Author Topic: Self-esteem  (Read 1420 times)

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Offline emidesu

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« on: January 23, 2006, 11:21:28 PM »

I'm engaged to a Copt and studying to convert.  However, one thing that bothers me in Orthodoxy is what strikes me as self-abnegation.  I've spent many years developing my own judgement and confidence after being plagued with depression and low self-esteem.  I recognize that I am a great sinner and that I know nothing compared with God, yet if I don't trust my own perceptions and judgements it seems to me that I am left a depressed, ineffectual pushover.  How does one reconcile the Orthodox view of oneself as, essentially, nothing, with psychological health?

Offline choirfiend

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Re: Self-esteem
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 01:29:31 AM »
I think great humility is not to be equated with a loss of self-worth. God loves you enough to have died for you, after all. That kind of love is self-affirming. Additionally, Orthodoxy's emphasis on brotherhood and love for the fellow man is a sure way out of depression. Nothing cures depression (I have been told) like honestly caring for others and forgetting about self-focus for a while.

Of course one must still act on their own judgments (except where one is inquiring of and pledging to carry out the discernment of a spiritual advisor). Appealing to God for HIS will instead of yours, HIS judgment instead of your own, brings you closer to Him and is in your best interest, so recognizing that one's own desires and choices may be biased and looking to God for the best choice is better.
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Offline emidesu

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Re: Self-esteem
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 01:40:40 AM »
Thanks, that's helpful...

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Self-esteem
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2006, 05:44:12 AM »
A one hundred dollar bill, whether we place is on a velvet cushion on top of a pedestal or place it on a dung heap is still worth $100 to it's owner. Christ is our owner, and we are worth more to Him than all the wealth in the world- whether we sit on a velvet cushion on a pedestal or sit on a dung heap.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Self-esteem
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 07:00:58 AM »
[bible]Genesis 1:26-28[/bible]
[bible]Genesis 2:7[/bible]

When we are in communion with the Living God, we are His Living Breath and the crown of His creation.  When we have fallen, this status as His Living Breath is still within our potential - it is our ideal state.  This is the purpose of our lives - to restore our relationship to God that is so intimate.  When we as Orthodox say that we are nothing, it is with the understanding that without God working in us and through us we are merely dust from the ground (so to speak).  But when we allow the Living God to operate within us, then we are capable of anything in His will.

[bible]Matthew 10:8[/bible]
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Offline GeorgeS

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Re: Self-esteem
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2006, 03:38:11 PM »

The church always speaks of sin, pride, and the passions of a human, calling him a servant of God. How does this reconcile with the understanding of human dignity in society?

The Church does not share the humanistic view that man is the crowning value of the world, or as the measure of all things, nor as an independent king and conqueror. The Church sees the dignity of man within the image and likeness of God in which he was made by the Creator. In the image that is expressed in free will, thought, capability of word, and in a likeness which must be understood as a consistent spiritual growth in Christ. In the letters of St. Ambrose of Optina there are the wonderful words of St. Peter of Athos, “God saves us not without us”, in other words not without our own responsive efforts. The Church knows how difficult — with blood, sweat, and tears — this battle is to fight. The two thousand year experience of Christian life witnesses to us that without humility, without the help of God’s grace, it is impossible to be saved. From here comes a constant reminder to man how little he can do on his own. Outside of the vessel of the Church, in which one swims to salvation, it is impossible to swim across the ocean of this world, no matter how proudly man thinks of himself.