Saturday, 15 June 2013

On the day when a woman has the right amount of self esteem, the universe will implode.

Not really, but it can feel like that.

A few weeks back at The Big Church Day Out the first act we heard was female solo artist Philippa Hanna. As the big TV screens showed, she was pretty, blond, had a great figure and we could all hear a good voice. After about 15min Chris leaned across and said "every song she's sung is about self esteem", and Chris was absolutely right. Even if it wasn't the central message, the same issue seemed to crop up again and again.

This weekend there's a 'ladies day' in Cheltenham (called Splendor, but we can't help make the connection with the sugar substitute) that's been previously well supported by women from the chapel. Chris has been before, and was feeling almost obliged to go, before realising that she didn't really want too. The recurring theme has been self esteem, and how women never have any (we'll gloss over those with an excess).

This reluctance on the part of my wife to go along is almost a validation of me as a husband, that she does not have low self-esteem. And while I'm not proud about it (why should I be - I'm doing no more than I was called to) I am enormously grateful that's the case.

It's bizarre to me that a sense of being worthless seems to dog most Christian women continually. Shouldn't low self esteem be one of the things that gets dealt with like all the other besetting sins, in the first year or so after salvation, and then just move forward knowing that they were loved for who they were? Isn't there something freakish, that poor self-esteem is apparently a central characteristic of a modern woman - an even wider spread addiction than that to porn in men? One of the things I don't get about Christian wives who have been married to good men a long time and daughters brought up in loving Christian families is why they seem to have self-esteem issues. It is as though self worth drains from most women like tea through a strainer.

At risk of sounding kookie, I wonder if we need to consider setting up deliverance ministry for women, specifically on this issue.

It's not a case of women needing empowerment - I believe that is a humanistic and sinful self-centred way of dealing with the issue, because it takes the power and places it in the person. It says "you are in charge: you belong to yourself and you are the most important person". Instead if we understand that we ARE poor, weak, helpless, make mistakes and fail, yet are also loved by God, forgiven, made new in Him and able to please Him then our thinking can be changed and we get our sense of self-worth from God instead of pretending we have it all together.

Having typed that I then stopped and asked myself why people often flourish when shown love and sometimes whither when treated badly.

Humans, it seems to me, were made to live in harmony in family, and for most people there is a need both to show and receive love. In a way, the family models church and the church models family, in that both are environments of intimacy between adults in various degrees of relationship that are places where love and affirmation should take place. Sometimes they are battlegrounds, particularly where individuals involved have an expectation and experience of warfare in such environments, and sometimes where people's self-esteem comes from believing in themselves, rather than in God. In such situations, having to give up something, lay it down, work in submission etc. becomes a direct threat and challenge to their self-worth and maybe even identity, and may shake them to the core.  So rather than recognise that they can hold onto nothing and own nothing, they retain delusions of adequacy and fight to retain the things, in the end, don't actually make them of value anyway.

I'm not looking for an answer in this post (well, not exactly, anyway) so much as thinking through my fingers, because if find it much easier to order thoughts on a page than in my head. This is not intended to be a pot shot at anyone in particular either, though I seem to know so many women with poor self-esteem that there's bound to be someone who could think I were talking about her. But I also think that we cannot be tackling this correctly because it keeps coming back again and again and again.

Going out on a limb a little, one of our regular discussions in our men's group is about the portrayal of men and fathers on TV and in advertising. Bear with me here, because I see almost zero TV, so this is observations through they eyes of others. Husbands and fathers, I am told, are presented as foolish, weak, risible and lazy. Women are presented as strong, long-suffering, wise, decision makers, hard workers who carry responsibility for the whole family. They also have great figures, look beautiful with good hair and skin, have great dress sense, live in spacious modern homes and can afford all the latest things. Someone I know posted one of those images on Facebook with text about how women weren't strong because of what they carried before they broke, but because of what the carried after they broke. Nuts. just nuts.

Could it be that the self-esteem issues in normal healthy women from happy secure backgrounds - not those abused or mistreated - are due to continual bombardment from the media, about who they should be and how empowered they are?

Could it be that my wife is happy and secure, not just because she knows who she is in God, that I love her and demonstrate that frequently, but also because she simply doesn't get bombarded by lies through the TV?

Food for thought.


  1. Anonymous4:22 pm

    I too have found a recurring theme today. Yours is the 5-6th blog I've read with the words "in not thinking of anyone in particular" etc.
    This always makes me think you mist have someone in mind as you write...........which is fine it's your blog, your thoughts. You should be able to air them without fear of offending.........we don't have to read it : )

  2. Hi Anon, thanks for commenting.

    When I wrote "This is not intended to be a pot shot at anyone in particular" I didn't mean that these thoughts were divorced from all reality, but that I wasn't writing about a single specific person. Obviously this has come out of interactions with lots of different people, some of whom I know in meatspace, some I've never met in person and in the case of Philippa Hannah who I've never conversed with at all.


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