For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

—Romans 12:3

Probably no part of our inner life is more fragile and important than our self-concept. Parents must wisely help children develop a healthy concept of self. With the laws being passed to deny transgender children the healthcare they need and deserve, it is more important than ever that parents encourage their children to develop a healthy concept of who they are. All of us, in all stages of life, are shaped by our self-concept more than we often realize.

In the verse above, Paul cautions us, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” It’s easy for us to think highly of ourselves—or at least to sound as if we do. We can express pride so easily. It seems to me that there are also many times when we think too lowly of ourselves. I know I am guilty of this more so than thinking too highly of myself. A lack of self-esteem is a struggle for many of us. We remember so well what we can’t do or what we haven’t done well. We quickly look at others as they have superior abilities and feel inadequate.

It’s more than self-esteem, though. It is harder for children and young adults to have self-esteem and accept themselves if they are not encouraged by parents, teachers, and others who are crucial in forming their identity. It takes a leap of faith to accept ourselves, especially those who are LGBTQ+. Brian G. Murphy of Queer Theology wrote, “When LGBT people come out, we step into the unknown. For many, it is a daring (and sometimes dangerous) act of faith.” If those who are important to us reject us, it diminishes our faith. It causes us to question our relationship with God, and that rejection can have devastating consequences. That is why it is so important that parents and mentors support children and young adults, especially those of the LGBTQ+ community.

We have to be comfortable in our own skin and have self-esteem before we can grow into the person God wants us to be. The author Thomas F. Shubnell wrote, “You will never be who you want to be, until you are happy with who you are.” I have long felt that much of my life was wasted because I was not encouraged to be myself. I was made to be ashamed of being a gay man. It has taken many years to come to terms with my sexuality and faith. I was taught that the two were incompatible, but they are more than compatible; my sexuality and faith are part of who I am. We can’t let shame keep us from being ourselves. The American playwright Edward Albee said, “What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it.”

Accept yourself! Believe in yourself! Enjoy your life! Be you!

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

One response to “Self-Esteem

  • Rye

    Good piece. Be the man you need to be to be happy. Too many people don’t live up to their potential physically, mentally and gender “ly”. A wasted life is a cruel grave marker. Those who succeed usually have high self esteem which allows them to be confidence. High confidence paves the way to mental success.

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