To My Daughter on Managing Self-Image
Dear beautiful daughter,
I did not know that when I was 44 and you were 19, I would be the one struggling with self-esteem. I didn’t know I would be the one shouting out over the Internet, "Will someone please tell me if I am OK?" But after much praying and digging hard in the Bible and listening to God, I have learned. Now I know how to manage this fragile ego of mine, so listen and let me tell you what healthy self looks like ...
In one of our favorite movies, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Francis Ouimet enters the U.S. Open as an amateur golfer, and he does shockingly well against legendary British golfer, Harry Vardon. The game is golf, but the story is about the shadow of judgment:
Francis’s mother encourages him, but his dad disapproves and tries to get him to give up the foolish notion of playing the gentleman’s game of golf.
A beautiful and well-to-do girl believes in Francis, but her snooty brother belittles Francis at every turn.
A crowd follows Francis as he plays, and they respond with cheers – groans – cheers – groans – cheers – groans – their reaction based on how he performs in the moment.
The reporters hold pens in hands, ready to share with the world every detail of Francis’s victory or defeat.
Even Francis himself wavers between his own judgment that he is good enough to play the game and then doubt that causes him to ask aloud, "Why am I here?"
In every scene the shadow of judgment raises Francis’s feeling of worth or makes his hands shake with nerves.
The caddy comes in close behind Francis, scowls at the crowd as he sees the effect they are having on Francis’s game, and cuts through the judgment with powerful words.
We’re working here. Don’t listen to them. We’ll play our game and let those guys worry about theirs.
Keep your head down. I’ll watch the ball and we’ll par this hole.
Let ‘em look.
Read it. Roll it. Hole it.
It’s not until Francis learns to remove himself from the judgment all together and to focus on the game itself that he begins to do well.
This is a picture of our world, my sweet girl. We are continually hard pressed by the judgment of others from without and by our own judgment from within.
But Paul says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself ... but He who judges me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:3,4 NKJV).
Can we live like this, daughter?
Through the grace of Christ, can we remove ourselves from the judgment by others and the judgment by self?
And begin to really live.
Toward the end of the movie, we see that Francis has finally figured out to how to function outside of judgment. His caddy starts to tell him how the other players are doing, and Francis says, I don’t want to hear how anyone else is doing, Eddy. We play our own game.
Sweetheart, is it possible for us to play our own game — even though others are competing and others are watching and others always, always have their opinion of us? Can we focus our lives on Christ alone, the way a golfer focuses on the flag at the end of the green?
The Spirit is caddy, whispering, Don’t listen to them. Keep your head down. We’ll play our game and let those guys worry about theirs.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus …” (Hebrews 12:2).
Christ is the flag.
When you’re 44, my girl, I hope you are finding joy in the game instead of trembling with nerves.
Live with those big blue eyes on Christ, with no care to the applause or groans of the crowd, with no care to what the reporters will say, with no judgment even from within yourself. And please, let not even the opinions of your own momma keep you from playing to win the Prize.
Keep your head down.
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