When you grow up without a lot of extras, taller than most of your classmates, to parents that carried their own demons of childhood which left their marks on you; it’s easy to allow lies about your lack of worth seep deep into your soul. Even now as an adult, I find myself floating between groups of people, never quite having a ‘home base’ or a place where I feel like I belong. In my head, I hear an old tape reminding me that I have nothing to offer, don’t fit in, don’t belong. I look over my life’s track record and see failure after failure. I see a long list of past opportunities given that I allowed pride-rooted in a need for outward approval of my worth-to damage the hearts of those entrusted under my leadership and care. The reminders of past actions bring overwhelming shame and embarrassment-what further proof did I need of my lack of worth? I see actions based on pious arrogance leading to closed doors and missed opportunities as God began to humble my heart again and again and again. Teaching me, my worth isn’t in things, or people, or accomplishments, it’s found in Him and who He is in me.
Over the past few years, I have spent time growing my faith and realizing I was building walls between myself and others because of my need to have professed importance. I proudly reproached others who hadn’t quite realized the same newly found spiritual truth and allowed a faith which took 40 years to find separate me from those I could have helped as I scoffed at their struggling in shoes I had just left. I believed I was finally getting my heart right with God, but was I?
In Genesis 37, God gives a 17 yo boy, Joseph, a vision of his future. Three years ago, I am convinced God gave me one as well of mine. Much like Joseph, I put too much faith in my own abilities to achieve the vision and believed that it was intended to lift me up and finally demonstrate my worth to others-and maybe, to God.
But God has a way of taking away arrogance and pride and instead, humbling the heart that breeds it. As I read Genesis 37-45, I read my own story. A story of God allowing everything I held dear to be stripped away, like Joseph’s. I watched as I lost my job, lost any perceived position I held important in the community, and experienced one closed door after another. No one wanted what ‘I was selling.’ I felt lost, ashamed, worthless, forgotten. I questioned how and why God would do this to a person He gave such a clear vision to. Surely, He had made a mistake. But, He hadn’t.
But just as God was with Joseph, I believe the Lord was with me. And is with me-even when my external situation is virtually unchanged.
Looking at either of our outward circumstances, you might not see it. When you’re alone, in what feels like a prison cell, it certainly doesn’t feel like God’s presence. It feels like crushing. It feels like punishment. It feels like God is stripping away, piece by piece, any self-esteem I held dear until there is nothing left. Nothing but room for God to finally rebuild my heart-piece by piece.
I’ve realized, three years later, that my feelings don’t dictate reality. My feelings are based on my human need to belong to a world I was never created for.
It’s only recently that I realized I no longer have the same desire of popularity or importance that I once had. I’d rather not be viewed as special or of value to others-because I’m not. I am just as lost, just as broken, just as likely to fail. But, I have met a God who redeems and restores and He’s the one I want to lift up and exalt with my daily choices and actions. I realized in this quiet, lonely place, God has grown a much more humbled heart in me; and I’m thankful. I’m thankful He chose not to leave me broken or arrogant or prideful but loved me enough to throw me into a pit so that I would learn how to work through my own brokenness and truly desire to serve others not myself. In this season, I have learned ‘following me’ will lead you nowhere because I have nothing to offer. But, following God, which may cost you everything, is the only one whose grace and goodness can save a broken soul.
Three years later, I have no desire to seek or build a platform for myself or my ‘good works’. I have nothing to offer. I have nothing that will change your heart or impact your life. The only thing I have, is the ability to share my story of a God who met me in my unworthy, brokenness and the belief that He will meet you and heal you in yours, if you let Him.