Why Self-Esteem Isn’t the Answer

An eating disorder is a pride problem.

What? We spend hours every day raging over our shortcomings, we haunt mirrors in disgust, we pinch our fat, we write pages and pages of self-deprecating nonsense, we hate to go places for fear of being seen, we can never empty our heads of biting chatterchatterchatter- and that’s a pride problem?

C.S. Lewis wrote: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” So pride isn’t thinking more of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself more. Pride is about who’s on the screen in your head. Who are you watching? Who are you listening to? Who are you thinking about? It doesn’t matter if you hate yourself. If you’re obsessed with yourself – whether your weight, your brain, or your feelings –  the problem is pride.

If pride is the problem, then high self-esteem, for all its positive affirmations and cheery promises, can never solve it. High self-esteem changes how you look on that screen, but it can’t change the channel.

Pride is self-consumption – we’re eating ourselves (remember that line: “it’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you?“). We munch ourselves into nothingness, like Shel Silverstein’s Hungry Mungry, until we’re just teeth snapping on air. We might love ourselves, or we might hate ourselves, but either way we’re going to run out.

We were created to feast on Jesus, to drink His blood and eat His flesh. (If that sounds weird, that’s okay, when Jesus said it scores of followers left him and his disciples berated him for bad marketing).  Trying to live on ourselves instead of Jesus is like trying to live on grass. We just can’t digest it. We’re eating, but we’re starving. Instead, we can nourish ourselves on His word, on His love, on His promises. Our souls respond to Him with fullness and delight, like a marvelous, guilt-free Thanksgiving. We turn from being self-centered to being God-centered, from pride to humility.

Humility, not high self-esteem, is the cure for your eating disorder. Recovery isn’t about feeling great about yourself, or knowing you’re thin and pretty enough, or realizing that you have so much inner beauty that you should stop worrying about the outside – it’s about Jesus. It’s about turning off that screen and following Him out into the sunshine.

How can you get humility? You ask for it. Get on your knees. Confess your pride. And just ask.

Wondering how to quit the self-esteem game? Read this!

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One thought on “Why Self-Esteem Isn’t the Answer

  1. Pingback: 3 Ways to Quit the Self-Esteem Game | Big Fat Juicy

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