Your Self Image Affects Your Destiny
By Terri Savelle Foy
When I was in college taking a Psychology class, the professor asked each of us to get out a sheet of paper and draw a picture of the way we see ourselves. Everyone had to do this. So, I began by drawing my round head, and then added gigantic, bulging frog eyes that took up the whole face (with long eyelashes, of course)! The nose and lips weren’t that big of a focus. As I began to draw the body, I drew bony, emaciated-looking arms and wrists but massive, huge thighs that covered each side of the paper! Then, my knees are knock-kneed so my legs were drawn almost looking like a contortionist going inward toward each other! Then I grabbed a red pen and started just putting dots all over the drawing. The guy next to me said, “You OK?” I said, “Uh-huh. Just fine.” He said, “What’s all that?” I said, “My freckles!” and I hammered away!
When I held the drawing up, I looked a little bit like a freak! Which was the professor’s point exactly: your self-image may be distorted!
What is your self-image? Your self-image is simply a portrait you carry around of yourself. It’s how you see yourself and how you think others see you.
Just like those distorted mirrors at the amusement parks, Satan loves to distort the truth and convince you to believe it! From the moment you are born, he works overtime to try to convince you that you are unloved, unwanted, insignificant, fat, ugly, deformed, crazy, worthless! He wants your self-image distorted. WHY? Because if you have a poor self-image, you’ll never be confident enough to do what God put you on this earth to do.
*According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 4 Americans are diagnosed each year with a psychological disorder, the majority for which low self-esteem and a poor self-image are underlying factors.
The truth is that once you’ve accepted a poor identity – once that poor self-image is accepted – you make choices that support your beliefs about yourself. Your self-image can be seen in the way you dress, the way you talk about yourself, the relationships you choose, your career, your relationship with God…every area of your life is affected by your self-image.
You behave in a manner consistent with how you see yourself.
If you see yourself as having no value and no worth, then you’ll make decisions that agree with that sense of no self-worth. I read a story about a guy named Victor who, at 15 years old, was told by his teacher that he wouldn’t amount to much and that he should drop out of school and learn a trade. Because he was told he was an idiot, he acted like one for the next 17 years! Then, when he was 32 years old, he found out he had an IQ of 161. Since discovering how smart he really was, he has written books, secured several patents, become a successful businessman and chairman of the Mensa Society, which has the qualification of an IQ of 140 or higher!
You behave in a manner consistent with how you see yourself.
Why would you have a poor self-image?
1. words spoken over you (by parents, teachers, coaches, peers)
2. abandonment by parents or spouse
4. abuse (physical, verbal, sexual, emotional)
6. comparison to a sibling
7. turmoil in the home
8. marriage rejection, unfaithfulness
10. being made fun of or talked down to
and the list goes on….
Satan will use whatever situation he can to INSTILL a poor sense of self-worth. Why? If you don’t value yourself, no one else will either.
When I was a youth pastor, I invited all the teenage girls over to my house one night to talk to them about their self-image. I held up this fresh, cold Coke drizzling with ice and asked, “Who wants the first sip?” Everyone raised their hands. “I do. I want the first sip.” I gave it to one girl and she took a big gulp. Then, I said, “Pass it to your best friend.” She took a sip. Then, she passed it to her friend. About 5 girls later, I got the Coke back and noticed there was about one “swig” left. I said, “OK. Who wants the last little sip?” They all yelled, “That’s disgusting. It’s backwash!” Nobody wanted the left over.
I said, “Many times we see ourselves as this Coke can. We’ve been passed around from guy to guy, from relationship to relationship, from abuse to abuse, used up, washed up, nobody wants me, I’ve lost all my value and my worth. What do I have to offer anyone?” The point was well-taken. We assume we’re not valuable because of the experiences of our past, the words that have been spoken over us, so we behave in a manner consistent with how we see ourselves. We dress that way. We act that way. We talk that way. We choose friends who agree with our negative opinion of ourselves. And we don’t expect God to really bless us or use us in any meaningful way.
You believe yourself more than anyone.
If you have low self-esteem, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says to you, how many compliments you receive, awards you are given or church services you attend, if you don’t believe in yourself – you’ll never change.
T.D. Jakes says, “You can’t take a person who feels ugly about themselves and make them feel lovely.” He said, “They cannot retain the encouragement because they are leaking from the inside. Only the Word of God will get down on the inside of your soul and fix the plumbing so you can retain what God has placed in you.” Only the Word of God can change a poor self-image into the image of God.
Do you realize that from the time you were born Satan has had a plan to stop you from the plan of God for your life? It’s not haphazard or coincidental. It’s strategic and on purpose. Why? Because he does not want you to fulfill God’s plan for your life! He wants his plan for your life fulfilled: kill, steal and destroy (your self-image).
“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” – Jeremiah 1:5 (NCV)
God needs you. He wants to use you. He has a special plan and purpose, an assignment, for you to fulfill during your time on Earth. You don’t have time to waste. Maybe you’ve been abused – and never told anyone. Maybe you were wounded, rejected, abandoned, violated. Maybe you’re consumed with guilt over your past: you had sex before marriage, you got pregnant, you had an abortion, you let yourself down. Don’t let Satan paint a picture in your mind of who you were back then. If you’ve repented of your mistakes, then you’ve been made a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things have passed away and all things have become new . . . including your self-image!
MAY YOU STAY IN ONE PLACE . . . FOREVER!
I was reading a book the other day that told a story about a tribe from Asia who would yell curses at their enemies. The worst curses that they could possibly think of were not, “May your swords rust and you die of a disease!” Instead, they would yell, “May you stay in one place forever!”
That’s exactly what Satan is yelling in your mind: May you stay in one place for the rest of your life! He wants you to stay locked in an experience of rejection, abuse, violation, intimidation forever! Why? Because ultimately, it distorts your self-image crippling you from ever doing what God wants you to do with your life. I speak from experience.
Because of the different things I’ve been through in my life, I had such a poor self-image, very insecure and inferior, and it didn’t matter what my parents told me, how “popular” I was in school or how many sermons I heard at church, I saw myself a certain way and that was final in my mind! It wasn’t until I began to fill my mind, I mean taking drastic steps to fill my mind, with God’s love for me, that I began to change from the inside out.
General Douglass McArthur said one of the most important rules of war is to know your enemy! You need to know, first of all, who you are fighting. Satan! He’s the thief who has stolen your identity and distorted your self-image. You can’t stay mad at the people who hurt you for the rest of your life. You have to get mad at the right enemy or else you’re in a losing battle. Once you’ve discovered that Satan is the one behind every touch of evil in your life, then you can target all of your pain towards him! How? Get on a quest to know God more intimately than you ever have before! Why is that? Because God’s love will drive fear right out of your life. Insecurity, inferiority, and a poor self-image are all rooted in fear. God’s love will completely, 100% transform your self-image into the image and likeness of Jesus. Only God’s love can heal you everywhere you hurt and help you develop godly confidence!
You can’t change yourself but you can seek the ONE who can change you!
I’m convinced that transformation can only happen in that private place in your life when it’s just you and God. Being in God’s presence transforms us. Healing takes place in His presence from all those wounds and scars from your past. Taking that step to get in His presence and learn to receive His love is something only you can do. Nobody can do it for you.
James 4:7-8 says, “Draw near unto God and He will draw near unto you.” You take a step closer to God and He’ll take a step closer to you. He’s just waiting on you to come to Him. He will wrap His arms around you and never let you go (unless you fight for the right to be on your own!). He wants to tell you how much He loves you. Other people may not love you, but He does!
You need to get alone somewhere in your house and just start saying out of your mouth, “Thank You, Father, for loving me.” Start confessing it even if you don’t feel very lovable. After a while, it will drop from your head to your heart and you’ll begin to hear God say it Himself. He loves you. He created you. He forgives you. He’s not mad at you. He knows why you’ve done what you’ve done. He’s made you the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. And He has a special work, a unique assignment, He fully expects you to carry out. Remember this: God can’t use you publicly until you have gotten victory privately. Get alone with God and let Him completely transform your self-image.
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For years, Terri Savelle Foy’s life was average. She had no dreams to pursue. Each passing day was just a repeat of the day before. Finally, with a marriage in trouble and her life falling apart, Terri made a change. She began to pursue God like never before, develop a new routine and discovered the power of having a dream and purpose.
As Terri started to recognize her own dreams and goals, she simply wrote them down and reviewed them consistently. This written vision became a roadmap to drive her life. As a result, those dreams are now a reality.
Terri has become the CEO of an international Christian ministry. She is an author, a conference speaker, and a success coach to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Her best-selling books Make Your Dreams Bigger than Your Memories, and Imagine Big have helped people discover how to overcome the hurts of the past and see the possibilities of a limitless future. Her weekly podcast is a lifeline of hope and inspiration to people around the world.
Terri Savelle Foy is a cheerleader of dreams and is convinced that “if you can dream it, God can do it.” She is known across the globe as a world-class motivator of hope and success through her transparent and humorous teaching style. Terri’s unique ability to communicate success strategies in a simple and practical way has awakened the dreams of the young and old alike.
Terri shares from personal experience the biblical concepts of using the gift of the imagination to reach full potential in Jesus Christ. From stay-at-home moms to business executives, Terri consistently inspires others to go after their dreams. With step-by-step instruction and the inspiration to follow through, people are fueled with the passion to complete their life assignment down to the last detail (see John 17:4).
Terri and her husband, Rodney Foy, have been married since 1991, and are the parents of a beautiful redheaded daughter, Kassidi Cherie. They live near Dallas, Texas. For more information about Terri, go to www.terri.com.