worth and vulnerability

Most of what I’ll write today are thoughts bounced off this post from Don Miller on the power of vulnerability (how’s that for a topic that makes you draw in your breath a little?), yet another in the cascade of ponderable things I’ve had placed in my path lately. The heart of what’s made me think for the last few hours since I watched it is the video posted on his blog. It’s 20 minutes long, so grab a cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever) and settle in -it’s well worth watching and considering.

My daughter is eleven and a half now, and we were talking the other night about older girls and the inevitable (although I wish it weren’t) conversation of who was “going with” whom in the sixth grade (I have to ask -WHERE do they GO???  -can you see my rolling my eyes?- What a completely laughable way to express that association… Anyway… I digress.). If there’s one thing besides a close walk with God that I hope to impart to my kids (my girls especially), it’s that they need to know who they are in Christ before they will EVER be able to relate in a healthy manner with anyone else, especially the opposite gender. So, we talked, and I explained to her that a lot of the reason these girls are so eager to attach themselves to a boy (beside the fact that they find them fascinating, which she can’t yet seem to understand -“Hold that thought for about five years!” I thought to myself…) is because it makes them feel special. It makes them feel valued. On further thought, -really, it makes them feel worthy, and for a girl going through adolescence, worthiness is an extremely difficult thing to come by.

Actually, worthiness at any age is an extremely difficult thing to discover. It took me about 38 years to find it in any full sense myself, and I’m still on the journey. I think Brene Brown is on to something -a sense of worth is what unlocks the ability to be vulnerable. If I feel I am a worthwhile individual, I will see myself as having something valuable to give that may benefit someone else -connection. If I feel I am empty, flawed, and broken, I will hold myself back -partly out of fear of discovery, partly out of fear of contagion.

Well, we know where emptiness, imperfection, and brokenness comes from, but from where does that mystical thing that gives us worth come? I have to conclude that that mystical “thing” is a Person. Without Christ, our sense of worthiness has no truth behind it. In the video, on seeing that picture of the girl with “I am enough.” written across her chest -something in me responded with a visceral sadness, “No. No, you’re not enough! Neither am I!” And that was when I felt I had to find the missing part. We can not assign worth to ourselves. To say that we can is as absurd as saying that the price of gold determines itself. It doesn’t, of course. We assign worth to it, and the price changes every day. Intrinsically, yes, it has value, but the amount of that value is bestowed upon it. So it is, I believe, with ourselves as imago Dei.

“We love because He first loved us.” -I John 4:19

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -I John 4:10

Our worth can not originate within ourselves.

Yes, this relates to the old doctrine of total depravity, but if we stay there, what a miserable people we have become! Depravity is only the starting point, the raw material that God transforms when he breathes his Spirit-life into us and makes us new. Our incredible Creator takes our mess and makes it a seed of hope for our transformation into a people of worth, a people dearly loved -a people who are worthy of being loved at all! When we resist the Spirit and yet insist that our worth intrinsically originates from ourselves, we lie to ourselves in the worst way. Anything we ever have possessed, anything we ever were or are that is of value is covered in the fingerprints of our Creator. To deny that is as silly as the painting that signs itself.

The beauty of our worthiness is found in transformation. Our worth is found in the fact that we, while we were yet sinners, were desperately loved by a God who would not give up on us, however many times we ignored, forgot, scorned, cursed, hated him right back. We shake our fists at Him, and he takes our hand and kisses it. Who can understand a God like that? That is the kind of love that transforms hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. That is the kind of love of which He makes us worthy. He makes us worthy.

And when our worth is in Christ, when we understand that the same hands that create such incredible beauty in the world around us are the same ones that designed us, sculpted our frame and set our heart beating, we can embrace that worth in a way that frees us to be truly, completely vulnerable. If we are becoming one with Christ, to love ourselves is to love the Christ in us, to know that the life in us is from the Spirit, to know that we are children of the Father. We are worthy because He makes us worthy. We can be vulnerable because we know He loves us unconditionally, always sees His beauty in us, and wants us to live His love into others. When we know we are loved, we know we are worthy. When we know we are worthy, we find the confidence to open ourselves and shine His love, His glory into those around us.