Hello everyone, I’m back – if not only for a short time – to discuss something that has been bothering me for the last month or two and with a small discovery I hope will be helpful to others still dealing with the traumatic reprogramming necessary to leave the church you once loved.
It has come to my attention recently that I am an extremely self-deprecating person. When people compliment me, I find it difficult to just casually accept their compliment without either having a completely inflated ego as if starving for attention or wanting to dismiss their genuinely kind words as unnecessary flattery. In other words, I don’t really like to think about myself except in a negative light and as a result of the lack of confidence I tend to rebound the other direction on occasion in full-on arrogance.
Now, I’m sure a decent number of people struggle with this and perhaps you are one of them. What I’ve realized recently is that the Christianity I grew up with almost encouraged this type of thinking. And here is how:
As a Christian, we were supposed to be humble. Part of humility is acknowledging your mistakes. But it is not just enough to acknowledge your mistakes and fix them, we were constantly reminded that we could not fix our mistakes. Over and over and over it was ingrained into our minds that our own efforts were futile – we must rely on the Lord.
As a result, all success is to be attributed to the Lord and all failures are to be attributed to our self. As you can imagine, this does not do much for self-esteem. And a person who has low self-esteem is most likely to cover it up with full-blown arrogance. The only personal success is to attribute all success to God (Proverbs 3:5-6 anyone?).
Now, when I left the church at first I was ecstatic about the opportunity to start “clean”: the world was my oyster and I was full of confidence. And it worked. I got a job I wanted, a girl I wanted, new friends I wanted, a blog I wanted, and more. But as time has gone on, little mistakes have begun to pile up and are beginning to get to me and it had begun to put me into a slightly depressed and angry funk. For an example, see my recent blog posts. Not pretty.
Basically, I can’t stop thinking about my failures and insufficiencies. But why?
So I decided at the advice of some friends to begin writing down all my thoughts. Every time I had a thought I would write down “why?” and wait until the answer came to me. In the process I discovered that I was retaining half of my Christian mentality – the part that says I’m a loser and failure. And, as any person can imagine, that will lead to depression.
But then I thought about it, and ‘lo-and-behold’ (got to throw in some sort of prophetic Christianese banter) I discovered that that is exactly the attitude Christians wanted me to have. The more self-deprecating you are the more you can give glory to Jesus and fall into his arms. Remember Jesus’ words? A man who has sinned much will love much, so the more you think of yourself as awful and unworthy the greater a lover of Jesus you will be.
There’s only one problem: there is no Jesus there, so if I am not careful a person with my mentality can fall into a complete epistemic and self-deprecating funk.
So, now that I’ve made this discovery I’m going to begin the process of finding ways to replace my self-deprecating mindset with a more healthy self-esteem.
Have you ever felt this way? Do you still feel this way? If so, I hope what I’ve written can be of help… and feel free to chip in and give others some advice on ways to develop a healthy self-esteem not based on the ridiculously self-deprecating mentality that leads to arrogance that is found in the beloved – and hated – doctrine of the human incapacity for anything but sin.
Cheers all 🙂
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