When we put our identity in relationships, we can question if we are valued. People are going to let us down. This post discusses where we find our worth.
It started simply enough. My friend shared some good news. Only she didn’t share it with me first. I heard about it from another friend… A friend had a physical need and I was there front and center. When I was facing my own storm, I did not hear from her for weeks and then she never mentioned what we both knew I was going through… A good friend canceled plans and didn’t try to reschedule.
Each time, I tried to convince myself that my friends’ actions were unintentional and that my friends were really not trying to hurt me. But I was hurt, and ignoring the way I was feeling was actually making it worse. I started distancing myself from these friends. What was going on?
A lot actually. The biggest issue was in the area of identity. God used these situations to show me the depths of my heart. When the relationships in my life were going well, I had a tendency to think well of myself. But when I began to feel unnoticed or worse unwanted I began to see what my heart was really clinging to.
Who am I when no one notices me? Do I matter if my friends don’t care or show up? I had to admit that for me the answer was a hearty no. I was feeding off the attention of others.
This wasn’t a new problem for me. I can remember in 2nd grade being friends with Kellie and Kathy. We were the 3 Ks. I can still remember the day I found out that Kathy had been invited to Kellie’s house to spend the night and I had not been included. I was devastated. How could they leave me out? I knew I could not let them know how much it mattered to me. But, man it mattered. This led to making assumptions about how they felt about me. I never asked them then how they felt… I just made it up… Therefore, I must not matter.
This kind of thinking followed me through high school, college, and even marriage and parenting. My heart had begun to rely on the subtle lie that my worth was based on how others perceived me and treated me. If I was wanted, valued or important, I was noticed, pursued even. That was a recipe for disaster. One that helped me see what I had been missing even as a believer. It’s a simple but profound truth.
He pursued me.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8, NIV
People were never intended to define me or to give me worth. That was God’s job. In my desire to be pursued, I had missed the biggest pursuer of all- Christ. I still have to work on this mindset. My heart still yearns to be noticed and validated, but I must allow God to validate me. That takes a lot of practice and a lot of “taking thoughts captive.”
I’ve seen a few things help:
I have had to admit that I have an addiction to relational idolatry. I depend on the relationships in my life to give me significance. This is so hard to fight. I have to confess and ask for forgiveness where my relationships are sin and where they have taken places in my heart that really belong only to God.
Because I am prone to think I only matter if I am pursued or valued by others, I have to speak the gospel over myself again and again. The gospel tells me that Jesus pursued me when I was hostile to him. My worth is based on His actions not mine.
I have to be quick to admit my wrong and ask forgiveness from those I have offended and I have to pray about situations in which I have been offended. This may lead to me going to that person or it may mean I can lay this hurt down with Jesus.
We can rest in the worth that Christ has given us. Our worth does not have to rely on the hope from friends, or anyone else in life.
I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker or heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1, NIV