There aren’t a lot of things I’m certain of in life. There are some obvious things I am certain of like gravity, the negative effects of reality television on our culture, and the existence of Smurfs.
One of the things I am more certain of than ever is I will disappoint others. I have all the potential and the ability to let you down and most likely have already and will again – as a friend; a daughter; an aunt; a pastor. Definitely as a blogger.
I have spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to avoid this certainty. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. And by “don’t want”, I mean “I’d rather do the worm in slow motion across a ginormous bed of hot coals” than disappoint anyone. During my life, I subconsciously came to believe my worth was tied to pleasing others. If I please others, I am loved and valued. If I fail others, I am unlovable and unworthy. I have the feeling many of you also developed this false idea and have been trying to shake it for a good deal of your life.
I will fail to live up to your expectations of me or the expectations I assume you have for me. Either way, those expectations will not be met sometimes.
I will fail you.
I will disappoint you.
I will fail myself.
I will disappoint myself.
I will fail God.
I will disappoint God.
And so will you.
Before you grab Ben & Jerry out of the freezer, finish this blog.
There is some good news here. Great news, in fact. News that I am certain of but struggle to trust sometimes.
My worth is not in pleasing others, myself, or God. Neither is your’s. Our worth is not in our hands at all which means there is no chance that we can damage or lose it. Seriously.
Go back and reread that last paragraph again. I’ll wait…
When my niece and nephew were babies, one of the things I loved most was rocking them to sleep. I’d tuck them into my arms, hold them close to my chest and rock them gently as a I walked around the room and hummed songs or whispered blessings into their ears. They often would fight it for awhile but I would just hold them tighter and keep rocking and humming and whispering. Eventually, their eyes would get heavy and after a few moments, I would feel their body go limp as they finally fell asleep in my arms. It was the literal picture and overwhelming understanding of what it means to rest in the arms of someone you trust completely.
The more I struggle, the tighter God embraces me. God whispers to me. God sings songs into my heart and my soul.
“You are My beloved. My immense love for you constitutes your worth. If My love for you is unconditional than so is your worth.”
If My love for you is unconditional than so is your worth.
If I can trust this as a certainty, if I can let go and rest in my identity as God’s beloved than I will not fear disappointing others. Of course, I don’t want to disappoint others but I don’t fear it and I’m not surprised by it when it happens. I will not be afraid to fail because failure doesn’t threaten my worth. Failure is just evidence that I’m willing to take risks and to learn. As Donald Miller states, “Failure is an education, not a judgment.”
If I can trust this as a certainty, if I can let go and rest in my identity as God’s beloved than I will not fear disappointing God either. His love for me is not affected by my love for Him. (Thank God!) It is unconditional and immune to my efforts. If my worth is in His love for me than my worth is immune to my efforts or lack thereof as well. Of course, I don’t want to disappoint God but I don’t fear it and I’m not surprised by it when it happens.
I learned while completing my M.Ed. in Counseling that we often allow fear to control our lives. Fear often determines our choices. Whatever or whomever we fear is often the thing we abdicate our lives to. If I fear my worth is in pleasing others, I’ve abdicated my life to perfection. What a miserable way to live because “perfection is not an option. It is a seduction.” (Eugene Peterson) The most repeated commandment in Scripture is “Do not fear.” It’s in the text over 200 times. I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence.
I want to be a great friend, aunt, daughter, sister, pastor, human.
But the truth is – I am a better friend, aunt, daughter, sister, pastor, human, etc. when I remember my worth is not in those identities but rather my identity as God’s beloved.
If I live out of that certainty than I will be better not because I want to be loved but rather because I AM loved. And there is a lot less to fear when you know you are loved rather than trying to be loved.
What do you fear? How does this fear control your life? What or who do you abdicate your sense of worth to when you forget that your worth comes from God’s love?