Jesus loved me when I didn’t.
Have you ever beat yourself up over something?
Have you ever defined yourself by something that could change?
Have you ever misplaced something valuable? Like your mama’s pearls, or your sister’s favorite shoes, or the flash drive with your entire project on it?
or your self worth?When I was in late elementary school I got fat. Annnnnnd I stayed that way until a blessed combination of weekend family cycling outings and a growth spurt spread my mass out to a height that put me in a healthy BMI range. (I think.) For the most part, I don’t remember being acutely aware that I was the fat kid. Once, a classmate commented that “I needed PE,” when I was bummed about being placed in it, so there’s that, but the rest of the friends that I’d had as a kid never made me feel less valuable because of my size. (Props to their parents for raising nice people.) So, in my little bubble of oblivion, I just operated like everyone else, and by the time I was in high school I was around an average size, so I never judged my own body as fat or less than in any sense.
In college my weight fluctuated up and down, and it finally sunk in that I would always have to be active if I wanted to be thin-which I did. My fifth year of college (victory lappers, unite!) I got into weight training with several of my classmates and was thrilled to find that my body reacted *exceptionally* well to a whole lot of weights and some cardio thrown in.
I kept it up during my gap year & 12 months out of undergrad I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in. There were hints of visible abs on my stomach–and I felt great about that.
Fast forward through the first semester of grad school, throw in some emotional roller coaster events, and I pretty much walked away from exercise (ironic pun, anyone?) and drowned my stress and sorrows in late night Netflix binges, minimal sleep, lots of crying, and a new found need for caffeine. (I do not recommend such a coping method.) Anything I’d learned as an undergrad exercise science major was far from my mind and my priorities. And up crept my weight. And up. And up. And my self worth sank farther down toward non-existent.
This cycle continued until one day I looked in the mirror and burst into tears because the sight of my own reflection made me feel angry and repulsed. There were no longer positive thoughts about blossoming abs and growing delts. They’d been buried by harsh criticisms I wouldn’t dream of saying to another person and a delusional idea that no one could love a girl that looked like that, myself included.
I had bought into a lie that my value was tied to the number on my clothing tags and the width of my silhouette. And that is a lie straight from the pits of Hell. A lie that will tangle up the sweetest parts of you and turn them into bitterness, anger, envy, and death. A lie that will tear you down and wear you down to keep you distracted from the truth. A lie that is easily believed when you’re looking at the world for affirmation. A lie that lives in darkness and cannot exist in the presence of light.
I’d been living many years apart from anything resembling a relationship with Christ and those choices left me vulnerable to devaluing and degrading myself. Thankfully, by His grace and perfect timing I started a Bible study, began praying again, found a church home, and started dragging my behind out of bed to exercise–during the winter (when I could layer up and see less of myself) all within a few weeks. Slowly, but surely, and sometimes frustratingly, my body is getting stronger again, and to the relief of my own mental weaknesses and the neglected parts of my closet, thinner.
More importantly though, when I brought my heart to Jesus asking Him to make me more like Him, my thoughts had to follow suit–the critical, self-destructive thought patterns had to be replaced with truths and love.
So I ask you again, have you ever beat yourself up over something? A failed something, a lost something, an ended something?
Have you ever defined yourself by something that could change? Your weight, your sport, your job, your significant other, your lifestyle?
When we do this we pile up a handful of compliments (or likes), and accomplishments, and good feelings and we sit our self worth on top of it. But our piles sink and fall and get knocked over by insults and hurts and failures.
When we sit our self worth in the hands of Jesus Christ there’s no pile to be knocked down.
When the insults, the hurts, the failures try to knock yout down they’re met with the firm foundation of a Savior. A Savior that reminds you and tells the world that your value is inherent because you are made in the image of an Almighty God (Genesis 1:27). A Savior that promises your worth has not expired because you’ve got hope and a future coming your way (Jeremiah 29:11). A Savior that doesn’t call you valuable because you look a certain way or do a certain thing or are a certain something; He calls you valuable because He loves you (John 3:16).
So I encourage you to look into your heart and ask, where have I set my self worth?
And if it’s on a pile of human constructions, won’t you pick it up, and bring it to Jesus?
I pray that whatever it is that makes you feel valuable you find it underwhelming and insignificant in comparison to the love of Jesus. I pray that on days when you can’t find a single thing about you that makes you feel worthy, you’re reminded that the Creator of the universe shaped you right down to your fingerprints–because you are worth that much care to Him. I pray that when the world tries to kick over your pile, it has to stop and look twice because Jesus is what they find instead.