Here they came again. The voices in my head that wouldn’t give it a rest. Voices that told me that I was a failure, that I was hopeless, that I could never be good enough, that I could never be lovable. Voices that reminded me of all my past mistakes and current character flaws, of all the nasty things I’d ever said and all the cringe-worthy moments I’d ever had. And the voice told me again, the phrase that echoed over and over again in my head: you’re worthless.
I know I’m not alone. Which of us haven’t had thoughts like this from time to time? Everyone struggles with self-doubt, with feelings of inferiority. Yet in our culture today, we are steeped with messages that scream the same thing at us: YOU’RE TOTALLY AMAZING!!! Just walk into your local teen clothing store or self-help book section, and you’ll see the message repeated over and over again: you’re an awesome, fantastic human being who is the absolute best. But if this is the case, why do we still deal with negative thoughts? In a world that constantly affirms us, why do a full 20% of teens struggle with chronic depression?
I believe the answer is simple: deep down, all of us know a simple truth. We are not awesome. We are not lovable, or great, or amazing. No matter what everyone tells us, deep down, we know just how horrible we are.
How’s that for a Depressing Thought of the Day? Honor, did you just tell me that I’m really a failure? How is that supposed to make me feel better?
Yup. I did. Don’t worry, though, I do have more positive thoughts for you. Yet I believe that no one can properly confront negative thoughts or low self-esteem without confronting one important truth:
We are all awful people.
We all know this from our personal lives – if people could see the thoughts going on in my head, or in the head of anyone, for that matter, we’d probably all be shocked. But it’s not just our personal experience that tells us this: Jeremiah 17:19 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
The culture we live in today never tells us this. Our culture tells us we’re absolutely grand. But we know we aren’t. Being told something you know is a lie can’t make you feel better. The mantra “you’re awesome” can’t speak to our deepest and darkest lies and sins.
So what can?
Is there a way out?
If the voices I hear in my head are right, is there really any hope?
There’s another important truth, a truth that has far more power than the voices of darkness and negativity that tend to plague us.
You are an amazing, valuable, lovable person.
Wait a minute: it seems like this post just got extremely self-contradictory. Didn’t I just say that we’re all awful, worthless people? Yes, I did, and I stick by it. Yet at the same time, we are amazing. Not because of anything we’ve done or we’re doing, mind you. Rather, it’s because of Someone and what He’s done for us. You see, the message of salvation is simple: God looked at us, the worthless, the unlovely, the hopeless, the sin-filled – and He loved us. Not because of anything we’d done, or any amazing character trait we possessed, but simply because of His amazing grace. And when He loved us, something amazing began to happen. We became lovely and glorious and wonderful because of Him. Christ took our failures and sins, our nastiness and worthlessness, and He bore it Himself. He died, to take the punishment for us. And in exchange, He gave us His righteousness. His perfect, glorious, sinlessness is now ours.
And this is the truth that can free us from depression. This is the truth that has power over our darkest thoughts. Yes, we are worthless. Yes, we are awful. Yes, we are unlovable.
But not anymore.
We are loved by God, and that makes us lovable. We are valued by Him, and that makes us valuable. We have Christ’s righteousness in us, and that makes us spotless and clean. As Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
We can’t help negative, self-doubting thoughts from creeping into our heads from time to time, and reminding us of our failures. But what we can control is our response. When the dark voices come, we need to remind ourselves of the truth. The truth that comes from confronting our worthlessness, and recognizing where our worth comes from. Christ’s spotless righteousness is now ours. There’s no need for doubt or condemnation.
This truth is incredibly freeing, and our response should be one of profound gratitude. And out of this gratitude, we can and should work to constantly improve, to constantly conform ourselves to the image of Christ.
So the next time the dark voices speak in your head – the next time you’re tempted to wallow in your own worthlessness – don’t. You’re not amazing in and of yourself, it’s true. Yet you are amazing because of Christ, who lives within you. Live like it. Believe it. Be transformed by it.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. -Galatians 2:20