Recently I was working on some Beth Moore homework for the Daniel Bible study, when I came to some questions I had a hard time answering—but not in the way you would expect. This particular lesson was focusing on the driving force that our culture can have on our sense of self-worth, and each question was designed to illuminate how a low opinion of yourself can cause you to steer off course without even realizing why. I completed the lesson and I was definitely impacted—just not in the way Mrs. Beth had probably intended!
The big eye-opener came as I considered these questions, flipping back through the card catalog of my memory to try to come up with concrete memories of feeling insignificant, unloved, or of little value. I scanned early-childhood to the present and, shockingly, came up empty handed. Until being pressed to write something down on paper, I hadn’t really considered it, but as I sat there in my chair, armed with my pen and ready to write a novel, I found I had no material to work with.
How had I managed to get through my life with a firm, conscious, unshaken belief that I was instinsically worth something, that I was loved unconditionally, that while definitely not perfect, I was valuable? I say all of that at risk of being thought down right, stinking prideful, but I hope you see what I’m getting at. It’s not that I’ve gone through life thinking I’m God’s gift to mankind! Goodness sakes, God forbid I ever take the first step to even begin down that road. Rather, what I’m saying is that I have lived my life feeling secure in who I am, without being plagued by feelings of low value or worthlessness.
Of course the big question is, WHY?
Before thinking of it for even 5 seconds, I knew the answer. My family. Most notably my mom. I grew up in an environment where love was not doled out based on performance, talents, intellect, or anything else. I was simply loved for who I was, and that love and acceptance was infused into everything I did. My days were filled with affirmation, not only on what I could do, but on who I was as a person. Never did I feel my personality needed molding, my shape needed altering, or my abilities needed honing in order to gain love. Instead, I grew up believing it was okay to be me, just as I was, because my mom loved me, my family loved me, and most importantly, God loved me.
Examples popped into my head, one right after another, allowing me to see how intentionally my mom and others had fought to instill in me the sense of my God-given worth in the face of a culture that seeks to demean and belittle. I remember mom and others showing an interest in the things I enjoyed, praising me for any abilities I had, without criticizing those I was lacking. I remember her telling me, a chubby little second grader, that I was the perfect size. I remember her screaming wildly in the stands as I played basketball, cheering my heart and determination when there was very little skill worth mentioning. I remember her encouraging spouts of individualism as I overtook attempts to do my own hair and pick out my own clothes, believing all the while that I had accomplished both with raving success, with only old photographs left to belie that reality. Just a few memories in a pool with a myriad of others, yet I hope you see what I’m saying: I didn’t walk around thinking I was the hottest thing on the block. I simply believed that it was okay to be me because of all of the encouragement I received doing exactly that.
I don’t think I have ever recognized the value of that gift until now—the priceless value of self-worth, acceptance, and love. And the more I think about, the more I realize that’s probably one of the greatest gifts my mom and family ever gave to me. They gave me the freedom to accept myself and to feel secure and loved in who God created me to be. I never had a hard time questioning God’s unconditional love for me, flawed as I am, because my family had already lavished their unconditional love all over my life, faults and all. They taught me that we are all valuable, not because of what we do or how smart we are, but because we loved by God. It is HIS love that gives us value.
So what’s the point?
I walked away from that study, not only with a sense of deep gratitude and humility, but also filled with a passionate desire to do everything in my power to instill a sense of self-worth and value into my girls. I don’t want them growing up feeling that they only have value if they are pretty, talented, popular, intelligent—just fill in the blank because the list doesn’t end! I want them to grow up knowing that they are valuable because the God of the universe created them, and loves them, and wants them to be His. I want them to know that no matter what tv, music, movies, friends, or anyone else tells them, they have self-worth just as they are. I know that it’s not a one-man job, but I also know that my mom made an impact on my life too big to be put into words. All I’m saying is that I want to do everything I can to show them through words and actions that they are special. I want them to grow up believing that God has a purpose, bigger than anyone’s foresight or vision, to use them to make a difference for Him. It’s no small order, but then again, I don’t have a small God. I pray that with His help, He can show me how to be a mom to my girls, just as my mom was to me. What bigger purpose could God call me to than that?