How could I, who felt worthless, gain value? Whether it is pride or the self-deprecation (even outright loathing) that often masquerades as humility, anything that is focused primarily on self is going to miss the source. So I found myself in the same trap so many have encountered, wondering if I were humble enough, loving enough, good enough … and then fearing the pride that came with improvement.
It feels ironic to look back and see I had great worth from the beginning.
I smothered the evidence beneath false evaluations, but those ideas didn’t come from “the world.” No, we encounter those sticky threads of thought circulating within the church’s spiritual lessons, dressed up in shiny, righteous effort, and backed by chapter and verse.
Be perfect. Be humble. Be like Jesus. Obey the leadership. Don’t question God. Believe the truth. Have faith to work out your salvation. Believe God saves by grace. Seek God with all your heart. Examine yourself all the time. It wasn’t possible to do all of it at once, and most of those expectations end up contradicting themselves and reality one way or another.
We vaguely think of God as a distant caricature with a white, cloudy beard, possibly even running from us for fear that we might contaminate him. Yet every human along with all creation (even those of whom we disapprove) is intrinsically dependent upon the presence of God.
Do we normally consider that the tiniest elements of cellular structure and possibilities of interaction are formed in the sound of his voice? Only nothing can exist without the power of his conscious presence. Our existence is suspended before this infinite designer who looks back upon us even as he looks forward to us and makes available every moment of our awareness as it occurs. If he didn’t keep track of the hair falling from our heads it would vanish instead of joining the dust bunnies!
His idea of value isn’t really comprehensible, so we tend to focus on the elements that we’re able to grasp and set our eyes on the markers we can frame, define, and legalize. Then we wonder how God can help us when we don’t even have enough faith to really follow him, even though he loves us enough to die for us. We say the word “grace” but don’t live as though it is true.
We redefine a harsh demand for living up to high expectations under the threat of punishment as “love,” and claim fear as a motivation for good works. But real love casts out fear and those good works were designed for us from outside time.
It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself. (Click to tweet this!)
Whether you feel a sense of accomplishment or the sting of failure, as much or as little as will naturally occur in the course of events,… you are kept in mind by one who is far more capable of defining your existence, and that is all that is important.
Because God is who he is, you are free to be who you are, to grow, fail, discover, lose, and to aim for larger goals than you could ever accomplish based on your own capacity. No one can predict what effect you will have or what will be accomplished in your life or death, because you are a conduit for resources you could never contain.
It doesn’t matter how others see you. (Click to tweet this!)
Even Jesus was despised and rejected.
When we treasure anyone, we only see what we are capable of seeing, a tiny portion of the mystery none can encompass, and some see less than others because they limit what they are willing to notice.
You can clean toilets or dine with kings, be wise or foolish, praised or corrected, seen as sinners, or lauded as saints, and none of this will alter your value.
All the lessons of history are woven of life stories.
Intrinsic value is imprinted upon you, but it is as external as existence, as vital as identity, and just as much out of your control. You can open your life and let it flow through … or you can bury that potential through pride or despairing self-focus, channeling it into a closed cycle where it churns, waiting for a chance to weave through existence as it was meant to do. Too often, our culture trains us to do this.
Yet no one can ever completely eliminate this mark, even while consciously pursuing destruction. Even then it is still possible to uncover and benefit from all God invested in you. The whole Bible is about people who contributed to the story in spite of themselves, when you think about it. Because of this, it seems impossible to avoid the touch of mystery in my life.
I am set free to simply be another demonstration of how God affects the world in relationship. (Click to tweet this!)
I’m neither afraid to notice and rejoice when God demonstrates his presence within my life, nor do I fear he won’t show up, even when I make a mess. It may not be the facade of humility I once sought, but it is obvious I’ll never be larger than the fingerprint of the eternal. His love permeates and overflows my existence. I contain value by design.
Have you noticed this powerful investment in your life as well?