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Teaching self esteem versus self respect

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Self-respect and self-esteem are not synonymous. Here are the definitions:

self-respect
n
a proper sense of one’s own dignity and integrity
self-respectful , self-respecting adj

self-esteem
n
1. respect for or a favourable opinion of oneself
2. an unduly high opinion of oneself; vanity

(Source: Collins English dictionary)

And this from All About Life Challenges:

Are self-respect and self-esteem the same? An individual with a healthy self-respect “likes” themselves — even when encountering the inevitable failures in life. To esteem something is to “hold in high regard.” Self-respect and self-esteem are quite different. Self-esteem balances precariously upon a comparison with someone who’s always “a little better.” When we esteem someone or something, we face serious trouble if we do not measure up to those standards. Our esteem may ebb and flow, whereas a healthy self-respect (liking ourselves) is always grounded in what we are (and are not) — not in what we can or cannot accomplish. I love to ice skate. I love to watch professional skaters. For years I took private lessons and trained on a personal skating rink. Yet I am not an exceptional skater. Realizing that I am not “Olympic material” doesn’t affect my self-respect.

I think we do a huge disservice to our children when we stress self-esteem instead of self-respect.

Self-esteem teaches:
“I can be anything I want to be in life.”

Self-respect teaches:
“If I set realistic goals, work/train/study diligently, I greatly increase my chances to realize my dreams.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I should always be treated with respect and dignity.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I have an expectation of being treated with the same respect and dignity I afford others, but when that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean I have a right to demand it nor does it mean I’m not respectful or dignified.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I’m a winner just for showing up.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I’m good at some things. If I’m the best, I may be rewarded. When someone else is rewarded for something they excel in, I applaud their reward and can appreciate their achievement.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I am special. I have the right to express my individuality by the way I dress. No one has the right to censor my creative spirit.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I am a unique individual. I can express my individuality without disrespecting/offending the expected and accepted norms of a given group dynamic.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I am entitled.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I am worthy.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over the self-esteem bandwagon. It’s a heck of a lot easier to teach kids to conform to their surroundings than it is to attempt to conform the surroundings to the kid, and I’m pretty sure they will survive with their individuality and unique personalities in tact.

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:2-4

For more posts on the topic of Children, visit Bridget Chumbley’s place, One Word at a Time.

The Great Illusion

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of hearing one of my favorite pastors, Pete Wilson speak at a local church in Houston. His sermon was based in part on his new book Plan B: What to do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would, which, if it means anything, has my absolute ringing endorsement. I even had an opportunity to chat with him briefly and get him to sign my copy of his book. Come to think of it, he still has my purple pen. Dang it.

Anyhow, I’m about halfway through the book, and while there is much that is underlined and highlighted, I think the following passage convicted me more than any other:

“Every one of us must make a very important decision and this decision will have huge implications on how we process life. We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is

If you place your faith in what God does, you’d better prepare yourself for frustration and disappointment because you’re never going to figure out God’s ways this side of heaven. That’s because God is God! As he told the prophet Isaiah…

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are my ways higher than your ways

And my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)”


I MUST stop thinking of God as some sort of cosmic vending machine ready and waiting to lavish me with blessings because I’m trying to live a life obedient to Him, or withhold blessings because I’ve made a mess of things. YES, I desire to live a life obedient to Him, but not in order to receive something back. I want to live a life obedient to Him because I desire to obey the greatest commandment: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37a)

What prevents me from living my life that way? It’s something Pete calls the greatest illusion of all:

The illusion of control.

This illusion is deceptive. When things in life seem to be going smoothly, we can begin to believe that we’re actually in control of the people and circumstances around us. It is usually only when things go wrong and we try to regain our footing that we realize that we were never in control in the first place. I have a good friend who is what I would consider a control freak. I once asked her, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” Her reply to me was, “What’s the difference?” I laughed at her response, but I must admit there have been times in my life when I equated what I wanted (being right) to being happy. The great irony of this predicament is that intellectually, I know that peace will only come with surrender. It’s just getting my heart there as well.

“Not my will but Yours be done.”

How about you? Do you ever fall into the illusion of control?

This post is part of the blog carnival on Ego, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Beauty from destruction

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Summer is a relative term when you live in Houston. Warm weather typically comes in March, followed by hot, humid weather which can stretch into November or even December. We basically have two seasons: hot and wet and cold and wet. Summer months also beckon a reality which all of us within reach of the Gulf of Mexico must contend with: hurricane season.

On September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike came ashore and covered most of Galveston Island in a tidal surge. The damage was extensive and far reaching. Entire neighborhood were completely wiped out. Beautiful, historical landmarks were taken out to sea. The following video gives a brief glimpse into the damage caused by the hurricane. If you don’t want to watch the entire video, I suggest you begin at the 6:00 minute mark. Those pictures are very telling.

Most people know Galveston for her beaches. What you may not know is that it is so much more. Downtown Galveston, or “The Strand” as it is often referred to, is rich in history. Beautifully restored Victorian homes are a huge tourist attraction. Grand oak trees lined the neighborhood streets. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike destroyed many of these majestic trees.

But Texans are nothing if not resilient. Instead of using chain saws to remove what was left of the trees, residents and artists chose to find beauty from the chaos and destruction. Many thanks to my friend Marni White who first brought this story to my attention.

Storms, in one form or another, come to all of us. Given enough advanced notice, we can choose to flee from them or hunker down and ride them out. Regardless of how we choose to deal with them, sooner or later we are faced with the aftermath of their destruction. Some choose to ignore the damage. They pretend that the damage never really happened. If they overlook the destruction and chaos, they can live safely in the comfort of the lives they lived before the storm wreaked havoc. This may work for awhile, but in the end, living in the aftermath while pretending it never happened may prove to be more damaging than the storms themselves. So intent are they to recapture their pre-storm lives, that they fail to see what beautiful lessons and opportunities the storms, while destructive, have to offer them. Perhaps even the chance to live better lives.

To say Galveston was a disaster area after Hurrican Ike would be quite an understatement, and there is still evidence all around that the rebuilding process still have a long way to go. But while the hurricane’s fury destroyed much, it also brought opportunity to bring beauty from destruction. Once the debris was cleared away, a new form of beauty could be seen. Although many ancient and lovely oaks were lost in the hurricane, the residents and artists of Galveston created life-affirming works of art from the trunks of these once majestic trees.

But to truly appreciate the beauty, first you have to remove the debris. And to remove the debris, you first have to admit that you’re surrounded by it.

This post is part of the blog carnival on Summer, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Writing Faction

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If you want to tell what you believe, write non-fiction. If you want to tell the truth, write fiction.

~ Stephen Parolini (@noveldoctor)

When I sat down to write my post for Tuesday’s blog carnival, I was planning to write a story about the strength of hurricanes. It was going to be a teaser for another story I’m writing about the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

Well, the best laid plans, yada, yada…

That’s not what happened. What happened was that another story began pouring out of my mind and heart and onto the page. I wrote furiously, just trying to keep up. I don’t know where it came from, but I knew it was true. The island, the safe harbor and the people? Complete fabrications. But that doesn’t make the story any less true, metaphorically speaking.

When I set my pen down and read over what I had written, I was satisfied. I felt like I had conveyed what I was feeling without breaking the cardinal sin of writing—telling instead of showing. As I sat down to type what I had written in long hand, it occurred to me that the story could say different things to different people, depending on their life experiences and perspective. I was delighted to read the wonderful comments and have my initial thoughts confirmed.

I don’t always reply to comments, but I read and appreciate every one of them. That is especially true for Tuesday’s post. Each analogy relayed a truth that hadn’t occurred to me while I was writing it: The danger of apathy, relying on God to be our fortress in life’s storms, the power of faith and prayer, the slow erosion of our culture. Some read an environmental message, others a message of the dangers of big government and/or big corporations, while others read a more personal or spiritual one.

And they were all correct. Because my truths aren’t necessarily yours.

Sometimes we can read our own stories into someone else’s.

I love it when that happens…

***

Oh, and about the title? No–that’s not a typo. Faction will appear on tomorrow’s Katdishionary post. I know–it’s been awhile since my last update. Try to contain your excitement.

Strength through the storms

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When you live on or near the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are a fact of life. Despite advances in technology, no one can definitively predict when and where a storm will reach landfall. Neither can we predict the ultimate devastation the forces of nature will inflict. With each named storm, residents consider the warnings and advice of the meteorological experts and then make an educated decision to do one of two things: seek shelter further inland or shelter in place. Given enough advance warning and time, we can always get far enough inland to escape the effects of a hurricane.

But what of those people who live on remote islands in the middle of the ocean?

I have heard of one such island in the South Pacific–a tiny yet self sufficient community of fishermen. No one really knows how long the island has been there. The inhabitants have no formal education to speak of, and their history is passed on verbally by the island storytellers from one generation to the next.

One such story involves another island. A neighboring island which they once called home. This island had a very special feature—a naturally occurring harbor surrounded almost entirely by a strong rock wall formation with only a small passageway by which boats could pass from the open ocean. Whenever the seas and winds would rage, everyone knew to get to the shelter of this harbor until the storms had passed. For untold years the harbor protected boats and residents from even the deadliest of storms.

The people were grateful for this safe harbor. And when the rock walls on either side of the entry point began to show wear, some of the islanders wanted to repair the damage done from the storms and the countless ships which entered seeking safe haven.

But many more did not. Surely, they reasoned, a fortress that has sheltered generations of fishermen would continue to remain strong. Others were privately concerned about the damage years of wear had inflicted, but chose to do nothing—hoping that the harbor would remain strong for at least as long as they needed a safe refuge from mother nature’s fury.

Ultimately, apathy and self-interest won out, and no effort was made to repair the stone fortress. The harbor continued to provide safety for the islanders. But years of neglect began to take its toll on the harbor. Though not visible with the naked eye, cracks began to form within the center of the rock formation. While outwardly the harbor seemed as strong as ever, internally its strength was diminishing with each passing day.

So when a relatively weak tropical depression made its way to the tiny island, everyone was shocked when the rock walls surrounding them began to crumble. The wall began sliding into the water at the innermost part of the harbor—working around towards the tiny inlet where so many ships had entered seeking refuge. The destruction was slow, giving all the islanders ample time to board their boats and escape into the open ocean.

Just as the last boat escaped through the inlet, the walls on either side sank into the ocean.

This was the safe harbor’s final act of sacrifice to the people she cared for and protected but who chose not to care for and protect her in kind.

A beautiful sacrifice, and yet such an unnecessary one.

This post is part of the blog carnival on Strength, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Compassion for a passion

From Merriam Webster:

Passion:
(4b) intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction
(5b) a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept

Compassion:
sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with a desire to alleviate it

Some of you probably know the story of how I happened to stumble across a blog called What I Learned Today a little over a year ago. You may even know how an offer from me of a weekly guest post developed into a working partnership between Billy Coffey and me. What you may not know, or fully understand, is why I offered to help Billy. In a nutshell, it’s because I have compassion for his passion: writing.

If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend reading his post today: Compassion in the Cold. It give a glimpse into just how long he’s been pursuing this almost lifelong passion of his. It is a story of one of the many crossroads in his writing career. Our chance meeting through the blogosphere (if you want to call it that–I don’t believe it was) is another.

Shortly after he started guest posting for me, he mentioned to me via email that he had a manuscript he was trying to get published. He had had several rejection letters from agents and publishers, many of them telling him the same thing: You need to build a platform. What I Learned Today was that platform. Again, many of you may already know this part of the story.

Now here’s the part you may not know. By the time I offered the weekly guest spot on my blog, Billy Coffey was once again ready to give up his dreams of ever being published. Billy is a strong, determined person, but rejection and obscurity after years of trying can wear down even the best of us. Having read his manuscript, there was no way I was going to let that happen if I could help it.

So help I did, and continue to do so. Because it was the right thing to do. Because a world without his stories would be a little bit darker and a little less hopeful.

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing when I first agreed to help him. It’s been a learning experience for both of us. But I know one thing for certain: that small, still voice telling me to offer my help was not my intuition, it was God’s voice, and I have seen His hand over and over this past year:  Billy signed with well known literary agent Rachelle Gardner, signed a two book deal with FaithWords, and has received generous praise for his debut novel, Snow Day, including the following from his childhood hero:

“Everybody needs a snow day! To slow down and take a breath of what is really important.” (Don Mattingly, 1985 American League MVP)

The latest bit of exciting news came last week. Billy sent me a link to FaithWords Fall/Winter catalog, which just so happens to have the cover art from Snow Day gracing its cover. Here’s the link:FaithWords Fall 2010/Winter 2011 catalog.

If you scroll through the entire catalog, you will find on page nine a description of first time author Billy Coffey’s novel Snow Day nestled between football legend James Brown’s new book and New York Times best selling author Philip Yancey latest offering. I’d say those guys are in very good company!

This is not a post about what I did to help out a struggling writer. Billy Coffey’s work is well deserving of all the attention it has received and will continue to receive. I write this because I want to challenge you. If you know someone who has a dream, and can’t seem to get over the hump by him or herself, offer to help them. If you believe in what they are doing, have compassion for their passion. You may just find, as I did, that helping others is a passion of your own.

“There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.” ~ Rusty Berkus

This post is part of the blog carnival on Compassion, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Dare you to move

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Do you remember the movie “The Truman Show”? It was a story about a man (played by Jim Carrey) whose entire life was a 24 hour a day reality show. Everyone in his life was in on the plot. Everyone, that is, except for Truman. Even though everyone goes to great lengths to conceal from him what’s really going on, he begins to suspect that he is playing a part. A part that he would have not scripted for himself.

Does your life feel like this sometimes? Do you feel like you’re playing a part for everyone else? Does it leave you feeling empty inside? Did you ever stop to consider that even though you’re doing everything everyone else is expecting of you, perhaps God had something else in mind for you? Something that goes against what you’ve always been lead to believe? Can you move beyond religion and move towards faith? Can you imagine beyond the constraints of your current situation? Can you trust that God can make sense of something you can’t seem to envision? I can. Because God can see far beyond what makes sense from our limited perspective.

I dare you to follow your passions

I dare you to lead with your heart

I dare you to believe that dreams can come true

I dare you to move

“Dare You To Move” by Switchfoot

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next
What happens next

[Chorus]
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
Tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

[Chorus]

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened before

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Emptiness. For more stories about emptiness, please visit my friend Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

Sufficient Grace

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“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

Through your pain

His grace is sufficient

Through your joy

His grace is sufficient

Through your suffering

His grace is sufficient

Through your triumphs

His grace is sufficient

Through your defeats

His grace is sufficient

Through your denial

His grace is sufficient

Through your feeble attempts to earn grace

His grace is sufficient

Through your self-righteousness

His grace is sufficient

Through your laughter

His grace is sufficient

Through your tears

His grace is sufficient

For his power is made perfect in weakness.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In case you’re wondering, is my favorite scripture.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Grace. For more stories about grace, please visit my friend Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

Trading my Sorrows


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I’m not much for happy, shiny Christian songs. Having said that, there’s something about Trading My Sorrows that helps me remember this passage from 2 Corinthians 4:8-12

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

I’m trading my sorrow
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

Chorus:
And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

***

I choose Joy

Yesterday I chose fear of the unknown
Today I choose trust
Yesterday I chose regret
Today I choose acceptance of a bigger plan
Yesterday I chose to cling to selfish love
Today I choose Love (big “L”)
Yesterday I chose to wallow in what could be
Today I choose whatever God’s will is for my life
Yesterday I chose sorrow
Today I choose Joy
Over fear, over doubt, over worry, over pain…
Today I chose Joy
And am praying that you choose Joy as well.

This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival: Joy hosted by Bridget Chumbley over at One Word at a Time. You should check it out. And tell her I said hey!

Self Control (or lack thereof)


I have heard myself described as outspoken. I will definitely agree with that assessment to a certain degree. But I also believe you can be outspoken without being a loud mouthed jerk, and hopefully I’m able to pull that off most of the time.

Believe it or not, despite my tendency towards sarcasm and outright snarkiness, there’s not much that hurts me more than knowing I’ve hurt someone else, even if it is unintentional.

Such was the case last week. I won’t go into specifics. Basically what happened is a friend sent me a link via twitter, I went to the site she linked and then immediately sent a very snarky tweet back to the friend who sent it to me. It was meant completely in jest, but had I exercised some self-control and put myself in the other person’s shoes, I would have realized how incredibly rude and insensitive I had been. The worst part? I didn’t realize I had hurt her feelings until I read a tweet she sent to another friend about it hours later.

What I wanted to do is find a dark hole, crawl inside and hide. What I did instead was send my friend several DM apologizing for being such a calloused jerk, to which she gracefully responded that she was being oversensitive. All the while this conversation is going on, I was also having a DM conversation with my other friend who was assuring me that everyone makes mistakes, and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. (This friend puts the “awe” in awesome, and I am so blessed to have her as a friend. There I was telling her what a jerk I was, and she’s trying to make me feel better.)

I’m going to be honest. This still bothers me. It still makes me cringe. Not because my friend hasn’t forgiven me, because she told me she has and I believe her.

It bothers me because I realize that the cruelty and insensitivity I despise so much in others is within me as well.

It’s a painful reminder of what a wretch I truly am, and just much I am in need of a Savior.

NOTE: This is not one of those posts where I tell you all how wretched I am in the hopes you will tell me that I’m not. I’m not looking for vindication or praise. I’m just trying to write honestly.

***

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Self-Control, hosted by my friend Bridget Chumbley. Be sure to check out some of the other posts. You won’t be disappointed.

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