My daughter Briana is just home from college and I was watching her pick flowers in our garden to give to Kristi for Mother’s Day.

She also made a lovely card with one of Kristi’s favorite Bible verses on it: “Look at [God]; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your true feelings from him.” (Psalm 34:5, MSG)

It was fun to see Kristi’s delighted face as she received this special gift!

As I gave thanks to God for this moment I recalled how in the past Kristi has struggled with her self-esteem as a mom. In Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke she writes about her feelings when our three children were school-aged:

I don’t fit in with the women at the kids’ school or at church. They’re so attractive, intelligent, and generous, It’s no wonder they don’t invite me to things and don’t really want to know me.

I hear about other moms taking their kids to music lessons, soccer, and scouts and I feel bad that I only let our kids be in one activity at a time — that’s all I can manage!

Sometimes she plummeted into self-hatred. She’d cry out to me from her quicksand:

I’ll never be good enough! I need to be better and to do more, especially as a mother, but I’m just weak and lazy. My kids are suffering because I’m not doing enough for them.

And the worst part is that I’ve let God down; I’m disappointing Him! I’m not a good Christian and I’m sure not a good witness for Christ. I’m afraid that I’m burying my talent and God is angry with me.

Just Love Yourself!?

Our typical Christian answer to low self-esteem is something like: “You are special to God so love yourself. He created your personality and gave you gifts so you can achieve great things.”

Psalm 34:5 FlowersBut our Lord and Teacher warned us about the folly of self-help projects: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am… Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self.” (Mark 8:34, MSG)

There is no doubt that God delights to bless us in every way, but Jesus and the Bible show us a counter-cultural approach to self-esteem. The Bible directs us to focus not on self-improvement, but on God-worship. Proper self-love is a natural byproduct of loving God.

Have you ever tried giving yourself a hug? You can’t quite do it!

But if you love God you find yourself incredibly loved and valued! Hug Jesus close to your heart and you’ll enjoy him embracing you in his Abba’s mercy and kindness.

Genuine and effective self-love is actually a matter of agreeing with God’s grace toward you. Guilt, shame, and self-hatred are ways that we reject the unfailing love of Christ.

Give God Your Warmest Smile!

When you smile with delighted love towards the Lord you realize that his face was already shining on you with radiant love!

This devotional is adapted from Your Best Life In Jesus’ Easy Yoke. Chapter 6 features Kristi’s story.

Easy Yoke is on Amazon in print or Kindle

or on our website here.

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