Do You Have an Inferiority Complex?

By: Jill Briscoe

When I was a little girl, I had the mistaken idea that my parents loved my sister more than they loved me.  It didn’t seem one bit fair, but Shirley had had three years’ start on me.  My folks had had all that extra time to spend with her, and they shared special memories about things that I knew nothing whatsoever about.  Why they had had a head start loving each other, it was logical for me to believe I was loved less!  I developed a real inferiority complex about my sister.  She was so clever at math, so swift on the field hockey team, so pretty in her pajamas!  

My parents, recognizing my problem, sought to “make up” time and assure me of their real love.  They were scrupulously fair, sharing everything perfectly evenly with us, but it didn’t seem to help.  I had a wonderful mother and father and a fabulous sister, terrific friends (a lot of them), great teachers who encouraged me, a tennis coach who believed in me, and yet, despite it all—I couldn’t believe that I was quite as important to my parents as my sister, Shirley, was!  

It was not until I became a committed Christian at the age of eighteen that I experienced an internal sense of value.  You see, I came to believe I mattered to God.  In fact, I read in the Bible I mattered so much to Him that He who had but one precious Son sent Him to earth to die on the cross for me.  Now I had to be worth something for Him to do that.  Now I “belonged” to God, and I could start being glad I belonged to me!

Even belonging to a beautiful, loving family cannot bring internal security to the soul.  The soul that belongs to God knows the difference.

When I first began to truly believe that I belonged to God and He loved me, I was well on the way to loving myself in the right manner.  As a new Christian, I noticed the Scripture commanded a right sense of self-worth.  I was to love my neighbors “as I loved myself”—and that was an order.

Confusion came only when I thought that loving myself was the same thing as being selfish.

Not long after I was converted to Christ, I came across a verse in the Book of Galatians that said: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (2:20).

There you are, I said to myself, “I” is good for nothing.  The selfish “I” must die—in fact, God is saying here, “I” have been crucified with Christ.  I discovered, however, this I that Paul spoke of can be thought of as the old I or the old woman that I used to be.  It is the old, selfish unregenerate me he is talking about here.  This, I found out, was the person I was before I met Christ, received the Holy Spirit, and was born from above.  It was speaking of the self-centered, self-seeking, arrogant me who demanded the world to worship at her feet, and sought the company of those who would pamper and coddle, stroke, and attend to her every whim.  

This is the way people behave because they are unsure about themselves and need attention to feel of value.  And we behave this way, of course, because we are supremely selfish.  The Bible in no way tells us to love this ugly part of us, but there can be a new me, says the apostle Paul. The new me who is dressed in Christ lives a new life in a new dimension with a whole new power to be different.  Christ sets me free to be the me that God has always wanted me to be.  In other words, to be a Christian means I can begin to feel really good about myself to such a degree I can forget myself in loving service for others.

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.  


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