(A tale of low self-esteem)
My height, complexion, body size and everything about me dissatisfied me. I didnt understand why God created me the way He did…
Growing up, I never liked myself or my personality in any way and had a lot of negative impressions about myself. I would often compare myself with people and wish to be like them. I also tried to please people in order to be accepted into groups I considered the ‘standard’.
I remember my mum telling me that when she found out she was pregnant with me, she didnt want another child so she tried to abort me. I think this contributed to how I felt about myself and my feelings of rejection as I felt that I didn’t matter in this world. I was dejected and alone and didn’t like talking to people.
One of the beautiful things God did for me amidst my struggle was to restrain me from doing things I would have regretted. Because of the way I felt about myself, I developed what looked like a reserved personality, at least that’s what I called it. This personality prevented me from being involved in the bad things my friends would do, especially the need to have a boyfriend. Though I was desperate to be like them and I really wanted to try, it just didn’t work out because of how pathetic I thought my attempts would be. Now I know this was the Lord’s hand.
But around 2018, when I was in my second year in the university, I was fed up. I decided to push aside my restraints. I really wanted to follow the footsteps of my friends, I was ready to do whatever was necessary in order to be accepted, including losing my sanity!
As you may guess, all my efforts were weak-willed and terrible. It seemed that a force greater than me worked hard to foil my plans. I was always surprised whenever this happened, I wondered what or who was opposing my efforts. What could be thwarting my plans? I was soon to find out!
Then God Intervened…
Later that year, I stayed in a new room in the hostel and one of my roommates, sis E., suddenly started talking to me about God. She introduced me to God’s lighthouse and told me to follow her for the Believers Bible Classes she was attending at that time. At that time, I didn’t understand the things that were taught and I definitely did not see how it would help me become a more confident person; however I kept going for the Bible classes.
I had been told that a proper relationship with God was a good way to help boost my esteem and I wanted to see how it would turn out.
With time, I came to understand a lot of things and it was easy to see why God didn’t allow my plans to work out. I found out I could have ended up ten times worse than how I was when God found me and I am grateful to God for His mercy.
After I came to know God, I prayed to God that if He eventually separates me from my old friends, He should give me people and friends that will help me and make me better, and He did just that.
Relationships Gone Cold
My deliverance came through an understanding of how God sees me from His scripture, Pastor’s teachings about the role of women and God’s heart concerning different matters, including encouragement from my shepherd (the older sister who was assigned to guide me in my walk with God), separating from bad company and having godly friends.
The last point was a major game changer. God’s ways are indeed past finding out. Let me share a bit on how it happened:
Apart from attending church meetings, sis E. used to call me for morning devotions and Believers Bible School. I spent the time I’d typically use for evil now listening to a lot of the words of God. I was introduced to other GLH members offering the same courses as myself (even though they were medical students). These brethren helped me start going to read in class early in the morning before the first lecture as our pastor had taught us to do. So me, a perpetual latecomer started going early to school!
Initially, when I started walking with them to class, I’d still check for my old friends to see if they were ready so we could go together, but they were usually not ready because we had a habit of going late to school. Going early to class also came with sitting in front as opposed to the back seat which I loved. This was in addition to my habit of missing some classes, but brethren wouldn’t let me.
That was how my friendship with my former crew started to grow cold. They were disappointed that I was separating from them and even sitting in front.
Pastor Ita had also emphasized judicious use of our time as a student. He taught us to make a timetable and follow it, and not while away the free time in between school hours doing useless things. Before I got born again, I’d spend my free time with these friends of mine gisting and gossiping. At some point, pastor’s words became like a reminder in my head.
“You’re wasting time, why are you here?” rang in my head. Because of this, I’d tell my friends “I’m coming oh, I want to go and do something”. I started to use my free time to read my Bible or a Christian book.
Something funny too would happen when I’d try to go to the rooms of my gossip partners, brethren would see me and ask where I was going, and when I told them, they’d make it their duty to start reminding me of what was taught in a church meeting. Whenever they started talking, I’d get distracted from my initial destination and focus on what they were saying.
A time came and two of my friends started to live off campus, and one of them who still lived in the hostel was barely around. Their absence made me stay more with brethren who lived in the hostel and our conversations were always edifying.
When I got to my third year in school, I had an issue with my courses. These ‘friends’ called my dad and reported me, saying I was no longer focusing on school, I was always going to a church, and hanging around medical students (brethren offering the same courses with me). They blamed my failure on these things. I was very angry with them and cut them off. This was the beginning of parental persecution for me.
God in His mercy separated me from bad company as our friendship turned bitter and I didn’t have time to associate with them.
Gradually Set Free
The low self esteem left gradually after I started to separate from my bad friends.
I didn’t believe I could do anything good, but sis E, my roommate used to tell me that I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me. She told me I was beautifully and wonderfully made and encouraged me to be proud of who I am in God. I noticed also that brethren used to do things on their own without being bothered about what people had to say and all, and I began to learn this attribute. They taught me how to be bold! They would insist I was the opposite of what I thought of myself.
Evangelism also offered me the opportunity to talk to people who had the same struggles as I had with low self esteem and I saw myself encouraging them.
Pastor’s teachings on low self esteem also helped me. He taught us not to think that way of ourselves. I remembered his words and used them to encourage myself. God was very practical with me, he’d allow me to go through situations where I’d be tempted to start to feel inadequate, but He helped me use these situations to fight!
During the Passover retreat in 2021, pastor mentioned the demon of low self esteem. He told us to shout aloud “Jesus loves me”. I can never forget that moment as I kept shouting “Jesus loves me!” I felt relieved after shouting that night and noticed that after that day, I was able to start doing things on my own, including standing to talk to a person alone as I was very shy. Brethren helped too when they’d refuse to follow me to places in order to help me speak up on my own.
Gradually, the thought of “nobody loves me”started to go away.
The stories of Esther in the Bible, how confident and bold she was, not afraid of what people thought about her and how she didn’t let the words of Haman get to her head spurred me on.
I also learnt from the Proverbs 31 woman, and different women who stood boldly for Jesus even in the midst of troubles and were delivered.
Scriptures became my sword, and I used them to fight off ungodly thoughts when they came. Amongst them were “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13), and “for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love and self control” (2 Tim 1:7). A scripture I love so much is “I am beautifully and wonderfully made” (Psa 139:14), it was like a ringing tone in my head and it kept me going.
After I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, He too would speak to me, telling me not to feel lowly of myself because God loves me no matter what happens to me. He’d tell me there was a reason I was made the way I was made. He’d remind me of Jeremiah whom God knew before he was even born (Keep 1:5), so God knew me!
The Sisters meetings (Ladies Laugh and Lounge) organized was another place I received deliverances. Pastor would address specific women issues during those meetings and it helped me identify and overcome them.
Testimonies from other sisters who struggled with low self esteem also helped. I couldn’t believe some sisters had these struggles! Their stories encouraged me too, and let me know that I could grow to become a spiritual woman of God.
Through the encouragement of scripture, I no longer have thoughts that I dislike myself. Infact, I love the way God made me! And the things I thought I couldn’t do because of the limitations I placed on myself, I can do them now. I can now talk to people, laugh and do so much more without feeling lowly and unacceptable.
I look at myself now and I see what God has done for me. I don’t know how He did it, all I know is that I kept coming. I sat under God’s word and strove to obey them through His help despite my fleshs resistance. And through this, I have seen God’s transformation in my life.
In the last few years, God has been bringing down a lot of issues in my life. I am grateful to Him for rescuing me from the claws of low self-esteem.
– Sis E.L
9th April 2023
© God’s Lighthouse