Do you struggle with the same thing I do?
Do you struggle with the belief that you’re not important? Not valuable to the world, or your family/friend group?
Do you look in the mirror and not like what you see?
Do you struggle with your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image? Do you enter relationships or jobs hoping they don’t discover “the real you”?
WELCOME TO THE CLUB, my friend. Studies from around the world have determined that in one way or another, everyone feels this way. Some people hide it under a mask of bravado or swagger, and a few might not even realize how much of their own behavior is compensation for their feelings of inadequacy. (A man like President Trump is easy to psychoanalyze from afar because everything he does is so public: he does virtually everything he does in order to boost his own self-opinion, in hopes of having other people reinforce a positive impression of himself. But if you asked him, he’d probably say he’s the most self-confident man in the world. I truly fear for the day when that all comes crashing down around him, because it seems like he has no internal protection mechanism in place for a sudden lack of that reinforcement.)
I suffered from this (and when I’m honest, I still do from time to time even now, on a smaller and more infrequent scale). I was suicidal off and on from the onset of puberty until my mid-forties – during the vast majority of that time, I was on a series of anti-depressants that I have no doubt kept me alive when things conspired against me. I was hospitalized twice because of my depression in my youth. Despite my objective success (fair warning: braggadocia approaching for the purposes of explanation!), both in school (straight-A student, accepted to Caltech, graduated college as double major in music/math w/ 3.8 GPA) and in my profession (built or rebuilt four separate school band programs from collapse to thriving, generally doubling them in size; twice a regional president in state music education organization), despite being objectively good-looking and happily married with wonderful children (admittedly not all smooth-sailing on either front), despite never worrying about where I would eat or sleep that night, and despite (throughout THAT time frame!) always being in better-than-average health, I thought I was a waste of flesh, a complete failure, and had no reason to live. Nobody really liked me (not sure how I convinced myself of that), nothing I did really mattered (despite being told time and again by my students and their parents how much I helped them), and it would be better for everybody if I just quietly drove out to the desert and killed myself.
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Somehow, I felt simultaneously that I was the best and smartest person in the room, AND the least of the people at the same time. Does that sound familiar to you?
The solution was simple and startling. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, closing in on a decade ago now, something happened to me that I would never have thought about in advance.
The more I learned about God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the more I understood my proper place in the universe.
And the more I understood about my place in the universe of God, the less I could justify feeling down about myself.
Here’s the single thing that keeps my perspective straight: If God loves me enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to accept my punishment for the many, many sins I’ve committed, to be scourged and die in my place? Then He must love me beyond anything I can imagine. He would only love me like that if I was valuable.
And on the other hand, if my head ever gets too big, and slide back into the thought that I’m the best or smartest in the room? All I have to remember is that there is no area or category in which God is not infinitely superior to me. You cannot help but maintain your humility when you come to realize how far beyond us He is.
Scripture tells us over and over how valuable we are to God.
The classic telling is in Psalm 139 –
“You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with ALL my ways….
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
God was even clearer in the book of Jeremiah. This is from chapter 31, verses 32-34 and 37 –
“This is the covenant I will make with the people… I will put the law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My People. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord’, because they will ALL know me, from the least to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
“Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject (them) because of all they have done,” declares the Lord.”
That is the covenant brought by Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, our favorite chapter here at ACT II MINISTRIES. Now, we aren’t there yet. Not everybody knows the Lord. At least not yet….
Which is why God has left us here on earth, rather than just whisking us away the moment we came to know Jesus Christ. We have a job to do here. We are VALUABLE to God. We are to spread the Gospel to every corner of the world, starting with the corner of our own street.
You are beautiful. I know that because you are loved by God, and you are valuable because He left you on earth after you were saved for a purpose – the ONLY purpose, the one that Jesus Himself left that as His final instructions to us when He ascended. “Go into all the world and make disciples”, remember? Why would He leave you with that duty unless He KNEW you were capable of fulfilling that duty to the best of your ability?
So, the next time you feel like you’re worthless, like you have no purpose in your life, remember that Jesus Christ gave His Life specifically for YOU, and if you had been the only one whose sins needed forgiving, He still would have gone through all that pain for you and you alone. what an amazing realization!
Now, here’s the hard part.
It’s one thing to intellectually realize that God’s love makes you valuable. It’s something else entirely to incorporate that into your everyday life!
I am utterly convinced that the only failsafe way to bring God’s love into your everyday life is to bring God Himself into your everyday life.
- PRAY daily. Pray CONSTANTLY. Don’t just talk to God when you’re kneeling by your bedside: talk to Him while you’re driving – while you’re reading (especially reading something pertaining to Him!) – while you’re walking – while you’re showering. (Don’t panic: not only can He see you anyway, He literally “knows what you were born with”, so don’t be nervous like Adam and Eve were, okay?)
- LISTEN to Him. Mind you, the Lord – the Holy Spirit – doesn’t usually speak in words. Very few Christians that I know, even the most devout ones, ever say they’ve heard Him speak a single audible sentence to them. With me, at least, it’s almost always a nudge, a suggestion, something that feels like my conscience bringing up a thought that I know perfectly well I wouldn’t have come up with if left to my fleshly self. Leave her a big tip; she probably needs it… Offer that genrleman a hand; he needs a kind word today…. Compliment that friend’s dress: she needs the encouragement today. That sort of thing.
- The cooler thing is this – the more you DO this “listen, think, do” stuff that the Trinity prompts you to do via the Spirit, the sooner you find yourself “beating Him to the punch”, so to speak – anticipating situations where Godly intervention is needed, and you’re the closest Godly representative. If you get to that point, my friend? You will never feel unimportant again!
So, are you feeling blue?
Get (more than) a little God in your life!
Postscript: And don’t give up after a week – this takes quite a while to develop as a habit. I can’t tell you how long parts of it has taken me – years, at least.