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 myself and many others I have helped, 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 God and Evil. The tree of law, the tree of death. 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.”
As for myself, the literal fear of God was instilled in me by the way of emotional, verbal and physical abuse, all in the name of Christ by “Christian parents.” I started questioning my self-worth at an early age. As a young child, my mother was emotionally and physically abusive to me. To be perfectly honest I never really felt loved by her. In fact, as I look back, I feel as though I was more of a burden than a gift. When I was just 10-years old my parents divorced. The way they divorced not only confused me, it left me wondering if I had done something wrong to cause it. Was in deed the reason they divorced. Neither my mother nor father explained anything to me. We left for vacation and he was home. We came home from vacation and he was gone.
A year after my parents divorced, I was told my dad was sick with an infectious disease and I would not be able to see him for a period of time. When I was finally able to see him, it was in a hospital room. Not at his house, not on a fishing trip, not on a camping trip as I was used to seeing him. He was skinny, yellow, and had a beard. Yet every time I saw my dad, he never showed any signs of fear or weakness. He only loved me the best way he could in the condition he was in. Then came that fateful day that ended with a devastating phone call the phone that would change me in ways I never knew possible. My father had passed away, which left me so confused. I thought he was just sick, and he was getting better. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. First, I felt abandoned by my dad when he left us. Now I not only felt abandoned by my dad, but by God if there really was one. Why didn’t anyone tell me he was dying? Why was I lied to? Was my worth as young boy not worth knowing the truth? What had I done so bad to deserve all this? I had no one to comfort me, no one to hold me. I was just left to figure it all out on my own. As a twelve-year old boy, that was pretty difficult at best and nearly impossible to do on my own.
A month or so after my dad’s death there was a brief sign of hope for me. As I walked in my front door after waking home from school, the man that would eventually be my stepfather was sitting on our living room couch. He greeted me in the living room and walked me into my bedroom. Then we sat down on the edge of my bed and he proceeded to let me know that he knew how hard it would it be not having a father. He assured me he would be the father figure I needed and always be there to protect and help me. As we were sitting and talking his hand slowly went down to my crotch and he began fondling me. As we walked out of the bedroom, he put his hands on my shoulder and said; Don’t tell anyone about this, it will be our little secret.” While I felt uncomfortable with the events that took place that day, I thought he was just doing what fathers were supposed to do and that a secret between a boy and father or father figure was okay. And being part of a secret club made me feel special, like I finally had some worth.
Even after the divorce and my father’s death I was still a pretty vivacious little rascal that loved life. Yes, I was questioning my worth to a small degree, but then again didn’t all young boys and girls. My new stepfathers promise proved to be nothing but void and meaningless words over the next several years. The sexual abuse that had started that fateful afternoon had continued and gotten much worse. His constant verbal lashings and physical beatings did nothing but tear me down. By the time I was thirteen or fourteen years old, my self–worth, self–esteem and self-confidence had been completely stripped from me by both my mother and stepfather. The two people that were supposed be raising me in love, building me up, raising me in the ways of Christ, actually destroyed the spirit within me. And yes, they were both “born again Christians” making it even more confusing.
When I entered into recovery, I hated myself. I looked down on myself and constantly put myself down. I felt worthless even with all that I had accomplished in my life. From the outside looking in, I had it all together. But behind the beautiful façade I had built, I was broken in ways no man should be broken. This was where my therapist and mentors came into play. The loved me until I could love myself. They told me that what had happened to me as child was not my fault. They told me I was loved, loveable, and enough. Not more than, not less than, just enough. They not only told me they loved and believed in me, they showed me with their actions by allowing me to do things I never thought possible. If I made a mistake, they didn’t criticize me. They talked with me about the issue and walked me through the proper process so I would not make the same mistake twice. The final phase of the rebuilding process was reconnecting with God. A God that loves, forgives, shows grace, is compassionate and kind. And finally, after thirty-seven years reconnected with Christ. Today my self–worth has returned, I rely only on Christ and few very close and intimate friends to speak their truth into me.
Yes, it is true that our self-worth is supposed to come from God. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Well intentioned parents, teachers, coaches and other caregivers can inadvertently destroy every ounce of self-worth you have. The good news is that it can be restored when you surround yourself with people or a mentor that believes in you and wants the best for you. Take the step and reach out to reputable coach. You are worth it and you deserve to live a life full of love and kindness.