Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Intrinsic Worth

Several days ago I was having a conversation with a trusted friend and mentor, and I mentioned the struggles that I have trying to 'measure up'. I was telling him that I sometimes worry about whether I am a good enough, faithful enough, or productive enough servant of God. He asked me how my status as a child of God fit into what I was telling him. "Well, I know God is going to love me no matter what I do," I replied. "I have intrinsic worth."

I do know in my heart that I have innate value that exists independently of my actions simply because I am created in the image of a God that loves me unconditionally. Still, my mind struggles with questions about whether I'm performing up to a high enough standard, especially considering all the good gifts I've been given. Am I using my talents wisely, or am I squandering them? As I tried to explain these feelings to my friend, I said, "I just don't want God to be ashamed of me." His reply went straight to my soul. "Oh Kayla," he said, "He could  never be ashamed of you." I know that my friend is right. God will be happy about my triumphs and sad about my struggles, and He may even be disappointed by my choices sometimes, but God will never be sorry He made me. God will continue to love me and want me even as I blunder through life making mistakes.

God loved me the moment He imagined me—before I had done a single thing good or bad, before I had even drawn my first breath. While I was still growing in my mother's womb, my relationship with God was already a beautiful love story. In fact, every single person is part of a love story with God. Some of those love stories have tragic elements. Some people may even choose to reject God forever, and their love stories may end with tears and regret. But throughout all of our lives, God's love for us remains constant. When we are estranged from God, we may even try to cover up or ignore the beauty that God put inside each of us, but our sins, no matter how heinous, are not strong enough to completely eradicate that intrinsic worth. We do have a say in how the plot unfolds, but our lives will always be love stories, because God will always love us.

I make mistakes, but God is not ashamed of me. God wants me to use the gifts He's given me well, but He doesn't despise me when I fall short. I do want to be the best Christian I can, but that desire should be based on joy for God's love, not fear of His rejection. I cannot make myself worthy of God's love, but I also can't get myself expelled from God's family for poor performance. That kind of takes the pressure off, doesn't it? God knows I'm going to succeed sometimes and fail sometimes, and He's OK with that. He's going to keep encouraging me through both triumphs and failures. That makes me free to just go out and do the best I can. I don't have to be afraid of my failures. I can approach life joyfully, being glad when I serve God well and rejoicing when my mistakes teach me how to grow into a better servant.

It's time for me to stop worrying about being good enough. God has already made me good enough Himself, and there's just no arguing with that.

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