Fairness is important to me. When we were teaching this concept to our kids, in involved things like teaching them to share equally, not to take more than was rightfully theirs and so on. If they were dividing something to share, the rule was that the one who cut or divided had last pick–all this in an attempt to ensure fairness. We never really defined what being fair meant but in my mind, it means that no one should get an advantage that they didn’t deserve.
In my approach to life means that no matter what I believe, I do have to look at the other side(s). I tend to get irritated at “unfair” writing, speaking and thinking which picks a side and simply assumes that everything else is wrong. I don’t believe that everything is equally right but for me fairness demands that everything be given equal treatment and consideration–all of which means that I get really frustrated with election campaigns, advertising, and a lot of religious stuff.
And so, I need to write about something to be fair. I have been writing a lot about low self-esteem and the need to give ourselves more value and challenge the debilitating myths that make us think we should see ourselves as worthless and unimportant and unworthy. Over the years of my ministry, I think this is the default position for most conservative believers, the position that we are encouraged to adopt if we want to be “good” Christians.
I will most likely return to that theme many times as I work on this blog–but my sense of fairness demands that I write something about the other side. I need to look a bit at what happens when our self-focus becomes too strong and too powerful and we develop an overly inflated ego. I have known a few people whose pride has become so powerful that it takes over their lives and relationships and become as serious problem as low self-esteem. I have even been accused of this myself more than a few times.
I don’t have as much experience with the problem of over-developed pride as I do with under-developed pride but I have observed an interesting thing about some of the people who show this trait. Underneath that over-developed love of self and the boasting and the constant self-focus that can drive people away is often a deeply submerged lack of confidence and a very bad self-image. Yes, I am saying that an over-inflated ego often comes from the same place as the low self-esteem that I am more familiar with. The pride and boasting and superiority are sometimes a defense for the problem that I see all too often.
But some people who have low-self esteem follow the path of trying to compensate by building a beautiful facade which they carefully place over the fear and insecurity that is their real life. Then, they use this facade like an army tank to defend their shaky view of themselves. It seems that they work on the premise that “The best defense is a good offense” and blow up or run over everyone and everything they perceive to be threat to their scared and poorly developed self hiding inside the tank.
There are probably people with this over-whelming pride who come from a very different place. Some, for example, have come from such privileged backgrounds which have sheltered them from the realities of life and they never develop a balanced and sober view of themselves. Some may have such serious emotional damage that they are incapable of seeing anything but themselves. A few may get so disoriented by their distorted belief systems that they really believe they are more important than anyone else.
But my experience has been that many of us believe deep down that we are pretty much worthless and unimportant. Some of us, perhaps most of us, let ourselves accept this as our reality and wallow around in the swamps of low self-esteem. A few go a different way, trying to convince themselves of their value by building an elaborate self-image to compensate for their poor self-esteem.
In both processes, the end result is the same–we don’t get a real and honest view of ourselves and therefore we have an equally distorted view of others and even God. I don’t think one distortion is any worst than the other–and both need to be exposed to the powerful light of God’s love and grace and acceptance so that we can discover who and what we really are.
May the peace of God be with you.