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You are Worthy

I get asked questions all the time, some hard and some harder and some fun. I want to begin to address all of them in between life events that I want to share in order to help. This weeks’ life event and topic is far to fresh and raw to share yet so I’m going to start now addressing questions. Last week I received some really heart felt questions and confessions outside of the public forum in response to last weeks post. I want to start there. I want to address how our self worth plays a role in our behavior.

Have I ever shared with you that I used to be a dancer? Ballet was my thing. I danced my whole life from age 3 through college and even had several opportunities to dance with different ballet companies. The first company I danced with was here in St. Louis. The company performed and traveled with only a couple pieces a year and not every dancer would be in every piece because that would have been too much for everyone. If the director intended to use a dancer for a piece, he/she was called in for the first day of rehearsal without knowing which part he/she would dance. I had no experience with the process that first year, so when I was called in for that first rehearsal I didn’t have any idea what to expect. We were told to sit in the dressing room and stay warmed up and prepared to be called by the director. I sat there with a room full of other dancers; some I knew well and others not at all. The first couple girls were called and they left to go learn their parts and choreography. Over the course of the morning people were called in pairs or slightly bigger groups over and over. At some point the girls remaining in the dressing room began to guess at the roles being chosen first…probably the leads…probably the best dancers…maybe some of us wouldn’t even get a part…etc.

The longer I sat in the dressing room waiting, the more I began to question my value.

Of course the director wouldn’t really use me for much…the other girls were older and had more experience…they were more talented. Each time someone got called and it wasn’t me, my thoughts got darker and more hopeless until at some point that afternoon, the director called me. I was the very last girl chosen. There was nobody else in the dressing room but me, and I’d been crying my eyes out over feeling rejected and less than. I quickly wiped away the tears, grabbed my bag and followed him into the rehearsal room. Turned out, the director gave me the principle part. I was dancing the main character. He waited to work with me until last so that he would have enough time to go over all of the choreography. I had been so upset…I had worked myself into an unworthy pity pit over nothing!

I wish I could say I learned a huge lesson about myself and my value that day and that I never responded to life experiences that way again, but that’s just not true. My upbringing trained me to respond that way.

The truth is I’ve allowed myself to feel worthless time and time again because of one reason or another all throughout my life. I’ve lived a large portion of my life in a pit of shame. I have made mistakes because of it. Am I the only one? Have any of you ever felt unworthy or less than? Maybe you messed up a relationship or were left off of an invite list or lost a job or didn’t get the job or a spouse was unfaithful or you were or you have a failed marriage or a child is going down a scary path. My guess is you can relate in one way or another. If you are a human, you’ve experienced feelings of low self worth at one time or another, but did you know that the experiences in our lives that cause us to spiral into that negative head and heart space shape us and inform how we interact with our world?

There have been many studies over the last forty years that indicate that the way we see ourselves determines to a large degree the way we act and react to circumstances and people… that our self-worth tends to be the primary guiding factor in our lives.

That’s kind of a big deal! If we see ourselves as a loser, we end up acting like someone who never wins. If we see ourselves as a victim, we let people victimize us. If we see ourselves as uncreative, we never come up with any creative ideas. If we see ourselves as successful then we repeat successes that we've had in the past. If we see ourselves as unlovable, we push people away before they can push us away. Our beliefs about ourselves determine our behavior, so it is extremely important for us to see ourselves accurately and then help others see themselves accurately.

The apostle Peter wrote a letter somewhere around 60 to 65 A.D to a group of persecuted believers. His words were meant to encourage them to endure their circumstances but his words can still encourage us today. You see Peter understood persecution, he understood feeling less than. In that letter he stated that we have been chosen and have work to do on earth and that work is to go tell the lost and seeking and hurt about what God has done in our lives…how we were nothing made something…how we were rejected and then accepted…how we made mistakes but were forgiven. If we are ever going to be able to do that job effectively, we need to understand and accept God’s love for us, first. Before we can help our children get there…before we can help any other human get there, we have to get there first.

Some of you may know that I moved recently. I took the opportunity to purge all kinds of things from my house that we just didn’t use or need. It was a TON of stuff. I don’t have attachment to things so I easily threw things into a dumpster, but there were a few things that I held onto because I felt like they were worth a lot of money. I have several collections. I have a collection of Toby mugs that my dad gave me. I have 100’s of them. I have a collection of precious moments that my mom started. I have a coin collection that my grandmother gave me. When I came across these collections in boxes in the basement, I decided to hang on to them. It was far harder for me to toss them in the trash or simply give them away because I really felt they held more value than some of the other things I’d gotten rid of, but now almost a year later I still have those collections in boxes in my new basement. Not because they aren’t valuable and not because I haven’t tried to sell them, but because I haven’t found a buyer willing to pay what I know they are worth.

The truth is that’s misguided thinking on my part.

I may have looked up the monetary value of the items in my collections and put a price tag on them in my mind, but in reality the value of something depends on what someone is willing to pay for it.

A house, a car, a piece of art, a baseball card are only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. If I can’t find a buyer for my collections at the price I want for them then they aren’t worth that price. They are doing no good to me sitting in boxes taking up space in my basement, right? Right. Things are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. And here’s the thing… we were purchased at a very high price…you me…believer, non-believer, walked away temporarily…all of us.

God loved each of us…God loved me…God loved you so much that He bought our freedom with the highest price imaginable…His son. Every time we let our thoughts fall into stinkin’ thinkin’…every time we doubt our worth or feel less than we are putting the shackles right back on…we are limiting the goodness in our lives.

If we are going to live into an abundant life something has to change IN us.

We need to change how we think. We can’t rely on our culture or other people, sometimes even our parents, to find our worth because they don’t know what they are talking about…the other people around us are not the authority or expert on us. Sure everyone has an opinion but that doesn’t make it accurate. If I want feedback and tips on how to be a better baker, I’m going to ask for it from a baker with more experience than me; someone I would consider an expert in the field because they know what they are talking about. Sure, many, many people have advice and opinions on baking but if they’ve never baked anything, I’m probably not going to put a lot of value in what they say because they are not an authority on the subject. It’s the same thing when it comes to our value and worth.

We need to look at ourselves from a different perspective. We need to hear from an informed and authorized source about our value and worth.

And the ONLY one who is an authority on you is your Creator. You are not the person the world is trying to tell you you are.

God is the authority on us. He gives us the correct information. If anyone ever tells you something that goes against what God, the expert on you says about you, they are wrong. Period. End of the story.

When we can stand firmly in that truth…when we believe who we are deep in our soul that’s when we live into the abundance that is promised to us… and everything changes. We begin to love others in a whole new way. Instead of sitting in a dressing room stressing about my worth, I’m applauding and cheering on the people who got called from the dressing room before me! Instead of worrying about who is the better dancer or more worthy of the part, I’m celebrating with my fellow dancers and friends.

You see, when we are confident in who we are…when we understand our worth…when we listen to God over people, we begin to serve and love and live differently…abundantly.

I know it’s much easier said than done…I know the complications of this world and our culture and our sin and the sin of those around us make it so hard to live into this, but we have to figure it out and we have to start now because at the end of the day refusing to accept who we are in Jesus…refusing to believe His word is true for us…thinking what we’ve done is untouchable by God’s forgiveness is prideful…it’s putting God in a box and saying He isn’t as powerful as He is…it’s like saying we know better than God does.

To truly love others, and I mean ALL people even the ones who seem unlovable, even the bullies, even the people whose very words make our blood boil, we need to accept that we are all greatly loved…every life is a masterpiece.

Who are you? Let me remind you. You are loved. You are chosen. You are known. You are accepted. You are royalty. You are valued. You are gifted. You are protected. You are blessed. You are seen. You are redeemed. You are forgiven. You are an image bearer of God and you inhabit an unshakable kingdom.

Let these things sink deep into your hearts and soak your lives this week…let the truth change you. If we want to live out our call to love others well and change the world, it has to start IN us. Make no mistake; we will NEVER be able to lead people…lead our children…lead the lost…lead the hurting…lead the least of us…lead our friends to a place that we haven’t allowed God to lead us first.

That is all for now. I love you and I'm glad you're here.

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