I feel like my life operates in series of patterns and cycles. Am I the only one? It’s kind of like how internet algorithms will take that one time you randomly clicked on an article about vitamins on Facebook and use that as an opportunity to show you every vitamin ad through sponsored posts on Instagram… except in real life.
I’m currently reading two books at the moment: Scary Close by Donald Miller and Swipe Right by Levi Lusko. Both are incredibly well-written, informative, and inspiring. You should definitely read them if you get a chance. Somehow, I ended up reading one chapter from each book and they both were centered around the idea of value. And not just value, but the notion that we are innately valuable. Our lives, our bodies, our choices, and our personalities have value and Scary Close went even as far to say that we add value to others by simply being ourselves.
It seems as though this concept of value has been found its way into my IG feed, my conversations, and even just my private thoughts. I am valuable. Period.
It’s a thought that now brings me peace, but before I would have rejected it as a lie, as a falsehood, as something that may be true for someone else but not me.
The truth is, I’ve put in years of work to try and “make” myself valuable. When I was kid, my first and best friend was my older brother, but very early on (when I was about five) that relationship severed. My five year old brain interpreted that to mean that somehow I was defective. I thought maybe I had been too vulnerable, too open, to affectionate. So I buttoned myself up. I learned to filter my thoughts to the point where people thought I was mute. I didn’t speak up. I tried not to stand out. I turned off my emotions and tried to blend in hoping to be accepted.
That’s when this small yet powerful thought took root: my value was based on my performance. My ability to be quiet, not shake things up, not lean too far left or too far right would allow to people to tolerate me because the real me with my real thoughts and emotions was just too much.
As I retreated into myself, I became super observant and analytical. I would watch people’s reactions to me. Anything that brought wanted attention or acceptance, I rooted my worth in that. Somewhere around the 3rd grade, I began to do really well in school. I became known for getting straight A’s and became known as “the smart one.” I leaned into that identity so hard that over a decade later when I literally flunked out of dental school (okay… not literally… but kind of… see here for the details on that story) it made me question my value.
I feel like these last two years of my life God has been uprooting everything I thought made me worthy or valuable. I had transferred my elementary school thinking to my relationship with God and I guess he’d had enough. Not in an impatient way, but in the way of valuing my spiritual and emotional health enough to show me the truth.
In the past couple of years, I dropped out of dental school, battled depression and anxiety, struggled with sin, and wrestled with God. And in each of these things, I shed an old way of thinking and learned a new part of the heart of God. In dropping out of dental school, I learned that my value didn’t come from grades or careers and that God had my back in every season. In battling depression and anxiety, I let go of the idea that I could rely on myself. I couldn’t trust my own mind, but God is faithful and trustworthy. He is with me in the valley and on the mountaintop. In struggling with sin, I let go of trying to have it all together, of trying to be perfect. I learned that God is a God of grace and loves me regardless of what I do or what I don’t do. In wrestling with God, I released control. I learned that God’s motives are pure and He wants the absolute best for me.
According to Forbes.com, the most valuable gem in the world is the red diamond. In the article, Trevor Nace says, “you may assume that the red color comes from an impurity, but it is actually derived from plastic deformation of the crystal lattice.”
You may think that the things that set you apart come from something impure, but in fact God himself has formed you and that is exactly what makes you valuable.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.Psalm 139:13-14 NIV