Thursday, 23 June 2011
There is low self esteem and pride. These are the two dominating feelings that feature on the landscape on everyone’s life in some capacity throughout life. I would argue that in this modern world, more people experience depression and pride as opposed more than happiness, because happiness is steady dialectic between these. Balancing out enough gentleness and brashness, the traversing of the tightrope of life proves a more than ample task.
These are two extremes in which people are put into, it’s a social construct—out of low self-esteem and pride we desperately try to break from these. Unfortunately that is a social construct too. I am convinced there are only two type of images which float around on that site: the one which rue the lost relationship, and those that confirm that you are one of many ruing the lost relationship.
Spending too much time on tumblr leads to depression, as you realise that you are not that special in and of yourself. Yet, spending a short time on tumblr, you realise how many social awkward and reclusive people there are as yourself—leading to pride to have found a small gathering of like-minded people.
In reality, there are many broken people out there from broken families—put them together, and you will find that they are continually trying to find a dialectic between being different and being the same. The consumer culture that we live in--the social construct we live in--dictates that we are buying into something classy above American Eagle when we bring our Hollister muscle shirt to the front counter, but simultaneously, we are buying into a brand--joining in with where the cool clique would choose to shop at. (It is true though that only cool people, i.e. like this author, shop at Hollister though)
The search for a mediator embodies itself within the soul as well, they cannot see anything inside themselves, because they have not been shown they are important. But to break from this, they are encouraged to put their trust in themselves, that they have to complete the journey, that is, life all by their own strength.
For me especially, there are times where I feel in such doubt of myself, and my ability to do things—this gives a bleak outlook of the future. The only escape from this mindset I find is the times where I inflate my ego and feel that all things are simple and easy, that I am above such things. This is ultimately untrue when I receive back my projects and essays that I had convinced were greatly written with the eloquence of Thoreau, but instead I am a mortal man. This leads to a low self-esteem, breaking down at every single turn, in need of great maintenance.
Both positions are ultimately doomed and bankrupt. This is because both are ungodly, which is likely why the world so applauds these attitudes. In life, surely we will fail--the doubtful will surely fall in their cautiousness, and "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 (English Standard Version) these two attitudes are so ungodly and bad because they are on the primary level void of God.
In God there is another alternative to these two: trusting in Christ.
I think where seeker-sensitive Christianity fails the most is where it tries to address the human depravity through human means. If indeed we are dead in our trespasses, then what it misunderstands is that our condition is not of this world and solved through this world’s broken processes. If we continue to try to treat a depressed soul with emotionalism, it is akin to a Band-Aid on a bleeding wound. Robert Schuller in his seminal work, SelfEsteem: The New Reformation, describes the importance of self-esteem:
"Self-esteem is the human hunger for the divine dignity that God intended to be our emotional birthright as children created in His image...Self-esteem is pride in being a human being...since the opposite of good self-esteem is that in a person which caused him to say 'I am unworthy,' self-esteem is the feeling, 'I am worthy.'"
Yet, I would argue that the Christian walk is essentially the feeling of unworthiness—knowing that there is nothing that we have done on our own terms that would bring us any eternal happiness. Knowing this is the only real way to knowing the heavenly esteem that we find in Christ, the self-esteem Schuller is talking about is an earthly self-esteem. It seems petty.
With spiritual eyes we can see though we are bankrupt on this earth, but truly loved by a Holy God who would give up His only Son for the whole world. One curious thing that I notice in John 3:16 is the link between loving and giving—it begins with: For God so loved the world, He gave...” To love is to give, there is a direct link. To love, is to give—even when it hurts us the most. I don’t see God holding back His love from us in the name of his own self-esteem—that it might make him look pitiful to be communing with such wretched creatures as us. I am hoping daily to give myself up, not searching to be defined by the world we live in, but the Kingdom to which I belong to.
The world falls neatly into two categories: the ones who are prideful of themselves, and the ones who value themselves lowly. Jesus breaks these two apart, the self-righteous Pharisees he called unrighteous, and the sinners he forgave. Only through breaking through the constructs of society can we understand the simple happiness of knowing Christ.
What category do you fall under? Do you often feel that churches miss the mark when they are trying to comfort souls upon this earth?