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Columnist: Learn to love the real you

A tall, good-looking young man, came to a minister’s study one day to talk. The young man obviously had a lot to live for, but he had a troubled outlook. He had just taken a series of tests for admission to college and the results had not been encouraging.

“They tell me,” he said, “I just can’t cut it.”

I would dare say that young was speaking for a number within the sight of this page. Truthfully, most of us have moments when we feel defeated, inadequate and that “we just can’t cut it.” We often feel inferior as we face the circumstances of our lives.

In my early high school days, I had great difficulty talking to a girl I liked over the telephone. I world make a call and then struggle for the words.

“Hello,” she would answer.

I would reply, “This is Hal, Hal Brady.”

I would always hate having to say that “This is Hal. Hal Brady.” And then there would be tongue-tied silence.

Among other things, low self-esteem or inferiority hurts our relationships.

But, specifically, there is a scripture passage that addresses this sense of inferiority — low self-esteem — and inadequacy. In answer to the lawyer’s question about the greatest commandment, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

When we first read these verses, we are so overpowered with “loving God and loving neighbor” we almost overlook the key ingredient to the entire process-the words “as yourself.” Hang those words across the mantelpiece of your heart,” as yourself.”

It all begins here. If we are truly to love God and our neighbors, we must love ourselves.

So how do we love ourselves and overcome our feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and perhaps, even worthlessness? Well, it probably won’t happen overnight, but it can happen.

Initially, we can love ourselves by remembering that it is God’s estimate of us that counts! An advertisement in a national magazine was sponsored by the Humane Society. Of course, the purpose of the ad was to interest people in adopting homeless pets. The ad featured a full-page color picture of a puppy and kittens. As an emotional appeal, it accomplished its goal.

But it was the sentence at the top of the page that was and is so crucial. The sentence reads, “It’s who owns them that makes them important.”

That’s also true of us, especially, as it relates to our feelings of inferiority. It’s who owns us that makes us important.

However, I’m afraid that too many of us measure our worth not by God, but by some distorted reflection from our past or present.

During the pre-Civil War days in New Orleans, some slaves-spiritless, despairing and hopeless-were working. But among them, one man stood with his head erect and his spirit unbroken.

Someone asked, “Who is that fellow? Is he the straw boss, or perhaps the owner of the slaves?”

“No,” the reply came. “That fellow can’t get it out of his head that he is the son of a king.”

That says it all! Made in the image of God, we are sons and daughters of the King.

Second, we can love ourselves by claiming our uniqueness! While living in Dallas, Texas, a few years back, I attended a banquet honoring the great Texas Ranger baseball pitcher, Nolan Ryan.

What a great pitcher, even more, what a great hero for modern culture. The man who introduced him said, “What makes Nolan Ryan unique is the fact that he has not forgotten that there are other things in life more important than baseball.”

That’s certainly true, but what really makes Nolan Ryan unique is that he’s one of a kind created by the very hand of God. And that’s also true of you and me. That’s the reason we don’t have to compare ourselves with anybody else, because we are reality one of a kind. In reality, there is nothing to compare.

And because we are unique, we do not have to be number one to make a contribution! I know I’m not one of the world’s best preachers. But I don’t have to be. I just have to be the best preacher that I can be. God will take care of my contribution and yours as well.

Third, we can love ourselves by making up our minds to be somebody! William James, the noted psychologist, taught that the greatest discovery of his life was that people can alter their lives by altering their attitudes. Stating it differently, we can overcome our sense of inferiority and inadequacy.

For sure, we dare not minimize the strength of our low moods, but neither must we minimize our own strength and ability as well.

There was a lady who met a little boy and asked him his name. He replied, “My name is George Washington.”

“I hope that you will grow up to be like George Washington,” the lady said.

“I cannot help being like George Washington because that is who I am,” was the little boy’s reply. Be somebody!

By God’ grace and assistance, we can all be somebody. “Love God and your neighbor “as yourself.”

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Faith encouragement

Hal Brady

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways. halbradyministries.com