Worthiness

I recently finished reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I read this book entirely too fast. I tend to do this when I find something especially compelling. Instant gratification is an issue for me, I like shiny, I like new and different. Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher and her book is all about just that: shame and vulnerability and how everyone has experienced these emotions to varying degrees.

It was the aftermath of the read that started to churn some things up in my life; going back over some of the ideas I had missed in the rush to finish the first time. I began to really grasp what Brown was saying and realized how profoundly short I had fallen and how off base I am currently.

I could go on and on about the theories and I could list quote after quote where I found myself saying ‘that’s me!’ How did she know?!

One idea in particular has been turning over in my head and it keeps coming up in conversation… the idea of ‘wholehearted living’ and ‘worthiness.’ It’s the idea that there are people in this world who are able to live their lives fully present, fully content with their current circumstances. They are aware and confident and secure in knowing that they are enough, they belong. They are worthy of love.

Brown interviewed people who she perceived as ‘wholehearted.’ Because I’m an obsessive comparison junkie, I obviously thought to myself – would I be one of the people Brene Brown would have interviewed?

My pride says yes, but I know that the answer is a resounding no. Here’s why:

I am one of the most self-criticizing people I know. I can’t give myself a break, I’m a perfectionist, and I’m terrified of actually being loved or appreciated because I know I will inevitably let people down. I don’t think I can’t be trusted. I have two sides: worthy Rachel and unworthy Rachel. It’s a constant push and pull between the two and sometimes I think to myself: this is never going to end. I’m never going to figure this out. I’m going to be stuck in my never enough-self-absorbed-over-emotional skin for the rest of my life. I don’t think anyone can lead me well, there’s too much going on. I will inevitably self-sabotage and ruin everything in my path.

Freedom is impossible.

Anyone else? Do you ever feel like you know who you want to be but you have no idea how to become that person? Kind of like your brain knows what to do but you can’t actually make yourself do what you want to do?

[I love the reminder in Romans 7:15-20 where Paul explains his experience of this very thing]

Do these comments sound like someone who is living wholeheartedly, who knows they are enough? No.

I write that with tears in my eyes because I know how true it is.

I don’t think I’m worthy, I don’t live wholeheartedly, and the constant push and pull between my two warring sides makes me so shaky and nervous that I can barely function. Ups and downs, as I said in my last post, dictate my life these days.

I thought that by 25, I’d have things more figured out. I’ve found myself on my knees almost daily, apologizing to God for not living a worthy life. I’m just so sorry. I want to serve God with my whole heart, but I get in the way. I tear myself down. I block myself from the blessings of God because I don’t think I deserve anything good.

I hate this, I hate articulating these things, but it’s true.

So, where to go from here? I’m at rock bottom – again.

I remember when I first started following Jesus. I was a sophomore in college. I had gotten myself in to a bad situation and the result caused me to fall in to a deep place of unworthiness. I didn’t feel worthy of my friends and the disconnection from the small handful of people I actually did hurt was so painful that I couldn’t act normal around the people that really did love me – my family, my closest friends, etc. It was the epitome of unworthiness. In the end, it was the disconnection that was the most painful, not the regret for my actions.

I found myself at church one weekend because, what else am I going to do?

Cue Jesus. I don’t remember a lot from that season of life, honestly, I just remember thinking that the only truly safe place I have is Jesus. I knew that my God didn’t judge me; I knew I was forgiven, and I started down a path towards worthiness.

What God revealed to me this week is that I’m right back in that place I was in when I was a sophomore in college. I’m lonely and I feel isolated as a result of my own actions. The perceived disconnection I’ve been feeling from those around me is enough to make me want to scream.

I got one tiny little whisper from God today, as I was journaling:

Keep moving.

I think there are seasons of life that just knock you on your ass. If following Jesus is like being in a race, I’ve fallen. I’m on the ground and I’ve got some wounds, and those wounds are going to take time to heal but I know I have a high tolerance for pain. I can still run with fresh wounds, but it might be more painful than I’m used to for a while.

Just because we go through downright painful and utterly shameful seasons of life as a result of the sin in our lives, that does mean we aren’t still in the race and it doesn’t mean we can’t keep going. I feel like stopping right now, I really do. I’ve been having regular crying meltdowns in my car – the ugly kind. But what I got from God today (and it doesn’t make me feel better yet) is so simple… keep moving. Stop, stopping and melting down. Keep going. I’m still here. I’m still with you. You’re going to be okay. It might be slow going, it might be painful but you’ve got to get up.

I’m not there yet, I’m not living a worthy life, I’m not wholehearted but I’m going to keep moving. I’m going to push through the shame and I’m going to be strong because that’s who I am.

I don’t feel worthy today, but tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to drag myself up, I’m going to get back in the race.

RD

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Depleted

Ups and downs, euphoria and despair, joy and sadness, confidence and insecurity – it seems like my life the past month has been a bundle of paradoxes and contrasts.  I’ve found myself having more and more days that slowly dissolve in to private meltdowns. It’s a roller coaster, a really emotional one.  I’m not okay right now, but I will be.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Let me be specific.  Three weeks ago, I emotionally blew myself to smithereens.

It’s been described to me as a perfect storm, what happened.   It was the terrifying and irresistible temptation that was created when my competing desires aligned with my circumstances.  The thing I thought I wanted, what I’ve thought about, fixated on, prayed for and against at times had been dangling in front of me like a carrot for years.  It was always just out of reach.  But one evening, over beers, that damn figurative carrot came within reach for the first time – really, it was handed to me.

There are things in our lives that are so tempting and lucrative, it’s almost impossible to say no.  I’ll let you fill in the blank with what that might be for you.  What’s the one thing, if it was put in front of you, you’d take it without a second thought?

I said yes to the carrot, I said yes because it was what I thought I wanted.  Honestly, I had eliminated the possibility of the words that were said to me, to ever be said.  For three years, I longed for those words, that realization, I prayed for a switch to flip.  Instead, some time in the past year a switch flipped for me.  I developed the strength and discernment to put my competing desires away, I forgot that they even existed until that box was re-opened.

The weight of me taking what I wanted was so much heavier than I anticipated and the fallout ended up being severe.  Emotionally, my ‘yes’ meant euphoria, panic, sadness, confusion, and rejection… in that order more or less.  Now, my yes sits idle in a corner of my mind.  It doesn’t seem to belong there.  It was never what I wanted, I know that now.  It was the idea that was shrouded in mystery and intrigue.  Competing desires are a scary and powerful thing – purifying our hearts for God is a daily battle.

I said yes to what I thought was a perfect alignment of personal desire and God’s will.  I got exactly what I thought I wanted and it didn’t satisfy in the ways I thought surely it would.  In fact, it ended up damaging the relationships I hold most dear and left me feeling emotionally depleted, insecure, and untrustworthy.

It would be easy for me to say that this was an attack.  I could say it was Satan that manipulated something good, convinced me that I wanted more and that I wasn’t truly content, and leveraged it to blow up my life and my stability.  As a result, I’m shaky on my feet, I’m struggling to trust myself again, I’m disoriented and I don’t feel like I belong in the skin that did what I did.  Satan takes good things and twists them in to bad things through deception.

Here’s the thing.  No plan of the enemy will ever separate me from God, God is still working all the time and the battle is won.  I will praise Him in the midst of difficult circumstances because it is there that I learn and grow.  There is a beauty and strength to be found in shaky seasons.  When I am unstable, I have to lean more on God for my stability.  God is teaching me that He is enough and that I am enough – even when I think I’m terrible and unlovable.

Emotionally, I’m all over the place.  But I have a sense of clarity that I’ve never had before.  I might be shaky on my feet, but my foundation in Jesus is stronger than ever.  I can stand firm in knowing that He is in control, even when I think I am.  Even if this was some twisted and sinister plan, I’m still standing and I’m still going to give God the glory.  He still reigns in my life.  I might feel distant from God right now, but I am trusting that in time and as I continue to seek Him, he will be faithful in renewing my mind and transforming my heart.  I will be a better woman of God for this.

I have to remember where I was before this happened.  I was running towards Jesus with nothing in front of me.  We might get off track, but that doesn’t mean the work that God has done in our lives becomes invalid.  I have to remember that the work God was doing in me before this is still valid, but that is going to take some time (and counseling).

God knows what is best for us; he is a perfect parent, a perfect Father.  He knows our competing desires intimately.  He knows that there are desires in my life that are so strong, they will derail and distract me every time – the only thing that will truly quench the unquenchable thirst in my heart is Him.  The true desire of my heart is Jesus.  I know that the only thing that will ever truly satisfy and the only thing that is guaranteed to deliver every single time is God’s grace.

Next time I see a carrot dangling in front of me, I’m going to take a minute to thank God and give the glory to Him before I make a decision to take it.  There are times when our desires will align with God’s will but to Him be the glory for those moments.  I will choose to surrender first to the will of God and out of the overflow of my full heart will I then take the best course of action.

Don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else.  Where you are right now is God’s place for you.  Live and obey and love and believe right there.  1 Corinthians 7:17 MSG

RD

About

Hello, my friend.  I don’t know how you ended up here, reading this, but I pray it’s because of the same reason that I’m writing.  With that, I invite you a little deeper:

My name is Rachel, and I love Jesus.  I’m 25 years old, currently employed at Flatirons Community Church serving as one of the Associate Directors of the Young Adults Ministry.

I lived most of my life thinking that I was in control until I was a sophomore in college.  It was then that Jesus came [back] in to my life, and showed me that I’ve been running in the wrong direction.  I was pulled in to this crazy race called ‘chasing after Jesus’, a race you can’t win and you can’t ever finish.

I love the metaphor that is painted in the verses of Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

I believe God is real.  I have to fight for that belief every single day, I doubt often.  I’m far from perfect, and I will probably never be any version of perfection that I think I need to achieve.  I compare myself to people and I can be domineering.  I’m rarely content and I’m always hungry for more than what I have.  When I get what I want, it’s never good enough.  My insecurities can be crippling, and my need to be the best separates me from God in ways that I can’t always articulate.  I isolate myself from people because of my fear of being hurt or loved and then disconnected, and I am afraid that I am a very self-absorbed human.  This is my thorn, this is my sin, this is my burden.

Because Jesus is everything, we are free to be nothing.  We are asked to do one thing: Love Him.  There is so much freedom and security in that.  I can rest in knowing that my love for God is enough.  I am learning that I am worthy.  I’m learning how to throw off the ‘sin that entangles.’

What would life look like if we really started to run this race, together?

I believe that there is infinite power in the simple belief that God is real.  I believe that women are strong and have the ability to lead in ways they never thought possible.  I believe that wisdom comes from the Lord and everyone has an abundance of it.  I believe that God looks at you, and me, and sees potential in all of us. In every life stage, every difficult circumstance, and every heartbreak God is there and He is going to use you in your dedication and obedience to Him.

So, let us run the race marked out for us – with perseverance.  Let us encourage each other, challenge each other, but above all let us run after God as an outpouring of our adoration for Him.

I’m writing for me, I’m going to share what God has been doing my life and process is a raw and real way – I hope you can relate to the insane things I’m surely going to construct.  I have so much to learn, and my hope is that these words don’t fall on deaf ears.

RD