Learn to See Yourself as God Sees You

Written by Andrea Groenewald

How do you see yourself? Pause for a moment and think about it. What thoughts have you had about yourself today?

As women, so many of us find ourselves:

  • basing our self-worth on how others see us and on our accomplishments
  • feeling shame from our past
  • defining our value based on our looks
  • setting unrealistic standards for ourselves

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If only we could see ourselves as God sees us!

I want to look with you at three thought patterns that can act as roadblocks to thinking– and living- the way God desires for us. These destructive thought patterns were identified by prominent psychologist, Albert Ellis (1973). We will contrast these ideas with what 1 Peter 1 tells us about how we can “prepare our minds for action.” Adjusting our thinking to Scripture is the foundation for “be[ing] holy in all we do.” (1 Peter 1:15b)

1. “I must be loved or approved by virtually every significant other person in my life.”

If we are living to make sure that others love us, we give them permission to evaluate us based what we do – we give people the power to determine our self-worth.

Living to please our parents

Even when we leave home, we have “internalized parents” who are now voices in our heads that tell us what we should do, what is important and how we should do things. Have you ever been in a situation where you have to make a decision and you can hear your parents saying, “That’s not responsible… or “I told you that would happen?”

Living to be loved by a man

Many of us are so concerned that we are loved by a man, that we give the opposite sex permission to evaluate our self-worth. As adolescents, girls might sacrifice their own identity to get the attention and acceptance of guys, even to the extent of pretending not to be bright or athletic, because they think guys won’t like it. Or, they might deny themselves food to lose weight to try to fit in with the body image that seems to be portrayed in women’s magazines. Even as adults, we buy the beauty myth, thinking that our appearance is our number one asset, and what will bring us acceptance and approval from our spouse. Eating disorders abound — anorexia, bulimia, and the number one eating disorder today, binge eating.

Living to please our church community

We may even feel pressure from our church community to measure ourselves according to a certain image — to be nurturing, quiet and gentile, to raise well-behaved children, and maybe even do crafts. If we live to please our church community, we may find ourselves negating interests or even gifts that God has given us.

God’s truth

Our identity is found in Jesus Christ. It is rooted in the freedom-giving mercy of Jesus Christ. Our identity is that of a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Our spiritual inheritance is one of forgiveness, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and hope of spending all eternity enjoying fellowship with God. It is this truth that gives us unconditional love, intimacy, security and hope. And it is not based on our identity, but on what God has already accomplished at the cross of Jesus Christ.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

2. “My past history is an all-important determiner of my present behavior and because something once strongly affected my life, it should definitely continue to do so.”

You may have had something happen to you which you have not told anyone, or only a few people. Perhaps you feel shame about certain aspects of the family you grew up in, or maybe you have sinful habits which you feel embarrassed about, such as gossiping, lusting, pornography or criticizing others. Maybe you have done some things in your past you are ashamed of (an abortion, an affair). Or maybe something has been done to you that you feel ashamed of (sexual assault, emotional abuse). Approximately 30-40% of women experience some kind of sexual assault in their life; 30% experience physical abuse.

If we don’t deal with issues in our past, they will continue to control us in some way in our present. But they don’t have to. We can deal with past sin, our family histories, as well as past violations to our bodies and minds.

It is important to identify whether what we are feeling in these situations is destructive shame or healthy guilt. Healthy guilt always separates our identity and our behavior. Shame links these two, so wrong behavior taints our image of ourselves. Healthy guilt alerts us to the fact that we have done something against our internalized values.

Biblical guilt is a God-given emotion that “red flags” a behavior and tells us it is an act of rebellion against God. It spurs us to confess our sin and experience the love and forgiveness that God has provided for us through Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After we’ve confessed our sin, feelings of guilt are not from God, but may be from ourselves or from the Evil One. Now, we still have to live with the consequences of our sin, but God does not punish us for our sin. God disciplines us to get us back on track so we can continue to experience God’s love and plan for our lives. Our struggles can bring us closer to God and heighten our faith as we experience His faithfulness in forgiving us and drawing us closer to Himself.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proven genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

3. “I should be thoroughly competent, adequate and achieving in all possible respects in order to consider myself worthwhile.”

One quarter of women will struggle with clinical depression in their lifetime. Depression can be biological or situational, and often can be the result of both. However, one of the leading causes of depression is having your standards so high that you cannot live up to them. You are constantly striving for a standard that is unattainable, but you wear yourself out trying anyway. One of the messages that can play over and over in our minds is that we have to “be perfect.”

As women, we often fall into the trap of feeling responsible not just for ourselves, but the lives of others, whether our co-workers, friends, children, or husband. We take on the weight of everyone’s world!

It is often difficult for us to separate our identity from our behavior. We feel if we don’t measure up, it reflects on who we are as individuals.

God’s truth

God’s grace, “charis,” is a gift. It is through God’s grace that He heals us and brings freedom to live a new life. Sometimes grace does not come easily to us. We have to work at changing our thinking to cut ourselves some slack. We need to humble ourselves to accept God’s grace and give grace to ourselves when we don’t measure up.

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care” (1 Peter 1:10).

Removing the roadblocks

  1. Identify which roadblock affects you most.
  2. Think of new ways to look at that situation and thought pattern that would be more helpful to you.
  3. Whenever you recognize that pattern of thinking or behaving, interrupt it and substitute your new way of thinking and behaving.

We need to try to begin to align our view of ourselves with God’s view of us. God uses various metaphors to describe His love and care for us, that of a nursing mother, a nurturing mother, a loving father, a shepherd, etc. Here are some verses to meditate on:

  • Jeremiah 1:5
  • Matthew 10:28-31
  • 1 Peter 5:7

Once we extend grace to ourselves, we will be able to live a life of extending grace to those around us, both those in the church community and those outside. We need to take our lives back from trying to live up to these distorted beliefs and line our thinking up with the way God views us. Instead of being so focused on ourselves and our own failure, we will be able to extend a helping hand to those around us and be God’s vessel of grace to those we come into contact with wherever we go.

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20 Responses to “Learn to See Yourself as God Sees You”

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Bill,
    I’m glad to hear that this article helped you! We all have arguments in our marriages, but we need to go back and remind ourselves what the truth is and what the lies are. Once we have identified those we can move on. Talk to your wife…be open and honest and commit yourselves to walking through the tough stuff and your marriage will only grow stronger with time!

  • Bill says:

    It was nice to read that tonite.At just 7 months of marriage we’ve just had a terrible argument.I feel like a piece of old paper underneath a huge amount of trash.Pure garbage.I was just thinking about the worst, if you know what I mean.But your words helped me see that there’s a way out of the anguish and sorrow I am feeling right now.
    Thanks.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    great article its also important to see yourself as God sees you and how you see others as God sees them

  • Dr. Diana says:

    Andrea Groenewald, you have written really good thoughts in this article. You have a great spiritual knowledge. I am also trying to provide information to people regarding spiritual things like prayers, great thoughts etc.

    ~Diana

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    I am a perfectionist as you, Sheri, say you are. I’ve come to realize that my critical self-talk is actually detestable to God, for He gave me the ability to be careful and exacting where that is needed. What I find I’m now learning is to know when to be meticulous and exacting, and when it just does not matter. Also, I must never impose the same degree of perfection on anyone else, for each person is different, and everyone needs approval and recognition for what they do.
    As mature adults we need not try to be what we think others think we should be! But as the author of this article pointed out, we need look for the gifting that God has given us, and see how that fits in for God’s plan for our lives. Sometimes I find this a day-by-day or even an hour-by-hour adventure. You said it so well, Sheri: “That little word “I”, betrays the fact that we are still too self-centered. When will I be so yielded and trusting God so completely as to serve others without thinking of myself? What will it take for me to “sell all I have and all I am” to be all-out for Christ, that is, to give all in order to buy that “Pearl-Of-Great-Price”?
    Heavenly Father, we thank You for helping us to realize that it is not we who are so great, but YOU working through us that makes a positive difference in this world. Thank you for affirming our value when we serve you wholeheartedly. In Jesus name, Amen.

  • Mary Pinckney M. Pinckney says:

    Jennifer and Sheri,
    Thank you both so much for sharing. It is so good to know that this article blessed you. I want to encourage you to continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord. Feel free to contact one of our mentors for more one-on-one interaction. http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor.

    I would like to pray for you both. Father, thank you for my sisters. I pray that you will continue to reveal yourself to them in a great and a might way. I ask that you will grant them the grace to see themselves through your eyes. Allow them to know their worth and value lies in You. Show yourself strong and faithful in their lives In Jesus name. Amen
    Blessings to you! Mary

  • jennifer says:

    one thing that led me to this site was the question How can i see myself as God sees me…. i was reading Ray C Stedman’s sermon series called “From Guilt to Glory” Please read his sermons in this series as it was very helpful to me and so was this message here…

  • Sheri says:

    An excerpt from my journal entry dated today, 12-13-13;

    “How can a Christian be full of so much anger, bitterness, resentment, envy, confusion, doubt, worry, fear, sadness, hopelessness, despair and too many other sins I can’t even name? Your Word says to love my neighbor as myself. I can’t think of one day I’ve been able to keep that command. I think that’s the problem. That little word “I”. I don’t think I am fully trusting Christ to complete the work He started in me. Somehow I still believe I must earn His love, perform just so, or get it just right.”

    I live in a perpetual state of failure. Perfection is the proverbial carrot dangling on the end of a string, just out of my grasp. This past spring, I became aware of the fact I had unknowingly bestowed the same critical spirit my mother passed on to me to my 15 year old daughter, who by the way is currently ranked first in her Sophomore class. Though tears of agony, she confessed to me that she dreaded coming home because she could never do enough to please me. By God’s grace, I somehow heeded that wake up call and was able to stop tearing her down and began to build her up instead. I have yet to be able to do the same for myself. I covet your prayers and any resources you have to offer. Thank you for your willingness to be used by God to those who are hurting. For that I am truly grateful.

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God
    Lord I lift up Keyanna to You and all who are going though a rough time, that they will lean on You for Your grace and mercy that You love to give to Your children. In Jesus Mighty name amen

  • Keyanna says:

    I’m really thankful for this post. I have always lived to please my parents and everyone else, so much that I forgot about myself. I want to see myself as God sees me but I struggle daily to find what he sees. I want to be closer to The Lord and I definitely don’t want anymore roadblocks. This post has helped me look at my thought life. Thank you so much! God bless!

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Linda, thanks for posting some encouragement. God’s word is living and active.

  • Learn to see yourself as God sees you….deep….very powerful!! This will help anybody who struggles with these issues of life, help them to break strongholds of the evil one. Thank you for the Word of God! This is very important!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Robert, I am glad you found this helpful. Can I also recommend a site that connects who we are in Jesus Christ with verses in scripture. It is so helpful to have the truth of God to combat the lies that Satan would want us to buy into. You can find the list at http://www.ficm.org/index.php?command=textwhoamiinchrist.

    Lord God I pray for Robert and thank You for the way that You have created him. I pray that he would discover a better understanding of Your perspective of who he is and ignore the negative messages that have had dominance in his mind lately. Thank You for the Truth of Scripture that helps our perspective of the world. Amen.

  • Robert says:

    Hi,

    There is more to this/my story, but not knowing how much space I have for my comments, this will be a “Long story/short”. I am a man who has a problem with his looks. I consider myself as UGLY. I shared this with my small group. One of the members (a sister) suggested looking in the mirror and repeating Bible verses of how God sees me. She also said that I must not only believe it, but have it in my heart. I googled “how God sees me” and other different key words and found your website. I realized this website is for my sisters in Christ, but some men have the same problem “My perception of myself”. I find your information vital and will read it with a fine-tooth-comb. I will pass your website onto my church family. Thank you for allowing me to share. Thank you!

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good artilce i am learnimg to see myself as God sees me i am also learning to see others as God sees them it is difficult but i am learning

  • hadassah says:

    Late tonight i had a headache so i opened up my bible an also googled my thoughts. Wow this site is a blessing

  • Makenna says:

    Thank you for this article which has expressed the angst many women suffer and cannot come to terms with. The Lord created us in His image and any alternative is practicing sin. Having said that, our battle with the enemy is in controlling our thoughts and self-perception. Thanks and God bless you big!

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  • Kathe says:

    this was an excellent piece. it really addressed the issues I’m facing right now as a young woman. I’m inspired to get to know God in an intimate way and focus on a relationship with him instead of my inadequacies. I know that in my weakness he is made strong. Thank You.

  • Elisha says:

    Thankyou. i really needed to read that this morning. Especially who i am in christ not who i am through people… i know i need to practise extending grace to myself so that i can understand extending grace to those who hurt me and not becoming captive to those hurts.

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