Wednesday, August 31, 2011

anxiety and self-worth

I've been struggling with anxiety again. Like how an OCD sufferer might literally pick at a scab until it bleeds, I do so mentally. I create problems when I have none to solve, simply because my brain is so compulsively inclined toward problem-solving.

This most frequently manifests in my close relationships and in my self-esteem. I apply false and worldly rules to genuinely positive situations, mistaking "evil for good and good for evil" and as a result, I become hyper-critical and panic-stricken. It usually doesn't occur to me until after I've driven myself frantic that maybe I'm the one with the problem: I'm rely on philosophies and creeds not centered on Christ. I have chosen mammon over God.

While submerged in these suffocating ideas, I compare myself to others and conclude that 1) I am am a monster -- unworthy of love due to all the ridiculous mistakes I make, or 2) that I am a saint and a martyr, and aren't you puny mortals so lucky I deign to associate with you at all?

It's the two manifestations of the same universal sin: pride.

C. S. Lewis (to paraphrase) says that true humility is when we can appreciate our own excellence the same way we do another's. As Paul puts it, we must "approve things that are excellent". And that's what I'm working on right now.

As I seek genuine excellence -- which is the work of the Lord brought about by each unique individual -- I will be less prideful. I will be able to appreciate myself as simply one of God's creations, with all the subordination and divinity implied therein. Being both subordinate and divine at once helps me to also be consistent; instead of overburdening one idea over the other, I can be both at the same time.

We are all subordinately divine. Whether I am an instrument in the Lord's hands, or someone else is, we are still just that: instruments, and hence, subordinate. However, we are the Lord's instruments, Heavenly Father's children, and therefore inherently divine. As we recognize these traits in each other, we both forgive and honor one another more naturally. We recognize Christ in our fellow Christians, not just for their resemblance to Him, but also in our need for Him.

And if I do not disguise my resemblance with false guilt, or my need for Him with hypocrisy, He can shine out of me.

That idea allows for a peace that transcends scab-picking and allows the Lord to use my special talent for problem-solving for His ends. Without pride I can return to my work.

Without pride, I realize I am truly worthwhile, because without pride, I am truly His.


  1. I think it's a balancing act, loving others as we do ourselves. I think both of those elements are key, and when we let it get out of balance, we end up sinning in some way. When we love others more than we love ourselves (with a Godly love, not a selfish love), i.e. when we compare ourselves unfavorably to others - then we're out of balance. When we love ourselves more than we love others, i.e. when we compare others unfavorably to ourselves, then we're out of balance as well. I think to truly "recognize excellence," as Lewis says, we need to recognize that excellence equally in ourselves and in others - and also be able with humility to recognize our own flaws and the areas in which we need to improve and repent.

    Boy, I have a ways to go...

  2. I've noticed this theme recycle in your life. Next time it comes up, I want you to think about this clip :)