Feelings of inferiority haunt millions of singles. They go through life believing they're not good enough, that they don't measure up to certain standards.
If you feel that way, I can empathize. I spent many years putting myself down. It was painful and self-defeating, but I discovered a few basic truths along the way that helped me not only break this bad habit but see myself as God sees me.
Let me stress I'm no psychologist or guru. On this site I try to pass along what I learned through tough trial and error. Maybe it won't stick with you if you don't experience that hurt firsthand. Some people are stubborn, refusing to listen to geezers like me. I hope, instead, you will give these life-lessons serious consideration and see if they make sense.
That said, let's jump into it.
When we're born, we're a blank slate. We don't feel inferior or superior to others. As we grow up, hundreds of influences affect our self-talk, those nonstop monologues that go on in our mind.
For many years I considered myself a bad luck person. I interpreted my failures, blunders, and disappointments as some kind of curse I was under. It sounds stupid now, but I don't think I was unusual in seeing my life that way. It's fairly common to beat yourself up.
The odd part was that I had loving, encouraging parents. They never put me down. I got good grades and later was competent on my job. For whatever reasons, I fixated on my failures, blowing them out of proportion.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Several church traditions use guilt and shame to control their members. It's almost like religious blackmail: Do what we tell you or you'll go to hell. That's scary! And if you hear that when you're an impressionable child, it sinks in and can damage you for the rest of your life.
Shame is a powerful emotion. Tragically, some authority figures use it like a whip. People are cowed into obeying, but for the wrong reasons. When a person struggles under such accusations, they usually do one of two things.
Some stay right where they are, convinced they're inferior and worthless. Others study their situation and rebel.
When it comes to church, many of those rebels leave and never come back. They give up on church for the rest of their life. In my case, I changed churches.
I had studied the Bible all my life, and the Holy Spirit gradually revealed to me (as he does with all sincere Bible readers) that what was going on in my life was not scriptural. I had a seriously skewed picture of Jesus and what he thinks of me.
Once I got into a Bible-based church, I saw Jesus in a different light. I learned the truth about him. He does not see you and me as filthy sinners he can hardly tolerate. No, he loves us. He died on the cross because his love for us is so great.
Someone pointed out to me that in his letters in the Bible, the apostle Paul addresses fellow Christians as "saints." He recognizes they sin and have an inherited sinful nature, but he preaches the love and forgiveness of God.
You and I are saints; saints-in-training, maybe, but saints nonetheless. We can get rid of guilt by confessing our sins quickly, repenting, then knowing God forgives sins completely.
Here's another truth to remember: You cannot disappoint God. An all-loving being who knows the future is never surprised and never has unrealistic expectations of you.
Okay, you may realize God doesn't hate you, but what about other shortcomings? What if you feel inferiority because you're not good at anything? What if you don't have any recognizable talent? What if you're ashamed of your home or your job? What if you're disabled or not happy with your appearance? What if bad things keep happening to you?
This is where the primacy of God comes in. That's a fancy way of saying when you put God first in your life, he opens your eyes on other things.
I had desires. I had dreams that went by the wayside, but the more I studied the Bible and prayed, the clearer my understanding became.
Yes, there were heartbreaks, but gradually I saw that an intimate relationship with Jesus is the greatest goal in life, and what's more, it's possible for everyone, including you.
No, I was not using religion or God for a crutch, as some atheists accuse Christians. Over time I began to have new dreams, new desires much more exciting than the old ones, because they're God-centered.
Looking back, I now see some of my goals were not only impractical, they were foolish. I was too immature to realize it at the time. And there have been some instances where God has spared me a lot of suffering by withholding things from me.
Hey, I'm not talking about marriage here. I still can't figure that out, but that's a subject for a whole other article!
If inferiority feelings are a problem for you, be aware it doesn't have to take half a lifetime to overcome them, as it did for me.
When you grasp that your true sense of worth comes from your relationship with Christ, you're on the path that leads to godly confidence. That doesn't mean you have to give up your other goals and desires, just that it's not the end of the world if you can't achieve them.
Remember: Jesus Christ is not a consolation prize!
I've said that many times over the years. When you put God in first place, other things assume their proper importance.
If you take time to consider it, how many people have you met in your lifetime who closely resemble Jesus Christ in their character? They're exceedingly rare! Which leads me to believe it's more of a challenge to be like Jesus than it is to climb Mount Everest or win Olympic gold or become a billionaire. Nothing wrong with those desires, except that they're worldly goals and will always be menial compared to an intimate relationship with God.
In closing, I had to learn that experiencing close fellowship with Jesus is not a competition either. We can't try to be "more saintly" than anyone else, and when we're not, exchange one type of inferiority feeling for another.
Be wise. Your relationship with God is unique. It grows as fast as God wants. As it gets deeper and deeper, you'll discover, as I did, that it's what you were looking for all along. And as it grows, your sense of inferiority shrinks, replaced by godly humility and the knowledge you are powerfully loved. And you are all right.
Sometimes we're shy because we feel we're not as good as others.
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