There are two rhythms in life: one of doing and one of being. Doing says your worth is in what you accomplish, achieve and do. Being says your worth is in what you are.
For a long time, I had these completely backwards.
Let me explain:
Simply put, I believed my worth was defined by what I did.
Now, I wouldn’t have said that out loud or even admit it to myself. But, the truth is, I believed if my marriage was solid, my kids were good, my church and friends approved of me and my work was being “blessed” then I had landed in a place of worth.
And, I sincerely believed God could help me achieve everything on that list.
I believed if I approached God in just the right way (ie: quoted the right verses, had the right state of heart and followed the right path) that I could ask for anything. I could ask for favor, blessings, for things to change, for protection; heck, I could even ask for book sales, promotions and acceptance from my peers.
I believed in order to be successful in all of the doings and in order to be found worthy, I needed God on my side.
But what that belief really said was that I was not enough.
It said that at the core I was deserving of eternal punishment. That I was prone to wander and if left to my own devices, I could get all of it wrong. So, unless I pushed every instinct inside of me away, unless I denied myself, my heart, mind and body than I risked utter failure. Because Anna at her core was utterly worthless.
This led me to a place I can only describe as heaviness.
A place where the grief of my perceived mistakes and shortcomings sent a continual message that I WAS NOT ENOUGH. The table just wasn’t quite big enough for me. All of my good efforts in trying still fell just a tad bit short. That somehow, I still was unworthy.
Unworthy of love, acceptance and grace.
Unworthy of being heard.
Unworthy of being known or seen.
And, at times, even when I thought I arrived, I had to keep that in check because in an instant it could all be taken away.
There is a saying that says, if you look for something hard enough you’re going to find exactly what you are looking for.
I was looking for that belief to be confirmed. In every relationship, encounter, piece of work I put out or new thing I tried, I was looking for the confirmation of my lack of worth.
And, you know what?
I found exactly what I was looking for. Every single time.
I believed for a long time in the idea of faking it until you make it. And, in many ways, this idea was very effective. Yet, after years of doing this, I realized it is more like “fake it until you break it”. Meaning, the more you fake whatever it is you are trying to convey, the heavier it becomes. The closer it gets to breaking you.
I believed what I was could be defined by what I did: how many times someone liked me on Facebook, how many times my book sold, how many things I did for my children, how happy my marriage was, etc.
Yet, none of that had anything to do with what I am.
What I am is found inside my mother’s womb.
It is what I was made with to begin with. It is the core of my being – something that nothing in this life can add to or take away. My whole life, I’ve been trying to get away from that me – believing I needed to improve it, fix it, repent for it. Yet, all along, what I truly needed was to crawl inside that skin again.
You see, the belief that says who I was created as inside my mother’s womb was tainted, flawed and in need of being fixed is denying the work of my creator.
This takes the idea of being “born again” to an entirely different level. One filled with depth, wonder, mystery, awe and benevolence from an incredibly vast Divine being. One that screams of your inherent worth and value.
One that says you are not of the world of measuring sticks. Because there is no measuring stick at all. There is no one to compare you to because you are infinitely and profoundly and uniquely made – there is only ONE you. This message says: My dear, there is no perfect path – there is only your path.
Yes, this drips of grace and causes judgment to disappear.
You see, this is the Jesus story. One of grace. One of worth and value. One of uniqueness. One of the glory of mankind being wrapped up in a love that says you can now REST. You are free to rest from the doing. You are invited into a place of simply being.
Who you were to begin with is all you ever need to be.
But, we like our rules, measurements and standards that we believe God is all about. We want to pull out our measuring sticks to define where good enough starts and good enough ends.
Yet, the only line Jesus drew in the sand was between judgement and grace. He stood between the doers and those who were simply being. And he chose to stand with human beings.
Was it because he felt sorry for them? That they just hadn’t figured it all out just yet? Was it that he felt badly that they were so naïve to the ways of holiness? Or could it be – could it possibly be – that he enjoyed the bliss of those who could just be.
Could it be that this is why he encouraged adults to become like little children? Still connected with who they were inside their mother’s womb before life taught them to shove it aside and become what they were told to be?
What if – just what if God actually likes who he made us to be originally? What if that being is actually enough? What if grace is more about bringing us back to a state of being and less about pushing us towards a state of doing?
My dear, if God called perfect who you were to begin with, then a child would say that simply is enough.
PS: Sometimes the hardest part about letting go of people’s approval is just that: the people. To learn if you are dealing with toxic relationships and how to set healthy boundaries, download your free e-book A Field Guide to Toxic Relationships here.