I remember those days as a single woman, hoping some guy would like me and choose me. I thought that if some guy, particularly a really nice guy, would choose me, it would mean that I was worth loving — that I had value as a woman. Sadly, I thought that my worth could be determined by a guy. Not only is that dangerous, but it’s false. I thought that marriage and motherhood was where my purpose and value could be found.
Don’t get me wrong, there is great purpose in marriage and motherhood, but your value cannot be found in it. In fact, it is unhealthy for you and your kids if you try to find your value and even life purpose in it.
I remember those days then as a young mother with two young babies. I remember believing that I was a failure because I couldn’t keep my kids perfectly happy all the time, and as a result, they couldn’t keep me perfectly happy. I thought that I could be the “perfect” mother, and my life would somehow be “perfect” as a result.
I remember those days of four and then five kids and one kid who had serious needs. We were seeing a slew of medical professionals, trying to find the cause of his struggles. It was daunting and terrifying. I remember the hopeless and helpless feelings. I remember the anger because I felt so out of control, so afraid, and carried boatloads of shame because I believed that if my kids were “perfect” and happy, then I was a good mother — I had worth. I also believed that if my kids were unhappy and struggling than I was a bad mom and thus didn’t have worth. I can only tell you those were dark and painful days for me. To add to my pain, so many Christian circles didn’t seem to want to know about my pain. To be honest and vulnerable was to admit weakness, and weakness was perceived as shameful and something to hide. For all our talk of God’s grace, it seemed that we understood it so little. It seemed that so many people’s false understanding of Christianity meant that you put on your Christian costume to hide the smell and dirt beneath. It seemed that no one cared how much you hurt — only that you played nice and pretty. The truth is that if we want to truly heal, we need to bring our pain and dirt to the light. Light reveals, but it also heals. This is hard stuff I am writing, but it is the raw truth.
Then, there comes the teen years. There are teen hormones and attitudes, and yes, society has painted it to be worse than it is. Let’s be honest though, it has its ups and downs. Some kids sail through the teen years, and other kids deal with a lot of turbulence along the way. In addition to all of that, we have way more challenges than the past. Now, there is internet and YouTube. There is no great way to completely unplug our kids. Those of us who dare to forbid our kids from owning their own phones or tablets are deemed as too controlling. Our kids like to inform us that we are the ONLY parents who don’t allow this, which is of course not true. The point is, serious dangers are so readily only one click away from our kids. As we found, we may do everything we can to protect our kids, but a neighbor may bring a tablet onto your property while the kids are playing outside and expose them to something you have worked so hard to block. If your worth is based on having kids that are innocent of the world, you are facing a very disheartening battle.
I am not there yet, but I have met strong Christians who enter the health challenges of the elderly years. Suddenly, these aging Christians can’t be as involved and often have to retire from ministries and positions of influence. I have watched those Christians naturally become discouraged and depressed. Why? Because their worth is tied into their usefulness. This lie is so ingrained within our culture. Our society seems to give us a “shelf life,” and even Christians tend to look at the young and their vitality for usefulness. Is it really true that God views us as valuable so long as we can contribute to His Kingdom? Is our value based on our contributions or something/Someone else?
I have ridden the waves of shame that comes when my worth is tied to performance, influence, relationships, innocence, physical attraction, and abilities. I will never be enough when I connect who I am and my value with what I do and how I appear.
I remember that day a little more than three years ago when God awoke me early in the morning and showed me a massive ugly boulder, blocking my view. He spoke to my heart and asked me if I was ready to get rid of the boulder. He told me it was my wrong identity. I told Him that I was. I then saw both of us put our hands on that massive boulder, and it rolled off the cliff like it was nothing more than a paper rock. God then began to reveal the depth of His love and grace to me. I began to glimpse the overwhelming nature of His love.
All the love that I had longed for from a man was what God Himself was only fully capable of giving. My husband is a good and loving man, but he can’t love me like I crave and need. My kids are precious and my greatest treasures on earth, but they can’t give me the joy, peace, and purpose that God can. Ministries are wonderful, but they can also be exhausting, burdening, and trying without me understanding that I must live for an audience of One!
God has given me gifts and abilities, but thankfully, my worth isn’t connected with them. In fact, they become more useful when I understand that my worth is inherently priceless and eternal. My worth is wrapped up in His worth because my identity is wrapped up in His.
“I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.” — Song of Solomon 6:3A