One of my favorite comedians used to be Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield became famous through his use of self-deprecating humor. Here are a few examples:
“I was such an ugly kid… when I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.”
“I’m so ugly… my father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.”
“I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”
“When I was born, the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, ‘I’m very sorry… we did everything we could… but he still pulled through.’”
“I’m so ugly…my mother had morning sickness – after I was born.”
“Once when I was lost, I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, ‘Do you think we’ll ever find them?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, kid… there are so many places they can hide!’”
While Dangerfield used these one-liners to get a laugh, a lot of people have the same kinds of thoughts inside about themselves and they aren’t laughing. One girl I was recently counseling said that in her mind, ran the constant refrain: “I’m fat, I’m ugly and I can’t do anything right!”
Dr. James Dobson, well known authority on family life, says that from his experience, there is an “epidemic of inferiority” going around. Any counselor will tell you that the vast majority of people they deal with struggle with feelings of low self-esteem.
For sure, there was a time in my life when I identified with people like Rodney Dangerfield. I, too, felt dumb and ugly and unwanted. Yet, thankfully, I can honestly say those days (and thoughts) are behind me.
The key to victory over low self-esteem came for me as I studied the Bible. From that, I realized, first of all, that I had been created by God in His own image. I read Genesis 1:27 which says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” From this verse I realized that if I am a creation of God’s and in His “image” too, then I’m not worthless or valueless. I remember a poster that friends of ours had in their house that said: “I’m not junk because God don’t make junk.” I know I am worthwhile because I exist as a creation of God’s in His image.
Secondly, I realized that since Jesus Christ died for me to save me from my sins, that means that I am someone of value. I read scriptures like Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 1:15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience.” I recognized that if Jesus died for me, then I am not worthless. As someone put it to me, “Henry, even if you were the only person on the earth, Jesus would have left Heaven to come to earth to die for you.”
Those two facts about me and who I am have given me what I consider to be a healthy self-esteem. And, as I live, I attempt to keep a balance between two extremes. One is that sense of worthlessness: “I’m nothing, I’m just dirt” and the other is pride: “I’m the center of the universe, I’m God”. A healthy self-esteem is seeing yourself as God sees you: created in His image, one whom He has sent Jesus His Son to save from sin. Once you see yourself that way, you know you have infinite worth and value. You also realize that your life has an ultimate purpose that only you can fulfill.
You don’t have to run yourself down anymore.