Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who Says I'm a Failure?

As I was training for my Masters Degree in Social Work I learned about Freudian concepts, as well cognitive therapy. Very little was taught about the role of siblings, peers, and school teachers in the development of our self-esteem. Currently, it is recognized that our siblings play an important role in our self-image and self esteem.

I don’t know how old I was when my sister told me I was fat. That wasn't true, but for an entire year I refused to wear shorts. I didn't want anyone to see my “fat” legs.  As I look at pictures from that time in my life, I feel a sense of sorrow that I believed what my sister said rather than what was obvious to the eye when looking at my pictures. I was a very skinny child whose body image was messed up because my sister decided to tease me by telling me I was fat. Unfortunately I believed her rather than the reflection I saw in the mirror.

She was the smart one in the family. Her teachers enjoyed having her in the classroom. I was very different. It was a disaster for me to be in class if a teacher had experience teaching my sister before me. Undoubtedly, the teacher would make an unfavorable comparison more than once during my time with that teacher. It didn't take long for me to resent both my sister and my teachers.

While I hated the comparisons the fact was my sister was consistently an A student, while I struggled to get C's and D's. Beginning in Kindergarten, I learned the best way for me to get attention was to act out in class. Rather than receiving praise from teachers, my teachers devised special punishment dittos I had complete after school in detention. My experience with detentions began in Elementary School and continued throughout High School.

Many of my teachers made it clear they didn't like me. I remember one teaching telling me she wished I’d get sick so she wouldn't have to see me in her class. From Elementary School through High School  I was a very slow learner. I was put in special classes for slow students. In High School, while all my friends were deciding on what college to attend, my adviser told me I wasn't college material. She suggested I forget about college and learn a trade.

My friends were academically brilliant. They were all A students in Elementary School, High School & in College. I was the dumbest kid in my peer group.  My friends did what kids do, they teased and reminded me of this fact many times throughout the majority of my Elementary and High School life.

These experiences had a profound effect on my self-esteem. Even though I went to college and graduated with honors when I received my Bachelor’s Degree and my Masters Degree, I attributed my success to taking easy classes rather than believe I’d earned those honors. I always considered myself an academic dummy.

I've come to believe all of us have a committee in our heads. Most of the members of our committee are  siblings, peers, teachers, parents, and a few people who for better or worse had a major impact on our lives.

If you were blessed with the capacity to get good grades, had a skill that was valued, or had the status of being in a high valued peer group, the chances are you have some fans on your committee. They are the ones  who believed in you, who encouraged you or  had a positive impact on your life. These committee members  provide you with positive feedback and encouragement when you need it.

From the other direction, if you did poorly in school, were in a low status peer group, or had family members who were highly critical, abusive, or absent in your life, the chances are that the majority of your committee members are not your fans. In fact they consist of a group of individuals who are highly critical of who you are and what you do. They are your detractors who never have anything positive to say.

My committee recently held a meeting after a week went by without selling a single copy of my book I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? on the Amazon website. I was surprised to hear from committee members that I fired long ago. I wrote down some of their remarks.

Committee member #1 said “I told you not to write that book.” #2 said “I warned you that you’d lose a lot of money if you self published your book.” #3 said “You're not smart enough to write a book, why would you think anyone would read something you wrote?

Then I heard from the Chairman of the board. He had the most to say. Here’s the summary of His remarks:
He began by saying well done good and faithful servant. If you didn't sell a single copy of your book, I’d still be well pleased because you were faithful writing down the ideas I gave to you. We both know your book won two awards this year and it will win a third award before the year is out.  Your on-line diary has received more than 40,000 page views. Your blog has more than 5,000 page views.  Your website receives more than a thousand page views a month. Your Pre-Surgery Forum and Post-Surgery Forum set a record number of visits when 100 people visited the forums in a 24 hour period this week. You've received more than 90 likes on your author Facebook page and the number of page likes grows higher every day. If you examine your website and book statistics you'll notice you are helping people with prostate cancer in this country and  around the world.

It's important for you to understand, the awards you've received, the amount of  people you reached, or the number of books you've sell does not determine your success or failure in my eyes.  It makes no difference to Me whether you sell one book or a million books. What matters to me is whether whether or not you've been faithful and obedient carrying out the mission I've placed in your heart.

Therefore, give up your worldly definitions of success and accept what's really important, My blessing and approval.  I know you've invested a lot of your money in this ministry. I've asked you to leave comfort zone many times. It was necessary to take risks and develop new skills in order to spread the word about the ways in which I can help others cope with prostate cancer.  I'm pleased with all that you've done in My name.

I was grateful to receive that message from  the Chairman of my board.  If you've got too many critical board members on your committee, or you'd know you need a new Chairman of the Board, this Bible verse is for you:

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (Cor 5:17-18 NKJV)

When Jesus became the Chairman of my Board,  I gained the authority (and ability) to fire my entire committee. The old fired members sometimes pay me a visit, but I've learned to ignore their remarks. I wait to hear from the one person that matters, the Chairman of my Board, who is Jesus. With your invitation, He's willing to become the Chairman of your Board  if you invite Him into your life as Lord and Savior.

 I've had decades of experience with Jesus as my Chairman, I can tell you that if you allow Jesus to be the Chairman of your Board, (as well as your Lord & Savior) your life will never be same. Will you accept His invitation?

An addendum:
One day after writing this blog I sold both soft covered and Kindle editions of my book on Amazon. While I was delighted  this occurred, I didn't feel any more of  a success on that day than I felt the week prior when no books sold. Lesson learned, Thank-you Jesus.