Episode 1. Distorted Mirror Syndrome
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One of the most important, the most profound, the most fundamental influences on our lives is how we see ourselves. And let me say, how we see ourselves, isn’t always that healthy. So … what sort …
One of the most important, the most profound, the most fundamental influences on our lives is how we see ourselves. And let me say, how we see ourselves, isn’t always that healthy. So … what sort of an impact is that having on your life?
On a pretty regular basis in the various series and programs that I share with you here on A Different Perspective I touch on things like self-image, low self-esteem, giftings and abilities, that sort of thing. There’s a reason that I keep coming back to that genre of discussion if you will and that reason is this.
I see so many people in this world who are walking around with a distorted view of who they are and those distortions fed to them largely by the people and the systems and the economy that surrounds them, are ruining their lives. So I was thinking and praying about what we could talk about starting this week, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a whole series on self-image and so I’ve called it So … How’s Your Self Image Looking because the aim, I guess, is to challenge you about how you see yourself.
If you’ve ever read Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People you may remember that one of the things he starts off with is how we see the world. He describes it something like this;
It’s like we each have a different set of glasses on our face. Maybe yours has a pink tint and mine have a yellow tint and the next person’s has a green tint. And what we see and how we see it depends entirely on those lenses through which we’re looking at the world. Most commonly people say that “seeing is believing” but actually no, argues Covey, “believing is seeing”. What you believe profoundly influences what you see.
A few weeks ago on the program I shared the example of the difference between someone who is secure in themselves and someone who is insecure. Let’s say you’re insecure, a person comes up to you and shares a constructive well-meaning piece of criticism with you, none of us likes criticism but an insecure person is going to react terribly to that. They might get angry, they might be hurt, they might withdraw further into their shell, they might start bad mouthing the person who criticised them.
They’re all the sorts of reactions that an insecure kind of person would have. A secure person on the other hand might initially be annoyed by the criticism but fairly quickly starts thinking about it and assessing it as objectively as they can. And if the criticism has some basis to it they start to do some things to change, to learn from what they’ve just heard to get better at this thing that maybe they’ve botched up last time round.
Do you see how believing is seeing, how the lenses through which we perceive the world profoundly impacts what we see and what we feel and how we react. And let me ask you, in this one small example of handling criticism which person ends up being better off for the experience? The secure one or the insecure one, it’s pretty obvious right?
That’s why I said at the beginning of the program that how we see ourselves is one of the most important, the most profound, the most fundamental influences on our lives and it’s an influence either for good or for bad, for liberation or for bondage, for building an amazing future or for living a rotten life.
That’s not hyperbole; I’m not overstating the case here at all. I used to have a terrible self-image of myself and let me tell you it was truly a rotten life. When I was young and that’s always where it starts, let me tell you, I was short and dumpy and not very good at running and not very good at sports, and in a sports mad nation like Australia that simply wasn’t a good thing.
The other boys used to make fun of me and even when I went and became an officer in the Australian army, a four-year degree course, I was almost kicked out in my final year of officer training for failing the cross-country by just twelve seconds. Other people looked down at me. Forget the fact that I had other talents and abilities, my peers considered me to be something less than they were, in fact considerably less.
Now I caught up with some of these guys recently from the Royal Military College Duntroon, my classmates, it had been thirty-four years since I’d seen most of them. We were all young men back then when we were training to be officers. Anyway we had a great night together eating and drinking and reminiscing and laughing and you know none of them seem to remember anymore that I was the guy that couldn’t run as fast as them, they’d all moved on.
But can you see how these hurts from the past can live on in you and distort your self-image? So many people are carrying around the reproach of the past with them and they wonder why they’re not having such a great life. The Bible talks about the reproach of the past and God is super keen to remove it from us because while we’re still carrying it around with us we simply can’t live the life that He has planned for us. Have a listen to this, Joshua chapter 5, verse 9:
“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So that place has been called Gilgal unto this day.”
That was said to Joshua, the new leader of Israel after Israel had been slaves for several centuries in Egypt. Now they were about to cross over into the land that God had promised to Abraham many, many centuries before, so why did God say this thing about rolling back the reproach from the past, why did God do that?
Because God knew they wouldn’t be able to take hold of the Promised Land battle by battle if they were still living in their heads as slaves from Egypt. These people had to see themselves as God’s chosen people not lowly slaves in order to fight the battles they would need to fight to take hold of all the blessings of the Promised Land. So God lifted the reproach of Egypt – that sense of looking back on the past and deciding they weren’t good enough – He lifted that off them so that they could enter and take and enjoy the Promised Land.
Well let me tell you this, God wants to lift the reproach of your past off you too so that you can enter the promises He has for your life, so that you can fight the battles He has for you to fight and so that you can enjoy the blessings He has for you to enjoy.
I know what some people are thinking right now. Yeah, my life has failure written all over it, that can never happen to me, I’m always going to be fat and ugly, I’m always going to be not good enough, I’ll never be free from my insecurities. Well, that’s simply not what God has to say about you so let’s start listening to what God actually does have to say about you. Here it is, Isaiah chapter 54, verses 4 and 5:
“Do not fear for you will not be ashamed, do not be discouraged for you will not suffer disgrace for you will forget the shame of your youth and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer and the God of the whole earth he is called.”
Maybe you do have failure written all over your life. You’ve divorced maybe once, maybe more than once; you don’t look the way you want to look; you haven’t achieved what you wanted to achieve; you aren’t perceived the way you want to be perceived; people don’t acknowledge you and praise you the way you want to be acknowledged and praised.
So you look at your crummy little life in your crummy little neck of the woods and you think to yourself, “Blah, there’s nothing anybody can do with me, I’m done”. Well here’s what I want to leave with you today, God is not done with you. So long as you have breath God is not done with you. He won’t be done with you until you’re dead and then, if you believe in Jesus, you’ll enjoy an eternal blessing.
And that’s what this series is all about. It’s called So … How’s Your Self Esteem Looking? We’re going to discover together from God’s Word how to be free from the reproach of the past so that you can enter into and live in the life that God has promised for you.