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Why Self-Improvement Fails Where Truth and Simple Faith Succeeds

I was born in a good family as a first child and grandchild on both sides. Everyone doted on me. But I was also sickly, moody, and stubborn. Eventually, I wore my poor mother out. When my brother was born seven years later, healthy and happy as a clam, she seemed to have re-discovered the joy of motherhood. Maybe that's when the unintended message of rejection had gotten into my head.

Things didn't get better in my assimilation with this world as I grew older. I was a scrawny and sullen girl, and that did not go well with my peers either. When I morphed into an awkward teen, the sense of inadequacy only intensified. I wondered what was wrong with me. Why couldn't I be outgoing and charming like the others? Why did I withdraw into myself like a turtle into its shell every time I had to be social? Afraid of being laughed at and judged, that was exactly what I've faced at times from those who could sense my vulnerability. But I was not the meek type. I fought back, responding with anger that I also turned on myself, hating the way I looked and berating myself for reacting in a negative way.

Does any of it sound familiar? But this was only one way to look at my life. It was not the whole truth. I was in fact a very pretty girl and could have easily modeled as a teen if only I saw myself with different eyes. Being skinny also helped me retain youthful looks and a healthy weight later in life. My introversion allowed me to spend time on multiple creative outlets from art to writing. These things are still an important part of my life. My stubbornness turned into resilience. And not having a ton of friends to divide my attention, I was able to develop long-lasting meaningful relationships with fewer people. Even my illness led to healing and a better appreciation for what I have now.

How did this shift in perspective happen? How did I go from despising myself and my inadequacies to realizing that all of the things I loathed were an integral part of who I was meant to become? You might say I grew up and therefore developed a more adequate view of life. Or maybe I've read a few good books about improving my self-esteem and social skills. Possibly I've met the right people who helped me and also had several positive experiences that altered my views. All of these things did happen, but that was not what made me whole.

I have nothing against self-help books. I love reading them too. And I am all for personal growth and tapping into inner strength. Now more than ever, there are tons of resources about self-full-ness: self-love, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, self-perfection, self-advocacy, self-promotion, and so on. But these strategies can only take us so far until we reach the end of ourselves. We are limited beings after all. Otherwise, wouldn't all of our problems be solved through this self-reliance? Try as you might, this is not enough. We are not as self-sufficient as we imagine ourselves to be.

I wasn't healed and restored by working hard on improving myself. No. Being healed and restored first was what changed me completely. All the steps I took after, poured out of the grateful heart and a position of knowing who I was and also whose I was. I was taken up on the mountain first and my burdens were removed. Then from that higher perspective, I could see the right path to take. It is harder to do while being stuck in the rut of self-limiting beliefs. Here is this "self" again: self-loathing, self-deprecation, self-defense, self-centredness.

I was tired of fighting with myself.

For the longest time, I actually wanted to be someone else and envied people who were different. That was until I met Someone who was bigger than me. Someone who did not have the limitations I faced. Someone who already paved the way to my freedom. He had all the answers to my questions and keys to the closed doors. All I needed was to face the truth and have a little faith.

Yes, I am talking about God. But not a Universal Nameless Force somewhere in space that we humans try to manipulate by following rituals, observing certain days, and applying a few formulas to increase the chances that our self-empowerment strategies would work. I met a personal God who created me, knew every single thing about me (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and still loved me unconditionally. His Son Jesus Christ was the representation of His compassion on this Earth, and He was willing to die for me to let me get rid of my internal discord.

That was the truth I discovered: God knew me by name, cared about me, and had a plan for my life. This truth kicked out the lies in my life that I was somehow inadequate, unwanted, and good for nothing. It set me free and opened my eyes to see all the gifts He placed in me.

God pulled the bitter roots out of my heart by pouring His acceptance of me. That did not mean He ignored the things I did wrong. No, He covered them with His sacrifice and told me: "Now go and sin no more."

His love is what softened the soil of my heart and planted good seeds. I had to still cultivate that harvest and keep the weeds out, but the initial change was not of my own strength. All I had to do was surrender my self-reliance and put my trust in God instead.

Here are a few truths I discovered that helped me to become who I am today:

  • You are not here by accident - God had crafted you on purpose.

Ok, this one just completely debunked the spirit of rejection. Just look around. There is not a single person who is exactly like someone else. We are not fabricated. We are created individually with great attention to detail. One-of-a-kind handiwork. You might have misused and misunderstood the parts of who you are, but that doesn't mean God made a mistake. There was a reason He made you the way you are. You just don't know it yet.

  • God doesn't want you to try and fix yourself - His love will make you whole.

We can patch things up pretty well. So well in fact that no one around us will have a clue that we are hurting inside and keeping things together by a shoestring. We, humans, are pretty resilient and resourceful, but that doesn't necessarily make us happy, peaceful, and content. Falling into God's love, falling apart safely in His arms, and letting Him put you back together does. He even gave up His own Son to have the ability to do that. Don't you think if there was another way to restore us, He wouldn't have found it? Come as you are, accept His forgiveness, then watch Him work in your life.

  • You are limited - God is not.

How many times have you exhausted your options, came to the end of your strength, and couldn't find the answer in other people either? I did plenty. But I have the Father (FATHER!) in heaven who takes care of His children. He sees me, knows exactly what I need, and is ready to support me. If only I remembered that more often than not. All it takes is a little faith and a little trust that God has our best interest in mind. Nope, parents don't always give their children everything they ask for, but there is usually a good reason behind it. And there is nothing the Creator of the Universe can't do.

I can say that today I am truly a happy person not because of something I did, but because of the guidance and blessing I'd received from God. Every time I rely on myself again, I reach my limit. And when I remember to lean on Him, I reach for the stars.

The road to healing, wholeness, and purposeful living is not always easy and it's never fast, but give yourself a good kickstart and talk to God today. If you want someone to help you with that, here are a few resources:

Live your best life today.


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