‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Genesis 1:27)
How many of us truly believe that we are made in the image of God? How many of us really accept that we are part of God’s beautiful creation, that He is pleased with what he has made in us? When we consider ourselves as individuals, do we, in reality, feel that God looks upon us with pleasure?
For a long time, although I believed in my head that I was made in the image of God, I struggled to really accept it in my heart. I could only really take it on board as a generic statement – that human beings generally are made in the image of God, and that as a race we have the potential to be all that God created us to be. When it came to me personally, that was a very different story. I couldn’t see the potential that God had placed within me, and I certainly didn’t view myself as a beautiful part of God’s creation.
For many years I struggled to form real relationships of any depth, as I didn’t think that anyone would consider me worth being friends with. I felt unlovable and unloved. I was unable to accept myself for who I was, and because of this I couldn’t allow other people to accept me either. So I pushed people away, but I didn’t realise what I was doing.
It was like living in a vicious circle. In an attempt to save myself the pain of being rejected by people once they discovered who I really was, I kept them at a distance to make sure they never got close enough to find out. This meant I felt isolated and alone, which in turn reinforced my belief that I was unlovable. My self-esteem and self-confidence were at rock bottom.
And it seems that I was not alone. Research suggests that 78% of teachers think that girls suffer low self-esteem, and 51% think boys have low confidence in their body image. What impact is this likely to have in the future? Based on research among women, the Future Foundation has predicted that Britain could lose around 320,000 businesswomen, lawyers and doctors, as well as more than 60 female MPs, by the year 2050, unless young women can be helped to retain confidence in their own abilities.
Many people struggle with poor self-image, low self-esteem and low self-confidence. There is tremendous pressure on us to act, dress and behave in certain ways, and if we don’t fit the mould, we feel like a failure. We find ourselves trying to conform to what we think our peers want us to be, to what magazines, television programmes, social media and billboards tell us we should look like, how we should dress, how we should do our hair, what we should do, even how we should speak.
But beauty is not about what we look like, and being acceptable is not about our appearance. The person who matters, the seat of our true beauty, lies in who we are inside. ‘People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). As people, we need to hear these words and be affirmed for who we are. From there, confidence will grow.
Fortunately, my story was one of confidence reborn. By the grace of God and through the patience of a number of people I am now blessed to be able to call close friends, I began to break this dreadful cycle and build meaningful relationships. It has been a long process; indeed, it’s an ongoing one, but I can now honestly say that I am comfortable with who I am. I enjoy being me!
I felt called to write about my journey in the hope that my story would encourage and inspire other people who are struggling with the issues I wrestled with for far too many years. I hope and pray that it will enable many other people to realise that they, too, can be freed from the trap of low self-esteem and to begin to believe in themselves and in what God says about them.
Remember – Genesis 1:31 tells us that ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ That means me, and it means you! God saw you when he made you, and you are very good! He is very pleased with what He has made! Can you dare to believe him?
Less than ordinary? is available in paperback or on Kindle at http://tinyurl.com/br5yntf.