Sheila Bridge - Inspire May 2010 -


Discovering how much God truly values us does wonders for our sense of self-worth, reveals SHEILA BRIDGE, author of How to Feel Good Naked

“It's totally changed the way I feel about myself!”

Every participant in every makeover show you’ve ever seen has uttered these words somewhere near the end of their experience.

I’ve been wondering what it takes for the rest of us to feel good about ourselves. What is it that gives us a sense of self-worth? Do we try a new look, a new diet or new fitness regime?

In my book I take a look at all three of these options and ask what works, what doesn’t work and what’s a waste of time or money. Here are my three top tips in brief:

  • Change the way you eat, but don’t diet.
  • Move your amazing body and celebrate what it can do.
  • Know the colours and styles that suit you and dress to express yourself rather than impress others.

That final tip is about what motivates us to look good. I think it’s a good thing to take care over our appearance, not because we are trying to impress others, but simply because we are expressing the value we know we have.

The trouble is not everyone believes they have value. We live in a world where our worth is judged by appearance, income, influence and popularity. And we are not immune from this process.

We have been conditioned to rank, rate or score people. Surf the TV channels and you can award points to would-be singers and amateur cooks; you can even give brides marks out of 10 for their own wedding!

All of this undermines our sense of self-worth. We are left wondering how we might measure up.

Towards the end of my book, I take a look at the places we look for self-worth. I suggest we all look in one of three places: inside, alongside or outside.

‘Looking inside’ is what Whitney Houston meant when she sang that “Learning to love yourself … is the greatest love of all”. In other words, if you can tell yourself a hundred times a day that you are a “wonderful, brilliant, creative, funny human being” then you might begin to believe it.

I don’t know about you, but this feels a bit self-absorbed. I have to “search for the hero inside myself” and some days I don’t feel very heroic.

People who look inside believe that if only they are brave enough, bold enough, determined enough then they will succeed. But this isn’t true. We do not always succeed. No amount of skill, learning or self-confidence can protect us from random distressing events that can totally derail our lives.

What’s more, when you know you are bad-tempered, self-centred or unkind, it’s not very helpful to be told that the solution is to look in a mirror and say nice things to yourself.

Looking inside doesn’t really work so most of us take the second option: we look alongside. We gain our sense of self-worth from what other people think of us; if they seem to like us then we usually like ourselves. And there is nothing wrong with this principle.

In an ideal world it ought to work, but the reality is many of us look alongside and wonder: “who loves me, who accepts me or who will even just notice me?” Being noticed is a poor substitute for being loved but in a world short on affirmation, many will settle for it.

The trouble with this option is that other people’s views are inconsistent. So I argue that we need to look outside ourselves and hear the truth from someone who is objective.

The ‘someone’ I have suggested is God himself. But brace yourself because you’re not just going to hear the good stuff. “Jesus loves me so I feel good” is not the whole story. God loves me, therefore I can find the courage to change.

How to Feel Good Naked is about changing how we look based on the worth that God says we have. In Colossians 3:12-14 we are encouraged to put on a whole new wardrobe and the item you should never be without is ‘love’.

We are instructed to ‘wear’ it, (one translation calls it our ‘basic all-purpose garment’). In other words, God invites us to clothe ourselves in his love.

Knowing ourselves to be deeply, unreservedly loved – now that could “totally change the way I feel about myself”.

  • To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Sheila's book, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Inspire (May). Find one at a church near you, or click the Order button to ensure you have a regular copy delivered through your door.

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