Thursday, October 4, 2012

"On Fire": Are You "VASHTI" or "ESTHER"?

This morning...

The Spirit and I were having a conversation about self-esteem; more specifically, how so many people end up in "less than God's best" relationships because they let their low self-esteem do the choosing rather than *their authentic sense of self-worth*---the kind of value that God created them to have since the womb...before the world got a hold of them.

As I was pondering all of that, I read a few articles on signs that you have good self-esteem vs. low self-esteem. One article, in particular, had some really excellent points:

Signs of High Self-Esteem

Having an internal locus of control; getting "okayness" from within, not from others.

Taking care of yourself — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Maintaining a balance between extremes of thought, feeling and behavior; when out-of-balance, taking action to correct.

Learning from mistakes and being able to say, "I made a mistake, I’m sorry."

Managing your life responsibly.

Honoring individual differences among people.

Listening to other points of view.

Taking responsibility for your own perceptions and reactions; not projecting onto others.

Having the ability to listen to your wise inner self (your intuition), and to act on this guidance.

Demonstrating self-respect, self-confidence and self-acceptance.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

Choosing continuous self-improvement and taking positive risks.

Balancing being and doing.

Feeling warm and loving towards yourself.

Giving and receiving love easily, with no strings attached.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Self-blame, self-criticism, or constantly putting others down through guilt, blame, shame or faultfinding.

Over- or under-achieving, eating, working, doing, etc.

Playing the victim, rationalizing that outside circumstances are the cause of your problems.

Not taking responsibility for your own life, turning power over to another to make decisions for you, then feeling victimized if the results are not to your liking.

Taking undo responsibility for the lives of others; dominating and making decisions for them.

Fear of change and reluctance to take risks, or too much change, taking dangerous, unwise risks.

Constant negativity, or being so optimistic that reality is denied.

Reacting to others with extreme emotion or no emotion.

Boastful, overbearing behavior around others, or inability to maintain integrity during interactions.

Demanding to be "right," needing to have agreement or have your own way most of the time, or constantly acquiescing to the will and opinions of others.

Constantly comparing yourself to others, and thereby feeling inferior or superior.

Black-white, either-or thinking, e.g. believing that a person is either good or bad based on rigid standards of good and bad behavior.

Having pervasive deep-seated feelings of fear, terror, or panic.

Speaking with lots of shoulds, oughts, could-haves, and yes-buts.

Interpreting the hurtful words or actions of others as proof of your unworthiness.

I know, right? If most of us were *really and truly honest* with ourselves, we'd have to admit that the road to high self-esteem is, on some levels, a lifelong battle/journey---it's definitely something that we have to get up each morning and *choose* to have.

When I asked the Spirit (John 4:24) to lead me to a biblical example of high vs. low self-esteem, it was the Book of Esther that, immediately, I was led to.

You know, there's something that Queen Vashti and Queen Esther had in common:

"He commanded them to bring him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown. She was to come to show her beauty to the people and important men, because she was very beautiful."---Esther 1:11(NKJV)

"And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter."---Esther 2:7(NKJV)

Queen Vashti was very beautiful.

Esther was *lovely* and beautiful.

Just the way that they were described *already* gives us a bit of an insight into the kind of women that they were. For one, we know that King Xerses was a pagan king and so there's no reason for us to believe that Queen Vashti was a Jew (especially since Esther hid who she was until after she was married to him). The story also tells us that Queen Vashti's *stank attitude* got her demoted:

"The eunuchs told Queen Vashti about the king's command, but she refused to come. Then the king became very angry; his anger was like a burning fire."---Esther 1:12(NCV)

When you are a *queen* married to a *king*, there are certain *requirements* that come with the position. When a woman becomes a helpmate, an Ezer Kenegdo (Hebrew for "lifesaver"-Genesis 2:18), there is *work* that comes with the position. Helping and submission (Ephesians 5) *come* with the position. And sadly, far too many women take the Queen Vashti approach. They want the *benefits* of being a married woman without taking on the *responsibility* and that's not a mature way to live.

Queen Vashti, physically, was very beautiful and yet *it still* didn't phase the king enough to overlook that she *wasn't in her rightful position*. (WHY do we as women think that beauty will keep a man? It may *attract* him, but it certainly doesn't *keep* him!) As a result, she got demoted:

"'So, our king, if it pleases you, give a royal order, and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be changed. The law should say Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her place as queen to someone who is better than she is. And let the king's order be announced everywhere in his enormous kingdom. Then all the women will respect their husbands, from the greatest to the least.'
The king and his important men were happy with this advice, so King Xerxes did as Memucan suggested."---Esther 1:19-21(NCV)


Satan is *such the liar* (John 8:44). He likes people to think that he's grotesquely ugly with horns. Ezekiel 28 tells us that as Lucifer, he was actually *perfect in beauty* (verse 12) and so even with all that sin has done to him, have we not all seen some *really beautiful people* who do some *really ungodly things*? And no matter who we've seen before, they are not *perfect in beauty*. The point in even bringing that up is this: Satan makes the physical *so much more* of a priority because he knows how to manipulate beauty *and* he knows that the Word says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12-NKJV)



This very fact is restated here:

"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror."---I Peter 3:1-6(NKJV)

I like how the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), says "merely outward" because it's pretty sad (and not really the best witness, either) to see a homely-looking Christian woman.  It's fine to arrange your hair, wear gold and put on fine apparel (please do, in fact!) but it's to be the *icing* on the cake, not the cake itself.

That's what's so special about Hadassah/Esther.

A Jewish (non-pagan) woman.

Also a beautiful woman.

Oh, but it's that word "lovely" from the King James Version that stood out to me more than anything else:

Lovely: charmingly or exquisitely beautiful; having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye, as a person or a face; delightful; highly pleasing; of a great moral or spiritual beauty

When Stevie Wonder praised his daughter with the song, "Isn't She Lovely?", I wonder if he got the *totality* of what he was speaking forth on her behalf? And oh how I enjoy the fact that there's a line where he says, "Isn't she lovely? Made from love."


Bottom line, being physically beautiful is cool. But there's *all kinds of women* out here who are beautiful and still have the characteristics of low self-esteem. As a result, they make some really poor choices---professionally and personally---that end up getting them demoted in life.

In relationship to this message, God wants us to be *lovely* more than anything...

To have the kind of beauty that appeals to the heart and mind as much (if not more) than the eye.

To be delightful and highly-pleasing (not a drama queen or needy or suspicious or prideful).

To be of *great* moral and spiritual beauty.

*This* is the kind of woman who pleases the Most High and who he can trust with one of his sons.

It certainly doesn't hurt to look at yourself sometimes and ask: 

"God, am I a 'Vashti' or an 'Esther'?"



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