Reflected Appraisal

Who am I? 

Each one of us asks this question. In fact, if we are being honest, it is most surely the question that we each ask the most. Every day, we are confronted by new things, new ideas, new thoughts about how we should look, how we should act, how we should be, or shouldn't be. Even those of us who proclaim abstinence publicly from this kind of thinking become introspective when confronted with our own loneliness.

In psychology, there is a phrase of words used to describe how we view ourselves. This phrase is Reflected Appraisal. What this phrase means essentially is that we define ourselves by looking through the lens of how others treat us. If you are part of a group of people, and they treat you like a leader, you are likely to consider yourself to be a leader. If the group treats you as an outcast, you are likely to consider yourself to be lonely, unlikable, or unattractive.

As Christians, this can be a difficult problem because we are told in Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Defining ourselves by the views of a secular world can be dangerous. Too often I watch as men and women of God slip into thoughts of depression, thoughts of unworthiness based upon their surroundings. The fact that we so often neglect is that other people are not the only ones with opinions about who we are! God has made it clear in his word that He created us to be special, unique, and made in His own image. The truth is so crystal clear, so straightforward that sometimes it can be difficult to believe, yet time and time again God proves to us his unfathomable love, His unconquerable passion for us, and His unwavering grace.

Reflected appraisal is unavoidable, we will always develop views about ourselves depending on how others treat us. The call as Christians is to value what God is saying about who we are more than the opinion of others.