In Loving Me, You Made Me Lovable (On The Anesthetizing Effects of Low Self Worth)

In loving me, you made me lovable.

“In loving me, You made me lovable.”-Brennan Manning

Constantly, we are bombarded with messages via social media of positivity and self worth. From body positivity to accepting who we are in all other areas of life, and loving ourselves. It can be daunting sometimes, frequently hearing all these messages telling us to love ourselves, when we absolutely do not.

In a study aimed at school children to research self esteem, 69% of boys and 60% of girls in middle school answered yes to the question “are you happy the way you are?”

When high schoolers were surveyed, the numbers plummeted to 46% of boys and 29% of girls answering affirmatively. Now, I’d be curious to see what kind of statistics a longitudinal study of the same children from middle to high school would yield. And even more curious to hear how they’d answer that question in adulthood.

There’s no way to have solid statistics for this, but it’s estimated that 8 percent of Americans suffer from anxiety and disorders related to depression. That’s somewhere in the ballpark of 25 million people.

This fear of failure, of not being good enough, of being unworthy has seized us as a culture. We live in an age that is gripped by the terror of not measuring up. So the dichotomy between what people actually feel vs. the “positive” messages on sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed tells me that we are also a culture that is passionate about finding the answers to all of our dysfunction.

The numbers also tell me that it is often the insecure that seek a cure for insecurity, the damaged that try to fix, those who feel unworthy who try their darnedest to remind others of their worthiness and inspire hope in others.

I guess that’s why I write this. Because I, too, have felt worthless. I’ve felt worn down, beaten up, completely unworthy. And I’ve heard those stories from so many other people and I constantly pray for an end to the epidemic that is sparked by lies of the Enemy. The Gospel says that, though in my flesh I may feel worthless, I am made worthy by the blood of Jesus. It shows me, no matter how dire the circumstances, no matter how bleak my current outlook may be.

C.S. Lewis said that faith “is the art of holding onto things your reason once accepted in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.”

I write this to encourage you, if you are reading this and feeling unworthy, I want to assure you that, if you are in Christ, he has made you whole. In his love, no fear or insecurity or sin has seized you where he hasn’t provided an escape route for you. No pain, no suffering, no lack of wisdom, no enemy can overpower you, you are free. In loving you, Jesus has made you lovable. He calls you friend, he calls you a son or daughter of the God who keeps you going.

Self-worth is an illusion, it is a band-aid for deeper problems. The cure for low self-esteem is listening to the words of the One who created you when he professes his undying love for you. Be swept up in that. If all of this sounds too idealistic and cheap for you, I want you to know that, no matter what you do or don’t believe, you are loved. The love of God is real, it is strong, it is persistent, it has not left you by the wayside. It is a strong hand to rescue you from yourself. The Gospel is not just for me, it is for you. And it is this, the God of the universe saw our pain, our sin, and our desperation and he became like us, died a very real and brutal death on the Cross and rose again, defeating death once and for all. And he’s calling you.

In the words of the monologue by the band Life in Your Way:

The Kingdom of God is for the burnouts, the broken, and the broke, the drug addicts, the divorced, the HIV positive, the herpes-ridden, the hopeless, for the outcasts that have been created by the church, and for the outcasts of our society that have been created by us. The Kingdom of God is for the brain damaged, the incurably ill, for the barren, for the pregnant too many times, and the pregnant at the wrong time. This is for the over-employed, the underemployed, the unemployable, and the unemployed. This is for the swindled, the shoved aside, the left aside, the replaced, the incompetent, and the stupid. This is for the emotionally starved and the emotionally dead. The Kingdom of God is for the bigoted, the murderers, the child molesters, the brutals, the drug lords, the terrorists, the perverted, the raging alcoholics, over consumers, the incredibly ugly, the dumb, the ignorant, the starving, the filled, and the filthy rich. The Kingdom of God is for everyone and the Kingdom of God is for me.

That’s me, and that’s you. I write this for all of us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

Today, I don’t have anything original to share, but this quote by Brennan Manning made me deeply thankful for the overwhelming grace of God and I want to share it with you:

“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask.

Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There *we* are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
― Brennan Manning

Pouring From An Empty Glass


Capture

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:30-31)

My heart is so heavy tonight.

Somewhere in the world, someone is suffering. It might be two cities over, it might be next door. It may be happening in your head.

All around me, I feel the shockwaves racing from the epicenter of a crumbling world. An earth that groans for reconciliation, a kingdom that has, for so long, run from its king but is desperate for Him. And maybe they don’t even know that he is what they really desire.

I write in flowery, pretentious prose because the groaning is too close to home, and I am tired. On days like today the purpose behind my calling to be minister of the Gospel of Jesus is so very clear, and the need so evident, but even still, so very hard to grasp in my hand.

I feel like an empty glass, striving to continue pouring out, even when nothing is left. If I were smarter, or older and wiser, I might just put the cup back under the faucet and allow myself to be filled again before I try to continue giving. But my go to is always to stress about it and demand answers to questions I’ve not been brave enough to ask.

Seasons of transition and turmoil often feel like seasons of silence, and I’ve not figured out why. To be separate from others is one thing, but to feel like your prayers are going unanswered or that God has left are the most terrifying times one can experience.

To ask God where he’s gone but then remembering: I have pastoral aspirations and responsibilities, I’m not allowed to ask those questions.

But then. Maybe sometimes it takes talking to an impartial audience. Oh, that’s it, I’ll write a blog. I’ll be transparent about my struggles and questions and folks will be sure to solicit some help, or at least someone will congratulate me for being open and honest (because thats the fashionable thing to do), that or it’ll bring out the “I told you so’s” from the atheist crowd.

Maybe writing these thoughts will un-knot my mind long enough to let me hear God speak. Maybe if I quiet myself just enough…

…They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…

Weariness. It’s probably the most poetic word to ascribe to that poured out glass feeling. It’s such a beautiful way to say “beaten down, washed up, beyond tired.”

When I look back on the past ten years of my life, I’m met with a reminder from God. It was always during the times I’d described myself as weary that God spoke most powerfully into my situation. It was always when I was at my wit’s end that he either gave me the answers I so feared or used me, by words and actions, to speak the truth of the Gospel into the lives of others.

Suffering doesn’t always hit you over the head and grind you into the dust. Sometimes it’s that dull ache in your chest that won’t go away. The anticipation that comes from the fear that something bad is about to happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

And then, though we don’t always have the answers to life’s burning questions, we press on. We wait on God to speak or to propel us into the very action that our souls crave without knowing it.

I’ll say from experience that God has used me most effectively when I was in transition. When I stopped moping and accepted that things aren’t always going to be easy or feel good. But God. He saw the needs in my life and in the lives of those around me and he finally spoke. Or maybe I finally listened.

To be filled, we have to put ourselves in a position to receive from God that which restores us and mends our brokenness so that others, seeing the healing of God within us, will be drawn to repentance and salvation and receive what God wants to give them.

At the end of my life, I want to look back and say with resolve that I have poured out all that which was given to me, and to know with confidence that God’s wells never run dry. What you might think is silence could be preparing you for something better.

I preach this not just to you, but to myself. AΩ