Leslie Vernick
April 26th, 2016                                                                            
What's New?
  • Give Her Wings is back. Their Spring Into Spring campaign is looking to help women who are escaping from physically abusive relationships. CLICK HERE for more information. 

Who Do You Say I Am?

By Leslie Vernick


When you look in the mirror who do you see? Do you see a woman who is attractive, competent, valued, and loved? Or, are you more likely to see yourself as flawed, ugly, inferior, and unloved?


Our internal picture of ourselves begins at birth when we look into our mother (or caregiver's) face and take into ourselves what is reflected back to us. Does our mom smile when we coo? Is she attentive and soothing when we cry? Do people clap when we take our first step?


In a healthy environment, infants see themselves as loved, wanted, and valued. Being raised by loving parents gives us a solid foundation for a good self-image, but no one escapes childhood without a few scars. Those who did not have loving caregivers are more deeply wounded.


When I was a child, I never liked being me. I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, or skinny enough. I was never invited to the birthday parties of the popular girls in my school, and I always saw myself as inferior.


Sometimes I tried to become someone else. I'd copy one of the more popular girls' laugh, or outfit, or hairstyle, hoping that if I could look or become more like her, people would then like me. But I never felt cared about or secure in my relationships because I knew that the person they liked wasn't the real me. I saw myself as a fake.


As adult women, we still battle these same feelings don't we? We tell ourselves that we're not as pretty, or as together, or as spiritual, or organized, or loving as other women we see. We compare and contrast our lives and our thighs and ask ourselves, “Do I measure up? Am I good enough?” In addition, we're constantly scanning the faces of those around us, silently asking, “How do you see me? Am I loved, worthy, and valuable to you?”


The foundation for a healthy self-concept rests in the assurance that we are loved, but human love (no matter how good) will never be enough or without some pain. It is only God's infinite and unconditional love that can correct and heal our faulty self-image.


When I began to take my eyes off myself and my flaws and imperfections and put them on God, I began to see myself differently. I stopped looking at myself through my mother's eyes, which told me I was unloved and unwanted. I stopped looking at myself through other people's eyes, which sometimes made me feel wonderful, but more often reminded me that I was inadequate and flawed and never enough.


Seeing myself through God's eyes gave me an entirely different picture of who I am and what I was made for. I discovered that God doesn't want to change me into another person, but he does want to change me. He wants me to be the best possible me so I am free to serve Him without fear and morbid self-consciousness. He wants to heal and transform the lies, the wounds, and yes, even the sins that have kept me from becoming the person he created me to be.


If you're struggling with a negative self-image, the ultimate makeover isn't done at the cosmetic counter, the gym, in a fancy department store, or by a plastic surgeon, but by God. Psychologist David Benner writes, “Genuine self knowledge begins by looking at God and noticing how God is looking at us. Grounding our knowing of ourselves in God's knowing of us anchors us in reality, it also anchors us in God.”


The apostle Paul tells us because of what Christ did for us on the cross, God sees us as “holy and blameless before him, presented without a single fault.” But he cautions us not to forget who we are, because when we do, we'll feel those old insecurities creep back in (Colossians 1:21-23).


Here are a few things you can do to help you see clearly.


1.  Meditate on God's Word. Despite your perceptions, the truest thing about you is what God says about you.


2.  Since Jesus is the exact representation of what God is like (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3), look at how Jesus interacted with people. Notice how they changed the way they saw themselves when they looked at God looking at them. (For starters, read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:2-10, and the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-30).


3.  Stop the negative self-talk. When you become aware that you're comparing yourself with others or putting yourself down or allowing someone else's gaze to diminish you, tell yourself to stop it. You are no longer going to be controlled by those habits. Instead look up and see God looking at you.

Does Grace And Forgiveness Erase Negative Consequences?

Today’s question was written by a man who challenged my theology and I think it goes along with a lot of the wrong thinking out there on how a destructive marriage is healed or reconciled.


He told me I was stuck in Old Testament legalistic thinking. He said that if his wife practiced New Testament grace and forgiveness they would still be together. Instead they were separated.


I asked him several clarifying questions and it seems that after an abusive incident (not the first one) he expected that as a Christian, his wife would forgive him, offer him a clean slate, as sort of a do-over mentality where they would start fresh and not bring up what happened yesterday or the day before.


But rather than the clean slate he longed for, this time his wife told him she was separating from him. She told him that unless he got professional help and showed her over time that he could be safe and manage his negative emotions in a mature way, she would not be coming back. She could forgive him, but she could not live with him. He believed that her offer of forgiveness was insincere unless she was willing to fully reconcile.


Their church agreed that his behavior was sinful, but in the end sided more with his thinking than hers. He was welcomed back into fellowship with open arms because he said he was repentant. His wife was disciplined and shunned because she wouldn’t comply with their church’s counsel to move back home. After all, he said he was sorry and was willing to meet with the pastor for counseling. She was labeled hard-hearted and rebellious because she refused to subject herself to the possibility of further abuse.


It deeply concerns me how quickly in Christian circles the focus of the problem gets twisted. The victim is now labeled the unrepentant, hard-hearted one because she refused to quickly reconcile. The one who sinned against her is now seen as the victim of his hard-hearted, unforgiving spouse.


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Who Do You Say I Am?


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Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
Self – Esteem – Looking Up, Instead Of Looking In.

Does Grace And Forgiveness Erase Negative Consequences?

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Coaching Programs

Self Esteem

Leslie Vernick


How do you answer the question: “Who am I?” Do you base your self image on your successes, failures, acceptance, and/or rejections by others? Most of us do, but when we base our value and worth on external sources rather than what God says, our self-image will shift like sand, leading to an unstable and anxious sense of who we are.


Experienced counselor and author Leslie Vernick shares that the answer to healing a negative self-image and low self-esteem is not in trying harder, gaining more popularity, being more productive, having more possessions, securing more power, having a coveted position, or in achieving perfection. A healthy sense of self doesn’t happen by focusing on self at all. Instead a healthy self-image combines the security of knowing God’s love with the humility that comes from knowing ourselves and how much we need Christ. 

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide your name and email address.
Winners of A Widows Journey By Gayle Roper are Ann M. and Linda W.

April 28th – 29th, 2016

Faith United Methodist Church

CLICK HERE to register


October 14th – 15, 2016

Becoming the Best Possible

You – Both Inside and Out

Allentown, PA.

Registration coming soon




What I am so very grateful Leslie wrote this book for those of us in difficult relationships. She shares with candor and comfort how to ask the right questions, seek help, get healthy and stay strong – whether or not the difficult person in your life changes. In addition to a very practical questionnaire, the entire book is an easy, understandable read with useful applications and plenty of scriptural support.


I've already personally worked through many of the truths Leslie shares, but I gleaned so much additional information and encouragement I wish I would have known years ago. If you've been wounded or hurt or know someone who has–or is–this book is a must for your library.”


– Nancy S.



Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.

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Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States