The gospel, my self esteem, and the pursuit of a Lisa I will like

Continuing with the theme of old school blog nostalgia, I was thinking this morning about the posts I wrote in the early years about insecurity and its many manifestations (in me). I’d like to think I’ve made oh-so-much progress and am now the paragon of confident assurance.

Not so fast my friend.

Recently I was confronted with the various neuroses that plague me still. Still! I’ve known they were there (the plight of the insecure is to never, not ever, feel, you know, secure) but this time I was seeing them in sharp, painful relief. No fun.

I’ve decided these sorts of neuroses find their origin and indeed their sustenance in me striving after some preconceived expectation. Or, as the case usually is, me failing miserably at some preconceived expectation.

I’ve heard legalism described as seeking God’s approval by the things we do. I see the truth of that definition but for me most of my legalistic efforts–and corresponding insecurity–are borne not of a desire for God’s approval but for my own. I want to like myself; I want to know others like me so I can know I’m likeable so I can like myself. I suppose the extrapolation could be made that I want to approve of myself so I can then (wrongly) consider myself approved by God but, really, God rarely enters the thought process at all, not in my pursuit of a Lisa I will like.

So what do I do when I’m faced with the reality of the mom I am (and am not) and the wife I am (and am not) and the friend I am (and am not) and the blogger I am (and am not) and the Bible teacher I am (and am not) and…? Well, I have to tell you that in these present circumstances, I responded a variety of ways, none of which were pretty. Short version: I pouted. I cried. I rationalized.

I really, really wanted to feel better about myself despite the mounting evidence leading me to conclude otherwise.

What did I need? What do I need? Approving of myself, liking myself, isn’t enough. The standards shift, the expectations change, and I am utterly incapable of living up to either. It is an exhausting, miserable pursuit! What I need is the truth, the truth about myself–the truth that I am indeed a big fat failure as a wife, mom, friend, what have you. And not just any old failure but a failure hopelessly doomed, condemned by my sinful, prideful, self righteous rebellion against a holy God.

I need to be humbled, humiliated, by the gospel.

Harsh, isn’t it? The gospel isn’t good for my self-approval but in it the kindness of the Lord appears. He is kind as He brings conviction that draws me to repentance. Yes, I sin. Indeed I do and daily I am confronted not only by my failure but also my rebellion against God and His ways. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the penalty for this, my sin, is paid. Paid! Not in part but the whole! All of it!

I need not suffer condemnation or insecurity or pick-your-neurosis because God has freely and graciously given me all things in His Son Jesus. All things! He kindly exposes my sin. I cast myself upon His mercy. He forgives. He restores. He pours out grace upon grace.

Years ago I wondered here on the blog how you, the reader, see me. One (anonymous) commenter quickly informed me of my hypocrisy. Though my self esteem suffered a little for it, I could only agree. I am not what I should be nor what I want to be. I am, however, saved, forgiven, and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. I can only boast in Christ. He paid it all. All to Him I owe.


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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger