There is a social psychological concept called the “looking-glass self,” which states that a person’s sense of self grows out of their interpersonal interactions in society and the perceptions of others. According to this concept, we see ourselves through the eyes of other people, usually those who influence us the most, even to the extent of incorporating their views of us into our own self-concept.
I can still remember the incident which made me believe that I was good-for-nothing. At around 21:00 hours one moonless night, my father, a real estate broker at the time, came home from work. He immediately switched on the TV. He became frustrated when he couldn’t change the channel. He told me to go next door to my uncle’s home and ask about the winning lottery numbers. Life was hard back then, especially because the real estate business was declining. My father faced a lot of pressure being both a broker and a family man; winning the lottery would have been a big help for our family.
Cold wind blew as I walked towards my uncle’s house. Their door was closed and the house was quiet. I didn’t want to bother anyone, so I went back home. “Papa, the door is closed, so they might be sleeping,” I said. In his frustration, he blurted out, “You stupid no-brainer! Go back there and knock on the door!” I got the winning numbers, but apparently I lost a part of me.
Since then, I’ve always thought my father meant what he said, and that he could be right. It changed how I see myself and the people around me. I grew up timid, with low self-esteem, afraid to take risks, and full of resentment towards my father and others. I lived a crazy, empty life.
I wrote those words at the back of a notebook which I still keep to this day. I’m not sure if it’s a reminder of that painful past, or a memento of how I overcame that part of my life.
I met the God of the Bible one weekend in April 2010 when my sister invited me to church. Since Holy Week was approaching, the preacher delivered a message about Jesus’ death on the cross. I had heard about it many times, but on that day I understood the importance of that beautiful exchange in the life of a sinner — in my life. I gave my life to Jesus sincerely and wholeheartedly. God’s rich love, grace, and mercy have gotten into me, and ever since that day my life has never been the same.
I grew in my relationship with Christ and learned about the importance of prayer and devotion. As I communed with God regularly and studied the Bible, God became my everything. The looking-glass self concept says that you become what the most important person in your life thinks you are. As God became the most important One in my life, I started to realize my worth. Looking through the eyes of grace, God saw beyond what I see in myself. I now serve in my church as part of the Social Media Team, and my father served as a missionary pastor. By God’s grace, our family is doing well.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”