A Lighthouse or a Mirage

LightHouse10_zpsa4a8f0d1The experience of learning spiritual truth often involves an examination of different passages of Scripture. I’ve been thinking of the words of Jesus and Paul and contrasting and comparing the meaning of these verses.

The first passage comes from Matthew where Jesus says: “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”

The second passage comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life . . .(2:14-16).”

The subject of “light” and its impact and influence on society is a theme of both verses. After reading them, a question came to my mind: Am I a lighthouse or a mirage?

One provides direction in times of darkness, and safety in the face of danger. The other offers false hope to those who are dying of thirst. A lighthouse or a mirage, which are you?

Floccinaucinihilipilification

No the title of this article is not a typo.  It is a term that has the distinction of being one of the longest words in the English language and one of the most difficult to pronounce.  Floccinaucinihilipilification is defined as the act of esteeming something to be valueless.

Due to the nature of my work, I meet people from all walks of life.  Sometimes I am asked to help them with their personal and peculiar situations.  Low self-esteem is at the root of some of these problems.

Those who deal with issues of low self-esteem may spend too much time in self-floccinaucinihilipilification.  Their life is a mirage of self-deception that leaves them empty and hollow.

One of Aesop’s Fables comes to mind when I think of self-esteem.   It is the story of the Ass and the Lion’s skin.  One version of the story is:  An Ass once found a Lion’s skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then everyone knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgeling for the fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: “Ah, I knew you by your voice.”

While you can draw many principles from this story, I think it speaks to people who are not comfortable in their own skin.  This can be the result of childhood relationships.  If a person came from a family in which the relationships were close, strong, and positive, their self-esteem was nurtured.  If on the other hand, their family of origin was one of constant criticism and negative feedback, they may struggle with self-esteem.

How does a person begin to lift his self-esteem?  The first step is to become aware of your thoughts.  Negative thoughts that ruminate on your weaknesses and flaws are detrimental to your well-being.  Reframe these thoughts and focus on solutions and the positive aspect of your life. Instead of measuring your worth in pounds, weigh it in the value of a smile; see strength in acts of kindness, not bulging biceps; and see beauty in gracious words, not Estee Lauder.

The second step is to consider the potential of your relationship with God.  Some of the most uplifting words in the Bible are:  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (I John 3:1).  Think about those words–God wants to identify you as one of His children.

One way you can help another person with their self-esteem is to embrace Jesus’ principle: Love your neighbors as yourself (Matthew 19:19).  Why not lend a hand, so you can lift a life out of despair?  Diane Loomans captured the essence of this principle when she wrote:

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

I hope you esteem this article as being a thought worth thinking.

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