Having passed people-pleasing on the rung below me, the rung on the ladder of life, I am now on a new rung. A new rung does present new challenges, however, I feel ready for this rung. For I saw this quality in myself some time ago and shared these thoughts with friends.
I shared with them how, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to save the world, yet my parents had to remind me twice a day to brush my teeth. I reminisced about friends who had “slipped into the trenches” and how, although my motive has been to help a friend out of the trench, after a while what I really found, was myself down in the trench with my friend. Not fully knowing how I wound up there or how to get out, one thing I did know – I could not just leave someone I care about, down in the trench.
And then, thank God, I had a great moment of growth.
Never before could I fathom the heartlessness required to be able to walk away from someone in the trench. Thank God I was wrong. For heartlessness is not what it takes for me to leave the trench. What I need is my own worthiness. This requires self-esteem.
Self-esteem used to seem so elusive to me and I could not figure out why. It just seemed that a girl like me ought to have good self-esteem. There seemed no reason not to, I mean. And then I learned that self-esteem is not too concerned with looks. Being tall and thin does not necessarily produce self-esteem. Nor does talent. A top-seeded tennis player in high school, I was, and self-esteem still eluded me. I just couldn’t figure out why a girl like me couldn’t seem to get it – good quality self-esteem. It bothered me, and as a result, I did some pretty stupid things.
Then one day I was discussing this topic with friends, and I heard something that would totally change my life. My friend Kerry said, “Someone once told me that self-esteem comes from doing esteemable things.” I was like, “What? Say that again?” Something clicked inside of me, and although it seemed way too simple, I knew it made sense. Something else inside of me wanted to argue it, though.
I do esteemable things, I thought, so that can’t be all there is to it, my brain said to my soul. In no time, my soul answered back, that yes, my brain was right, there is more to it – I would also have to stop doing non-esteemable things.
I put forth a conscious effort to do esteemable things whenever possible and to stop doing non-esteemable things. If I inadvertently did something that was deemed non-esteemable, I quickly corrected it, and if it applied, asked for forgiveness. And for the first time in my life, I found good quality self-esteem.
Having self-esteem has changed my outlook on many things, including my relationships with other people. When I feel worthy of stepping out of the trench, then what my friend does or does not do, is really not a factor for what I do. But when I am harboring hate, guilt or some other negative emotion, then my soul knows I am not worthy of stepping up. When this happens, it is much easier for me to say, “I can’t just leave my friend here in the trench!”
Today I can see that stepping up a rung on the ladder of life is not the same as leaving a friend behind. A friend who feels left behind, simply may not be ready for such work. To this friend, I say, “Rest assured, my friend, I am not leaving you. It may seem dark and grey where you are, but it doesn’t have to be. When you are ready, holler, and I will be there to help you step up, out of the trench. And then you will see a sliver of sun, starting to shine on you.”