For many nothing we ever did appeared to be good enough. Our fears, voice, feelings, and emotions were never validated, yet always discounted. Many of us who were not acknowledged or validated as children or teens at home, sought validation outside of the home. It may have been at school by becoming a perfect student to impress a favorite teacher, professor or girl. It possibly could have been we excelled in sports to receive acknowledgement and validation from your teammates or a coach. Many of us struggled in school because of low self-esteem issues and although I loved playing sports and were likely very good at it, we might have been picked on by not only our teammates, but also our coach. Desperate to be accepted, acknowledged, approved and validated we often turned to whoever would accept and validate us. More often than not it was within a community that included drugs, alcohol and parties. If all we had to do was a line of cocaine and drink a little booze to be accepted, acknowledged, approved and validated, then you could count us in, even though it went against everything we knew was right and believed in. If we are not validated by the ones who are supposed to be loving us and teaching us about life, we will seek it other places.
Many of us grew up in an abusive home, we never felt like we are accepted as part of the family by our parents or siblings. Many of us actually felt like we were the black sheep of the family. Like the unwanted bastard child. Nothing we did was right. Our parents never protected us from the abuse. In fact, it is quite possible at least one parent would instigate the abuse, then stand by and watched while we were being abused. All we wanted and needed growing up was to be accepted and loved by our nuclear family. There is no worse feeling than feeling like your own family has abandoned you. Often times we felt like God had also abandoned us. Eventually craving acceptance, we start looking for acceptance in all the wrong places.
Where does our worth come from one might ask? I believe our self-worth comes solely from God, or at least that was his plan for our life. Psalm 139:13-14 says – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Unfortunately, Gods plans for our lives are far too often diverted by unsuspecting parents, grandparents, caregivers and others that have an influence on our lives. This is not their fault as they are only doing what they learned from their parents and/or caregivers. Does it make it right? No! But at least it can give us an understanding of why they might have treated and raised us the way they did. However, it’s now time to break the chains that are binding us to our past.
While God fearfully and wonderfully made us, it was our parents’ job to raise us up in Gods image. To raise us up with love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. However, for many of us, just the opposite of this was done to us. Some if not all of these parents were dedicated Christians being shepherded by pastors and mentors teaching from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The tree of law, the tree of death. The tree that says in order to be loved we have to do more to earn that love. Whereas The Tree of Life or the tree of understanding, patience, love, compassion and kindness is the tree we are supposed to be living and teaching from Genesis 2:16-17 (NLT) says – 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Because we were raised and fed from the tree of knowledge and of good evil, our self-worth died somewhere in our upbringing or was non-existing from a very young age.
It is really hard to feel as though you belong when you have a mother or father that treat you as though you are nothing but a burden to them. In many cases we might have a father who was very loving, however due to the fact our parents might have been separated or divorced, we would only see him every other weekend and those weekends were always special and filled with fun and a lot of love. Living with our mother on the other hand might not have been a pleasant experience. Don’t get me wrong there was likely times of fun and games, but they were few and far apart. Our mother possibly would have no problem calling us names, putting us down with vicious words, or beating us, not spanking us, for no apparent reason other than out of their own frustrations. During this period of time our siblings may not have been called names or been punished in the way we were. Many of us by the age of seven or eight might have felt we did not belong in our families at all. In fact, many of us might have felt more like a heavy burden and mistake than anything else. I know I surely didn’t feel loved or like I belonged.
If being of significance means we should be worthy of attention and important as a human being, how is really possible to feel significant if during the most important parts of life we were never validated, made to feel unworthy, unacceptable, and unbelonging? How is it really possible that we feel our life has significance? For years, on the surface I would argue the fact that I was validated, made to feel worthy, acceptable, belonging, and that my life did have significance growing up. However, I was only lying to myself. The truth came out once I entered recovery and did the fearless and searching moral inventory. For years I was only faking it believing I would eventually make it. The problem is, when living a lie, one will never make it. The program of AA tells us we must become rigorously honest if we are to recover. That rigorous honesty starts deep within ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves about ourselves, we are living a lie. If we can’t be honest with ourselves about ourselves, we are lying to God, ourselves, our spouses, our pastors, our children, etc.
Somehow love has a way of coming back full circle if you can just remain open minded and willing to believe that there is a better life waiting for you. That love truly does exist, good people exist and are willing to love you until you can love yourself. Change takes courage, strength, and time. One must be willing to take a risk and walk into and through their fear. Yes, people will hurt you, let you down, lie to you, break your trust, none of which is personal, and has nothing at all to do with you. When I took this step, took a risk and walked into my fear, I was slowly loved backed to life. My mentors validated and accepted me. That assured me with their words and actions that my life is worthy of being loved. That I am enough, not more than or less than, just enough. They helped me to feel as though I did belong, and over time I found a community of people that I truly do belong to. Through it all, I finally believe that my life is very significant, and I have a very important purpose to be alive today. Maybe this is something you have been hoping for, yet thought it was unobtainable. It’s NOT! Like my mentors told me almost daily for several years; Randy, I love you and you are enough, not more than, not less than, just enough, So I say to you, I love you, you are enough, not more than, not less than, just enough.