“A child accepts the definition of self that is imposed upon him by his caretakers. He has no other way of knowing who he is. Children see their reflection in the eyes of others. The developing child then says, “So that is who I am.”
“The earliest image usually dominates the rest of their lives.”
“When you speak with them, you discover an impenetrable wall of self-imposed limitations. They were defeated by the time they were five years old.”
“I have spoken with thousands of people on the streets, and have discovered that even when one of them becomes “born again” and enjoys the grace of God, the most formidable barrier they must overcome is that self-image by which they have come to define themselves. It drags them down and pulls them back to mediocrity like feet trying to run in stinking mud.”
If as an adult you feel that you are burdened with a negative self-image, blaming your parents or your early environment is just digging the hole deeper. It is acquiescence to your inherited handicap. You are like a liberated slave who won’t leave your place of despised captivity because you were born there and don’t know anything else. You validate your captor’s opinion that you are not fit to self-govern, to succeed, to amount to anything apart from their enslaving oversight. The hurt you feel, the anger, the resentment, excuses, and emotional weakness are just links in a chain around your neck that you keep affixing to your past. You are allowing those in the past to define your present and your future.
I know you would like to get a little sympathy, some appreciation for the hardships you have suffered, or maybe you’d like to hear someone say, “I am sorry; it was my fault that you are not whole.” But as you sit and lick your wounds, the world just passes you by on its way to success and happiness. People are cheerful and talking animatedly. They all have friends and are excited about life, but you are defeated inside—alone. Other people get the breaks, the opportunities, but not you; everything comes hard for you. You fear that what your parents, school teachers, and others have said about you is true: you will never amount to anything. Someone repeatedly slapped you, and long after they are gone you are slapping yourself. Even I have slapped you with, “Your present state is now your fault.” I wouldn’t do this to you if I didn’t have a sure cure. You don’t have to accept definitions of self from the past. Hang in there a little longer; help is a few paragraphs away.
This sounds like a good introduction to a therapist’s session, but I am going to take you in a direction that would make a psychologist cringe and a psychiatrist define me in ways that express criminal intent.
The best the world has to offer is a lot of hype from a therapist or motivational speaker about accepting yourself as you are, with a mantra of, “I am somebody.” Positive thinking will yield limited and temporary results, but will never remove that uncomfortable self-doubt.
I have known people who came to their adult life burdened with a poor self-image, who actually became quite successful, motivated by a desire to redefine themselves in the eyes of their parents, teachers, or peers. Yet even in their financial success there remains a sense of inadequacy—always a struggle to prove something, never satisfied when they look in the mirror. They still carry that early definition of self that was imposed upon them. Their marriages are unstable; as a person they never experience true fulfillment, so they blame it on their relationship.
God has a method to cleanse the conscience from former dead works (Hebrews 9:14) and from self-incrimination. It is a sure and certain method that has brought complete healing in the most unlikely people (1 Corinthians 6:11).
The adult who is carrying around a poor definition of self (Romans 7:23, 12:1; Colossians 1:21; Hebrews 8:10) needs radical adjustment. It begins with being born all over again (John 3:2) into a new family with a Father that provides a new and positive definition of self. One must die to the old self and be born a new self (1 Corinthians 15:22). The past must be crucified and buried (Galatians 2:20), and the future must come forth out of resurrection (Romans 6:4). We are talking about becoming a new creature (1 Corinthians 5:17) where old things have passed away and all things are become new. A new Father, a new family, a new history (Colossians 1:13)—a new definition of self; it is God’s gift to his children. I know that to most Christians this is just religious rhetoric with no connection to reality. They view it as just more unattainable goals, and the entire concept weighs them down with unfulfilled responsibility. “I am unworthy of a deep spiritual life; I can’t do what God requires to reach that high plane of faith.”
There is only one thing you must do to live in the “new man” reality. You don’t even need to have faith; just believe what God says apart from your experience. When you believe, God imparts faith.
I well know that you have been taught incorrectly. Most preachers and Bible teachers are totally in the dark on this subject. They give you a path to becoming the new man that is sprinkled with words and phrases like, “die to self, surrender, have faith, trust God, pray, read your Bible, turn it over to the Lord, let him carry your burden, etc.” You are thinking “Do,” when God is offering “Done.” It is not what you can do for God, nor even what God can do in you; victory is a matter of what God has already done for you and TO you. It is not a matter of God creating reality in you but of a reality that already exists. Your part is nothing more than hearing and believing.
God offers you a new definition of self and it is yours to believe.
In this context, in a few words, there is no way I could purge your mind of all the false concepts and declare to you the gospel of sanctification. I have a series called Sin No More which has steered thousands of struggling Christians onto the path of believing God. They have discovered the realities of their new self in Christ, and have been freed from self-doubt and sin.
Truly, this article is not an advertisement to increase our sales. Gifts to this ministry allow us to conduct worldwide evangelism and ministry without selling anything. So, during July and August 2014, you can download Sin No More free of charge at http://ngj.me/snm-download. Or you can order the MP3 CD from us at our cost at http://ngj.me/snm-mp3cd. This is made possible through the gifts of generous saints that want to make a difference. So stop accepting the definition imposed upon you in your youth and let God define you anew.