Why do unsolicited words about the size of my family sometimes hurt so much? Do I fear others may be right—that my family should be different? Maybe I did something wrong to cause the miscarriages even though the doctor said otherwise? Do their thoughtless words remind me of something I don’t like— that there are things in life I can’t control, losses I cannot reclaim?
These questions can prod my deepest fears and insecurities. There are times when none of it bothers me and I’m able to live freely, in agreement with the truth. But sometimes my emotions and thoughts go unchecked, and I’m left wondering if the core of who I am is flawed because my life is not like the person with all the advice, comments, and questions. Maybe they’ve figured out what “the standard” should be for families.
Reading this, it may seem easy to think, “That’s not true Chrissy! You’re just as good as anyone else!” But deep in our hearts, whether we would admit it or not, there are moments when we all question our worth. Certain situations in life tend to bring out insecurities. When faced with them, we grapple for something to hang onto—some truth about who we really are. Something to make us feel approved and valuable.
Without questioning our well worn responses and thoughts in situations that make us feel vulnerable, we set out to repair our damaged feelings on a surface level. We pull out our tool boxes to peruse the usual fixes and choose something to bring a little bit of justice or relief as quickly as possible. We want to move on with life. It’s easy to fall back on what has worked well enough before. Most of the time we want comfort and a sense of security rather than change— even though we know deeper, unexplored thoughts and unquestioned beliefs are festering below the surface.
When something in life makes me question my worth, what do I turn to?
Anger? Trying to prove myself? Trying to prove someone else wrong? Those are options, but we all know what a vicious cycle they create for ourselves and everyone around us. And if the goal is to be sure of who I am in the core of my being and respond to others out of that truth, anger and attempts to prove myself will ultimately fail. They’ll bring momentary satisfaction when I feel justified for a little while, but it won’t last. Someone or something else in life will eventually knock me down again and leave me wondering. Then I’ll be angry again, trying to prove myself right and others wrong. Or I’ll be left feeling defeated, thinking I’m not “as good” as I thought.
There are other options: ignoring the situation, changing the subject, trying to help others understand me better, or just walking away. Depending on the situation, these can be good choices. But without true change in my thinking about who I am, any response is just a temporary fix.
Anger, doubt, or frustration will eat away inside of me until it inevitably comes out onto others. I also can’t take these feelings away by controlling the behavior of myself or others. The solution doesn’t begin outside of myself. I need to be convinced of my worth so if there are lingering effects from others’ words or difficult situations in my life, I have an inner anchor keeping me steady, and can continue well.
So what now?
Honestly, while my responses to others will matter to some degree, I’m far more concerned about the condition of my heart, my source of life. Who I am inwardly and what I believe to be true about myself will determine so much of how I thrive in life. It determines whether I’m able to live from a place of inward peace and trust, or inner turmoil. Self worth flows out of me to affect every choice, relationship, and response.
How do I measure self worth? From the praise or disapproval of those around me? Can accomplishments add something to my self worth? Can failure diminish it? Does my level of education enhance it? Career success? Finally having a week when I accomplish everything I want? My physical appearance? Approval and understanding from extended family on every single life choice I make? My health? How “I’m doing” compared to someone else? My ability to carry children?
Some of these things can be facts about my life.
Someone else may approve of me— or not. I have different accomplishments and failures than others. Sometimes I’ve done well with education and career and sometimes I haven’t. I can get lots of things done in a week or not. My face and body are what they are. Diet and exercise will only change them to a certain degree. I have a hard time carrying children because of the uterine anomaly I was born with.
I could continue talking about facts of my life without ever arriving at the core of who I am. Words from other people or situations that bring out my insecurities are not me, but they can mess with the truth about me if I let them. They can turn my attention away from my truest Source of Life and Worth.
I want my view of self to come from my Creator— the truest authority on what and who I am. I want the condition of my heart and mind to be grace, peace, truth, trust, and rest, rooted and growing out of what He says about me. I want to be secure in this truth so I’m able to value others the way He does and not be thrown off when others fail to see value in me. I know I’ll never get it perfect, but when I am hit by unsolicited comments about my life situation, I want my inner being to remain in tact because it is secure in my identity as my Creator’s beloved. While I do want to respond to others well, my first concern is what I believe about myself.
Next week I’ll share truth from what our Creator says about us—His beloved—and I hope it encourages you, as it has me, to remember who you are no matter what is happening in your life at the moment.
Thanks for reading!
©2018 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
“I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. Self rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved’. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.” -Henri Nouwen
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Prov. 4:23
“For our benefit, God often allows us to experience circumstances that will enable us to recognize our blind adherence to Satan’s deceptions. Many times these circumstances seem very negative, but through them we can learn valuable, life-changing truths.”
-Robert S. McGee, The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes
One summer in college I experienced life changing mentorship from a Bible Study facilitator at PSI (Psychological Studies Institute) in Chattanooga, TN. We studied through The Search for Significance (Robert S. McGee) and another book together. I’m not recommending this book as the ultimate tool in life, but God used it and the woman who mentored me to help me understand more of who I am, my value to God, and from that to be able to appreciate the value of others in a healthy way. It’s something I’m still growing and learning in, but this was the start.
Next week I’ll add a few more thoughts to this, then I want to share some stories I love in the Cross Cultural Living & Motherhood categories.
To read my stories of Motherhood, Miscarriage, Changing Expectations, and flying on an airplane in labor, check out my book, Flying in Labor, on Amazon.com. My stories are set in the beautiful countries and cultures of the Himalayas. Available in Paperback & Kindle.