When I was in college, I got sick. One day I was fine and the next I was in debilitating pain. I’ve always been an achiever, so I’d accomplished a lot in my mere 20 years. I’d always felt like a useful person — a high contributor. When you’re 20, you don’t really realize you’re placing your worth and value in the wrong things until they’re taken from you.
In the weeks that followed the onset of my illness, my mom had to come to college to take care of me, and I could barely drag myself to class. Having to drop out was a very real possibility and it terrified me. Why? Because I doubted my worth apart from what I could do. If I couldn’t be a productive person doing things for God (my idea of what gave me worth), I was no longer valuable. Of course you can probably see that those feelings came from the enemy, not from the loving God who created me and knew about my illness before I was born. But I still bought into it.
A few nights ago, I watched a movie that came out in the early 2000s. Wondering what had happened to the vivacious young starlet who was captivating on screen, I did a little research. Like too many successful actresses, she was in rehab (again). In a recent article, she described hitting a low point immediately after the success of one of her movies.
I sometimes believe that if I meet a certain standard of accomplishment or contribution, I’ll feel worthy. But examples like this one prove that’s simply not true. Feelings of worthlessness can strike those who appear to be wildly successful just as easily as they do the average person.
If you struggle with feelings of worthlessness, you’re certainly not alone. In her article “You’re More Than Just a Number,” Allison Barron writes:
“I wrestle with feelings of worthlessness because of my humanity. I constantly make mistakes. I hurt people I care about, usually unintentionally, but it happens often. There are other people more worthy of God’s time — they are smarter, kinder, richer, poorer, wiser, humbler than me. I am the smallest glob of paint on God’s master canvas, so tiny that I doubt my contribution to the picture. And I wonder why God wants me to contribute at all, when He can make a beautiful image without my help.”
The One who defines me
If our worth as humans depended upon our accomplishments and contributions, many of us would have great reason to feel worthless. The wonderful truth is that our worth is intrinsic — first because we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and second because if we know Him, He imbues our lives with purpose and meaning (John 15:16). God says that we could not be more valuable if we tried (and we do). The difficult piece for us is choosing to believe that what God says is true.
I could quote you verse after verse that talks about your worth, but it won’t make you feel any better if you don’t believe it’s true. When I was stripped of some of the things I had found my sense of worth in, all that remained was Jesus — my beautiful Savior. I was blown away that I was so valuable to Him, that He sacrificed His life for me, desiring only my love and praise.
Whether you’re just barely making it through the day or are in a season of great success, beware of feelings of worthlessness. Though that message is powerful, it does not come from God. Set your mind on the truth, like Jesus’ words in Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
God made you. He loves you. You have worth. And you don’t have to earn it.
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.