Do you remember middle school? Gaw! It’s like the breeding ground for low self-worth! You compare yourself, for better or for worse, with all the other girls. You begin to find your worthiness in popularity, cheer teams, grades, boys’ attention, and friends. Don’t EVEN get me started on what our current tweens and teens have to go thru with social media and body appearance.
I wonder, though, how different middle school is from the adult world. Isn’t the break room a small version of the cafeteria? Don’t we gossip as we fill up our coffee? Don’t we think we’re better or worse than our neighbors because we do or don’t have a certain education or house?
In middle school, our worth might have come in the form of being athletic, intellectual, beautiful, or a great personality. Maybe you thought you were more worthy because you could cheer or calculate numbers or had a crown on your head.
Fast-forward to adult years: We left the cheer team and joined the church team. Now we think we’re more worthy because of our job status or social media likes or 1000 other things. We still struggle to find our worth in the world around us.
You may not admit it or be aware of it, but it’s true.
I’ll admit it. My worth was in the world. And when I didn’t receive the accolades at work, and my friends married and moved on in life, and I didn’t have someone to date, I doubted if I was likable or lovable. I began to choose poorly because I didn’t believe I deserved any better.
Oh, dear younger me! I missed out on some precious years of walking in confidence of who God made me. Thankfully, I realized I needed to break out of the chains that held me back. I had to break from finding my self-worth in people and my circumstances. I began to read and pray.
This is what I learned. The chains were already broken. I was already freed of this struggle. The patterns that began in childhood and adolescence are just patterns.
What do we do to leave behind the patterns of the world? A guy named Paul put it plainly. Renew your mind. Know God. Know yourself. Know Love.
What does knowing God have to do with knowing my worth? As I got to know Him, I realized that He is truth and love. He is consistent and steady and good. I learned that He decided I was worth more to Him than His own son.
Jesus broke the pattern of finding my self-worth in people and circumstances a long time ago. I need to weigh my worth by the life He gave, not by the world He made.
By knowing what God says about me, I know what I say about me. I know truth to counter the lies. I know love to counter the fears.
When you deny, ignore, or doubt your worth, you deny, ignore, or doubt Him. You doubt how good, loving, and creative He is to have designed you the way He did. He wants you to know how great He made you. So start knowing yourself!
And start getting to know God!
What do you think of yourself despite what others say? (Read: what do you think of yourself if you only get 5 likes on Instagram or Facebook?) Do you define yourself by what you know is true or by what others say? (Read: do you know you’re a great friend or wife or teacher because you give your best effort or because others tell you are?)
You’re not alone.
First, let’s answer some questions. What are 5 things that bring you joy? What are 5 positive adjectives that describe you? What do you think you’re good at? What are some things that you are proud of? Do you believe in yourself? Do you know the truths about what you can do and who God says you are?
If you’re not sure, start exploring! At 34 I decided to run a half marathon. Not a runner. My goal, to this day, is still to not walk. But I love it!
I stopped worrying about people’s approval and started looking for God’s and mine.
Second, remind yourself of the answers to those questions. You can do this by posting Scripture, words of affirmations, and truths around your room, home, car, and desk.
Third, test your thoughts. David asks God to test his anxious thoughts. Is it that you really can’t run a mile or is that you think you can’t? Push yourself to do more than you thought you could. One day, you’ll realize you’re doing the thing that you never thought you could do.
The half marathon was the first time I ran more than 8 miles. Every mile marker I saw, I thought, well, if I ran 8 miles, I can run 9. If I ran 9 miles, I can run 10. Before I knew it, I finished 13.1 miles. I believed in myself. I spoke truth to myself. Let’s be honest. I shocked myself!
And I learned that I’m stronger than I believed.
The 2nd commandment says to love your neighbor as you love yourself. So how are you loving yourself? Are you patient and kind and forgiving to yourself? Are you choosing to love yourself with your daily choices? If you’re not doing that well, you probably can’t love your neighbor very well.
In order to love others, you have to love yourself. Accept, forgive, and be kind. Repeat.
Shut down those negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are not loving. Trade them for being positive and productive.
Love is a choice. You choose every day how you will love yourself by choosing what kind of food will fuel your body, by choosing to exercise and release stress, and by choosing positive changes and people in your life. Choose well.
And for all the single ladies, choose better. Settle for more. You are the daughter of the greatest creator, artist, healer, warrior, life-giver of all time. He designed you for better.
You have the power to decide what you’re worth. Choose to renew your mind.
Know God. Know Yourself. Know love.
And last…because there is a beautiful young lady needing a reminder…
I am worth a man opening the door for me every time I get in the car.
I am worth a man changing sides on the sidewalk so that if a car were to cross, he could push me out of harms way.
I am worth a man calling me and hearing about my day, and not texting all of the time.
I am worth a man planning a date with bells and whistles.
I am worth a man surprising me with something I love.
I am worth a man changing his plans so he can attend church with me.
I am worth a man taking me to meet his co-workers and friends holding my hand the whole way.
I am worth honesty, integrity, honor, cherishing, thoughtfulness, patience, and love.
These are things I hope you settle for, but my prayer is that ultimately you know you are worth a man of character and a man of God. That is God’s best for you.
Thank you, Darin, for being that man for me.