Reading from Tim Keller’s book Reason for God I came across these words that quite adequately describe my experience (all bolding is my own).
When my own personal grasp of the gospel was very weak, my self-view swung wildly between two poles. When I was performing up to my standards – in academic work, professional achievement, or relationships – I felt confident but not humble. I was likely to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. When I was not living up to my standards, I felt humble but not confident, a failure.
I discovered, however, that the gospel contained the resources to build a unique identity. In Christ I could know I was accepted by grace, not despite my flaws, but because I was willing to admit them. The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. I don’t need to notice myself – how I’m doing, how I’m being regarded – so often.
These days I am experiencing the paradox of profound humility and deep confidence… both at the same time! Why? I am experiencing a fresh understanding of who God is and who I am in relationship to Him.
How about you? What happens to your “self-image” when you are a huge success? Perhaps more importantly, what happens to your self-image when you fail?