God created us to love. Our true natural selves were created pure, holy, with a deep desire to give of ourselves. We were created humble, desiring to put others first. We were created to be compassionate and kind, empathetic and merciful. Our true selves are honest, patient, courageous, with a respect for others. We were created to love God, who is the source of light, life and love. Deep down inside, we know we were made to love. We know this because when we experience genuine love for others, our whole beings are lifted up. Our hearts are filled. We experience joy! We know that we know it is right! Somewhere deep inside of ourselves, we know that we were meant to love. When someone loves us in return, we experience a fulfillment that transcends our ordinary existence. We feel complete. This is what God intended for us to experience every moment of our lives.
However, God also gave us the gift of free will. We are the masters of our own destinies. What happens when we choose to act contrary to our true nature? Yes, that’s right. Our conscience kicks in. Because God loves us so much, He does not want us to experience pain and suffering, so He gave us a conscience to act as a warning when we contemplate actions that may cause us grief, sorrow and regret. What happens when we act on a temptation? What happens when we sin? Yep! Our conscience causes us pain and suffering, but not as much pain as the consequences of our sinful actions may cause us.
Have you ever told a little lie, one that wouldn’t hurt anyone but benefitted you in some way? Maybe it was to cover up for something you did, which you knew was wrong. What happens? We end up compounding that little lie with a multitude of other lies just to cover up the first lie. Often, the lies spiral out of control. If our lie is uncovered, we become embarrassed or ashamed. We lose credibility. Others do not trust us. Have you ever become so angry that you said things you regretted? Have you ever done something to please yourself at the expense of another? We have all experienced the consequences of sin. More serious sins have more profound consequences that may cause us greater pain and suffering.
What happens when we continue to act in opposition to our true nature, contrary to our true selves? We lose ourselves. First, we experience the initial pangs of conscience. If we disregard these warnings, we experience regret, shame and guilt. If we ignore these responses, we may convince ourselves that our actions were justified. Our thinking becomes impaired and begins to deceive us. We dull the warning signals. Our conscience, God, is silenced. We slip farther and farther away from our true nature. We forget how to love God and love others. We lose the joy in life. Our peace is disturbed by conflicting desires, which do not fulfill us, do not make us complete. Eventually, we lose self-respect because deep down inside, we know that we know we are acting against our true nature. We suffer from the consequences of actions that are not in sync with our true selves.
Our society is obsessed with building up self-esteem. We embark on new diets and exercise programs. We set goals for ourselves and busy ourselves in trying to accomplish them. We fill our calendars with things to do, and we take pride in achieving our goals. We seek the approval of others and are disappointed when others do not acknowledge our endeavors. If we cannot keep up with our to-do list, we become stressed. Slowly, we lose momentum, and our self-esteem erodes once again. Self-esteem is not nurtured by our accomplishments, but rather by the condition of our hearts. If our hearts are open, generous, and loving, we are at peace with ourselves.
Remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross reminds us how much He loves us. Knowing how much God loves us strengthens our love for Him. When we love God, He fills us with His love in return. He fills us with Himself, the Holy Spirit, the source of love. When our hearts are filled with His love, we return to our natural selves, our true selves. We are no longer focused on our to-do list. We stop and live in the moment. We notice those around us, who God has placed in our lives, those who support and encourage us, as well as those who need our encouragement. Rather than focusing on our accomplishments, we concentrate on our relationships, our relationship with God, as well as with others. Building our relationship with Christ and with those God has place in our lives builds our self-esteem. Discovering the gifts God has bestowed upon us to share with others builds our self-esteem. Developing compassion and kindness, generosity and love brings us closer to our true selves.
According to King David in Psalms 139:14, each of us was uniquely, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In this context, “fearfully” means “awesomely” made. In other words, we should be in awe or amazement because “it was you (God) who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…intricately woven…In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed” (Psalms 139:14-16). To Jeremiah, God said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). God takes great care in creating each of us, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit, we are able to discover our true selves. The Holy Spirit will reveal to us our extraordinary gifts, our purpose in life, and He will guide our path. When we embrace our true selves, when we share our gifts and live out our purpose in life, we will experience joy and peace. In Christ, we are complete. Our self-esteem is not determined by how others see us. Our self-image is rooted in Christ, and only He can reveal to us our true nature, our true selves.