“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.” (Margaret Atwood)
This is the condition into which we all fall, from time to time, but sometimes -deep down- it can become a default position, a world-view, a secret self-belief. Today I have a question that I’m asking myself:
Do we have to persuade ourselves how valuable we are to God?
You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.
There’s a line in Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater that comes to mind: “Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.”
Jesus challenged that perspective, forcing a radical re-assessment of one’s self-worth.
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24)
Frequently, Jesus referred to something from nature to remind us about something in God’s character. It’s an effortless connection, that the God who made the birds, also made the people, and that provision and supply must come from the same source.
But isn’t it encouraging to realise that if this first point is true (that there is a Creator), then so is the second (that the Creator cares for his creation)?
And there is yet a third point: the supply does not depend on activism or performance (no sowing, reaping, no storehouse nor barn) but just upon the loving character of the Creator: “Yet God feeds them”!
And then comes the kicker: Jesus slips in an amazing question: “Of how much more value are you than the birds?”
The unspoken answer is: “A great deal!”
I become anxious, perhaps, because I haven’t really received the truth that God is Creator -or perhaps it’s slipped my mind! Luther said that he preached Justification by Faith every single Sunday because people forgot during the week!
Have I forgotten that all of life started with God?
This idea of God as creator is foundational. It’s “the truth that sets you free” from the anxiety of thinking that life is all down to you!
And Jesus insisted that God is also a loving Creator, and that your place in that creation is of spectacular import. “Of how much more value are you?”
O God, I ask today, that you remind me of my value in your sight. Open the eyes of my heart that I might see clearly that you provide for all you have made.
This morning, I am lifting up my hands to you.
There’s a couple of important corollaries, too.
First, once you embrace your own value, talents and strengths, it neutralizes the sting when others think less of you. Life is too short to waste any amount of time on wondering what other people think about you. In the first place, if they had better things going on in their lives, they wouldn’t have the time to sit around and talk about you. What’s important to me is not others’ opinions of me, but what’s important to me is my opinion of myself. I have to start with this matter of self-worth. I have to start where Jesus did: realising my own value in the Father’s eyes.
“It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.” (Abraham Lincoln)
But the second corollary rescues the first from becoming self-obsession. Once you have relaxed into the realisation that you are of value, you can begin to ascribe vaue to those around you.
And not until.
Everyone enjoys being acknowledged and appreciated. Sometimes even the simplest act of gratitude can change someone’s entire day. Take the time to recognize and value the people around you and appreciate those who make a difference in your lives.
For the truth is that we were created not for individual excellence but for community, for family, for each other and for love itself. The discovery of value in ourselves directs us to live more tenderly, gently and observantly towards those around us.
Here’s a beautiful word with which to start your day from Vera Nazarian’s Calendar to which I frequently turn:
“A fine glass vase goes from treasure to trash, the moment it is broken. Fortunately, something else happens to you and me. Pick up your pieces. Then, help me gather mine.”