At the same time, you have the tiger mum who tells you that you're not good enough. "You're weak!" "Try harder!" And you may close the other ear and not hear the positives and the roar of the crowd as you score a goal.
With all these different voices telling us how we should value ourselves, which one should we listen to? What really makes us valuable? Let's open both ears.
Maybe you value yourself through your appearance. You may spend an hour in front of the mirror trying to take the perfect display picture for Facebook. You may compare yourself with your friends. You may be put down by the TV and social networking hinting at you: "You're not beautiful enough," or for males, the very explicit: "Do you even lift bro?" You might try and try to measure up to these standards, and because of this some of you might've even at some point suffered from depression or eating disorders. Is this how you should view yourself?
But the Bible says: "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." – Psalm 139 verses 13-14a.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Maybe you value yourself through the good things that you do. Maybe you feel proud that you helped your friend out the other day, or because you raised money for a good cause. You might even feel morally superior to your friends and colleagues. You might think that because you haven't done anything excessively bad, God will accept you. To you, God is like that next door neighbour who you are on good terms with but who you never talk to. Is this how you should view yourself?
But the Bible says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" – Romans 3 verse 23.
We are deeply fallen. We are slaves to sin.
So maybe you see yourself through all the bad things you do; all the sins, all the failures, all the disappointments that you cause. Maybe you've had a dark past of crime, alcoholism, and/or drug use. You are tied down by guilt. Maybe you think: How can I ever meet God's perfect standard? I'm bad, I'm sinful, I'm completely worthless, I'm dirty rags. After all, this is what the Bible says! Is this how you should view yourself?
Notice the three dots at the end of the last Bible quote. The rest of the sentence goes on to say:
"…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..." – Romans 3 verse 24
Dirty rags can be washed. We are fully forgiven through the gift of Jesus.
Maybe you value yourself through your relationships. You might feel loved because you have a boyfriend/girlfriend or a spouse who cares for you; but now again they disappoint you. They fail, their love is not perfect. Maybe, you've never been married. You feel worthless for not having lived with what seems to be the most intimate relationship in human experience. Maybe, you've immigrated to a different country where everything is alien to you, with no one to love or be loved by. Is this how you should view yourself?
But the Bible says: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Romans 8 verses 38-39
We are eternally loved by God, the one whose love will never fail.
Maybe both the soccer mum and the tiger mum have a point. In this cacophony of voices, maybe we've finally come to some peace. The challenge falls to you. What do you value? How do you value yourself?
But the voices don't stop here…
Anton Zhang is studying aeronautics and arts at the University of Sydney, he is part of a family of four, his hobbies include music, hiking and fencing. He is an active part of the Christian youth work at the Padstow Chinese Congregational Church.
Anton Zhang's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/anton-zhang.html