*Attention : vulnerability and shame here as I typed this.
I didn’t realize how badly I struggle with self-worth until last September or how much I seek people to find my worth instead of Christ. You see, when depression and anxiety hit me, it hit hard. Completely out of nowhere and HARD. I don’t even think it was gradual. Looking back now, it seems like it came overnight. I was extremely down. I was intensely sad. I was in pretty severe fear when it came to my job. I couldn’t handle my children. I couldn’t handle my home life. I cried. I wanted to stay in bed. I was scared to fail and cried uncontrollably when I made a mistake. I felt completely hopeless and very, VERY unworthy of the help that was offered. Completely unworthy. Being depressed + extreme feelings of unworthiness was the perfect storm to send me into a tailspin.
I was convinced that my family and friends didn’t like me or care about me and that they’d be better off without me. Even when my friends said they loved me and cared about me, I pushed them away in complete disbelief that anyone could ever love or care about me. And my friends were all precious, truth-filled, Jesus-loving friends. The friends God put into my life knowing I’d go through this desert. Friends I did life with. Friends I seek for wisdom. Friends that were the ones I knew and they knew that God had placed ahead of me, beside me, and behind me in life. They were with me the entire step of the way. That is, until I pushed them too far.
Why did I push them? Unintentionally, because I felt completely unworthy of anything they offered. I didn’t deserve them. They needed to just let me go. I pushed to see if they’d stay. It wasn’t until recently that a sweet, very wise friend described it perfectly to me. She told me that I was “basically entering into relationships with the expectations that others are going to validate you and make you okay and good enough.” She continued saying “it’s not their job and it is an unfair expectation to place on them. But, you’re doing it out of desperation just to be proved worthy and loved. You have zero bad or selfish intentions, but it is a very flawed method, which I think you’re finding out. When it doesn’t work, it sends you into a tailspin.” Then she stated that “you’re barking up the wrong tree! You’re begging an orange tree to give you an apple. It’s not going to ever satisfy that need. It has no apples. These friendships will never be enough to provide you your worth. They don’t have it to give no matter how much you beg them for it. They can’t now or can’t ever produce for you what you’re asking of them. And the moment one of them gives you a taste of acceptance and worth, it’s gone as soon as you get it and now you have to instantly chase after it again. It’s as if you enter them with expectations and a burden for them to have to help you with your worth. As if all of your friends have jobs in your relationship. You’re putting it on them to make you okay. It’s not their job. It’s yours and God’s.”
I loved her words. She gets me! Basically – I live in such a way that I need my close relationships to prove their liking of me because of how unworthy I have felt for so long. If I push hard, sometimes being hurtful towards them, and they still come crawling back, that tells me I matter and they truly care. Like I really am worth it, so they won’t let me go. So when I did push and they stepped away, I took it very personally each time and it hurt worse each time it happened, only increasing my feelings of unworthiness.
Slowly, I’m learning a hard lesson. It took losing a friend and making other friendships so unhealthy for me, plus adding medication so I could think clearly, to realize what I was doing. This was happening all the way through my desert. The desert I’m still in, which makes healing way harder for me. I love deep. Man, I love my friends that God put in my life. But I also hurt deep. And I imagine I hurt them just as much by not letting them help me.
The lesson I’m learning is that I will NEVER find my worth in people. They will never give me what the Lord does. And He doesn’t have to prove it. He did that when He sent His Son to die on the cross for me. This is a big adjustment for me to change my thinking and my actions and I’m struggling. But something that sweet, wise friend also gave me was words to write down on a card so that I can remind myself each time I seek a friend to prove my worth …
I love the words in Matthew 6:26 where it says “Look at the birds of the air: they neither reap nor sow nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” And in Psalm 139:14 where it says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That alone proves our worth in Him. And that’s all that matters.
Lord, You have already declared us worthy. Please remind me of that daily. That I will never find my worth in the people You place in my life. That they are here to speak truth to me, but, ultimately, my worth is in You. Please help me walk in that each day. In Your Son’s Name, Amen.