Why Do We Condemn Ourselves?

"Why do we condemn ourselves?" by Claire McGarry (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2017 Claire McGarry. All rights reserved.

My ten-year-old son, Mason, has been playing baseball for six years, spring and fall, with batting clinics and camps in between. None of it seemed to be clicking. He did okay, and liked it enough; but there was no real spark. I had a hunch he was only playing baseball to please my husband. When I’d ask Mason about it, he’d imply it was part of the reason, but he’d never give me a straight answer.
There has been a vast turnaround this baseball season, and it’s blowing me away! Not only is there never a complaint about going to a practice or game, but Mason is skipping-out-the-door excited about it all.
That positive attitude is doing amazing things for his game. He’s hitting 100% better, and he’s caught fly balls to make outs in almost every game. I’ve been so thrilled to see him so happy and proud of himself, I haven’t dissected the situation to figure out where the change came from. Of course age and practice have something to do with it, but this transformation is bigger than that.
While reading Acts 13, it all came together for me. In it, the Jews are jealous and angry that Paul and Barnabas are attracting so many Gentile followers for Jesus. When the Jews confront the disciples about it, the disciples say,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46)
Paul clarifies that he’s not the one who condemned the Jews as unworthy; they condemned themselves. What a concept! I don’t think the Jews are the only ones to have it backwards.
So many of us don’t realize that the power to determine our worthiness is ours to wield. Often, we let peers and society be the ones who pass judgement on us. Paul helps us realize we have it all wrong! If God made us perfectly, and offers eternal life to all, why do we allow others to determine our worthiness?
I think that is what Mason was doing up until this baseball season: he was allowing his teammates, coaches, and my husband to determine his ability at baseball. Worse yet, he interpreted certain feedback as negative, and was condemning himself as unworthy.
Somehow, something has shifted inside of him. He has taken back his right to be worthy; and the ripple effect in his performance is immense. We all know a positive attitude is half the battle in anything we do. Now that Mason has that victory behind him, everything else is falling into place. Most of all, he’s happy, and he’s proud of how he’s doing.
We all need to take back our right to be worthy. If the Master Creator gave it to us, with no strings attached, we need to hold onto that gift with all our might. It is the key component to good self-esteem. When our self-esteem is in tact, we’re able to grow into the best version of ourselves. Doing so is what glorifies God best.
Do I give others the power to determine my worthiness? Do I use their feedback to condemn myself?
Master Creator, thank you for making me worthy, simply because I am Your perfect creation. Help me to own this truth and guard it with all my might.
Copyright 2017 Claire McGarry 

About Author

Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and All is Blessing: Finding God in the Tensions of Life, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.


  1. Wow! Good for Mason. This post was a good reminder for me to not let others dictate who I am or how I feel about myself. I can’t let them steal my joy and self worth. Thanks to God for saying what I need to hear through you. Great post.

  2. Awesome, Claire! Good for Mason, it is a joy to see him happy and your post is a good reminder for all of us. xo

    • I can’t tell you how great it is to watch him play baseball now. Even his posture is different – taller and prouder. Thanks for always being so supportive, Mom. Love you!

  3. This is a great post, Claire. I am always fighting this battle with myself. I love the reminder that God gave us the power to determine our own self worth. I need to remember this. I will be sharing this lesson with the kids. 🙂

    • I think we all struggle with this, Pam. It wasn’t until I connected the dots with Mason that I examined the issue for myself. I think when I’m feeling comfortable and confident, I maintain my right to be worthy. But when I’m out of my comfort zone, I hand that power over in a heartbeat. I do want to continue to do things outside my comfort zone, but I need to remember to hold onto that power as my God-given right. I suppose we’re always a work in progress… 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting, Pam!


    Thanks for sharing this, Claire! I’m so happy for Mason that he can just enjoy being himself!!! This reminds me of a saying that I first heard several years ago, and which we should listen to ourselves: “Please be patient! God isn’t finished with me yet!”

    • I love this quote, Mary! I know I for one am impatient. I want to be wise, capable and on top of everything NOW, not in the future. Although it frustrates me that I’m not, it also humbles me (which I think is God’s whole point 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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