“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)