telling ourselves the truth when we say we are ugly, unloved, unworthy and useless.

Some of us go to churches who preach these destructive thoughts right back to us. This preaching confirms what we already know about ourselves. We love to have a preacher who tells us what great sinners we are. It makes us comfortable because it doesn't challenge what we think we are. It allows us to continue to condemn ourselves and this is something we can really do well.

Of course, this isn't really what we need to hear. We need to hear what God says about us. It is impossible for God to lie. His love is proved toward us because He saw our brokenness and did something about it. He sent Jesus who would tell us how much God loved us. He took from being of the world and made us only in this world for a time. He gave us hope and purpose.

Yet, sometimes we revert back to our old ways of thinking. We let our old memories flood back when we were either condemned by others or felt like we failed and beat ourselves up one more time. We may not be suicidal but we really don't care about life much either.

That is one of the reasons why it is so important to talk to God every day. He didn't send Jesus to condemn the world and He isn't interested in condemning us either. He seeks to redeem us. He wants to buy us back from all of our destructive memories and reveal within us His glory.

Each one of us is precious to God. He takes us gently into His hands and polishes us until we shine. He removes the grit and grime of this world to present us as we really are. We hear His words of love as He tells us we are beautiful and faithful in His purpose if we stay with Him long enough.

I should pray and resolve to let God place His balm upon my wounds and be healed. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Let God return us to this thought again and again. Sometimes the grievous way in us is the one we do to ourselves.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!


Anthony Chia said...

I am NOT very sure what to make of this entry. I will just put in a little of my perspective. There are those who are of the category of those who “every night tell themselves that they are ugly, unloved, unworthy and useless”, but there are also many who are outside of that category. You, Ps Prentis, is in the latter; I am in the latter, and many others, too. I am NOT saying we are perfect or completely satisfied with ourselves when we look inward at ourselves, but we, and that is many of us, are having a reasonable perspective and expectation of ourselves as we grow in our faith. Unless we are holding to either extreme, we are believing we are in the process of being refined from glory to glory, and that includes how we look at ourselves.

What are the 2 extremes? Either extreme first of all, is NOT correct a perspective to take. One extreme is that there are those in the our Christian community who drill into believers that the moment they accepted Jesus into their lives, they have arrived in terms of, both passive (imputed) righteousness and active righteousness (practically, in living), transformation of mind (arguing that people have the fullness of the mind of Christ operating in them), and they are perfect in the eyes of God (arguing that when God looks at you, God only see Jesus, NOT you!)

If you are in such a community, I am NOT surprised you are posturing the same way expected in the world – to hide your imperfection (your struggles in sins, unrighteousness, your lack and inadequacy, your fear, and whatever ugliness of yours). The atmosphere can be pressuring and becomes something like “No one is voicing anything or questioning; people are NOT having issue with this thing, if I say I have issue with it (struggle with it, for example), I am showing up as the only one with “something wrong” in the midst of all who have got it!” Pretence or make belief won’t help us; God’s way is NOT like that; God’s way is always to let to the light (His light) come through, show things up to what they are, and have them dealt with, accordingly.

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT promoting “we hit ourselves” or unduly put ourselves down. There are a couple of guides given in Scripture:

Rom 12:3 (Amplified Bible) - For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me {apostle Paul} I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

Gal 6:3-5 - 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.

2 Cor 13:5-7 - 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I {apostle Paul} trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

1 Tim 4:16 - Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

The other extreme are those who are full of inferiority complex or/and in the bottom of the depression pit. People in this category have their self-image so badly wrecked that they see themselves as filthy, unworthy and useless. In a way, these, even if they are believers, and there are believers like that, they have NOT received in, the understanding that God is NOT unreasonable. Our God is a reasonable God. Does He NOT know our frailty? Of course, He does. Did He NOT let His Son, Jesus Christ, to come as a man, suffered, persecuted and died crucified; and so, does NOT the resurrected Lord, now in Heaven, NOT able to know man’s predicaments and frailty? Of course, the Father God did send Jesus down to us, and the resurrected Lord is able to understand us, men. And so, too, God is reasonable in His love to us; meaning He does NOT expect you to accomplish what you are unable to accomplish without His help, by yourself. But He does expect you to believe in Him, have faith in Him, and ask, and accordingly work with Him, and with those whom He sends to help you. We cannot close ourselves up (visa-vis God and other people); if we do that, we ourselves are hampering the refining work of God on us, to transform us, from being filthy, unworthy and useless, to increasingly wholesome person.

I do understand that people with poor self-image and in depression struggle with “harsh” words from the Word, and they do need to hear more grace messages (the love, grace and mercy of God) of the Word, yet as these become increasingly able to climb the upward stairs out of their poor self-image and depression pit, they got to be fed with more and more solid food (or the “harsh” words). If we do NOT do that, but instead, keep letting them feed on the overly grace or hyper grace diet, they are NOT going to be made truly strong enough to live the abundant life that awaits them; worse still, they can easily be ensnared by the ways of the world or evil, and end up with the scenario of “jumping from one fire-pan to another!”

Of course, we are NOT able to see perfectly of ourselves, in our self-contemplation and inspection, for indeed the situation is as this verse says (1 Cor 13:12) – “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Then there is this, too - Jer 17:9 – “The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Yet, it does NOT mean we do NOT and cannot self-examine ourselves. When we do NOT numb our conscience, but rather work with the Holy Spirit, desiring a heart of flesh, all the time, we can continue to grow as God sanctifies us in our journey here on earth. Our life here is a journey to somewhere; it is NOT meant to end with our death. We are being prepared by God, and you have to work with Him, to go to our eternal dwelling place, Heaven, to live with God, eternally. It is God’s plan, NOT your plan or my plan; if it is we are master, and the plan is ours, we, to bring ourselves to Heaven, we will fail. We thank God that it is His plan, and all we need to do is to work with Him, following Him, trusting Him and depending on Him, knowing He is the Almighty God, who is able and is in control, and does NOT change.

It may take time before we get there, but we have to believe John 10:10b, that Jesus has come that we may have life, and life abundant. Rom 8:32 (Amplified Bible) - He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? Believe it, you can get more beautiful, if you work with Him.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions