By Bethany Casson, M.A. and published by AACC | May 27, 2020 | Leave a Comment 💬
It seems as though there is a pervasive belief that so many of us hold that “I am not worth it and I’m undeserving.” The question “what makes me or my life matter?” is one of the most important questions a person can consider. There are people who spend decades trying to answer this question, consciously or subconsciously. It appears to me that those who experience the most peace and fulfillment in life have developed a solid answer to this question and they live their lives in line with that answer.
As I work with young women struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and traumatic pasts at Timberline Knolls, I frequently find myself talking with others about feelings of worthlessness. Through experiences, messages from others, self-doubt, and many other sources, people come to believe that they are undeserving of love, forgiveness, or care from others. When families, other loved ones, or even staff members show compassion or devotion to someone that I work with, it is often followed by feelings of guilt and shame because “I don’t deserve it.”
I appreciate when opportunities like this arise. They usually respond to my statement, “No, you don’t deserve it,” with a look of surprise and shock. After all, I am their therapist, aren’t I supposed to support building self-esteem and provide encouragement? Now here I am agreeing with the very message that led so many down paths of darkness.
Romans 5:6-8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were yet sinners… when we least deserved it… when we were not “worth it” by any earthly standard… that is the very time when Christ made the greatest sacrifice and showed the most powerful act of love in all of history.
So when I say “no, no you don’t deserve the forgiveness of your family, the resources others have invested in your recovery, or their commitment to supporting you no matter how your struggles impact their lives,” I follow that with “but you get it anyways.” I have received abundant grace and mercy for my own short comings, mistakes, and sins, and I cannot contain my excitement when I share that others have the same abundant grace and mercy available to them. We do not deserve it, and in God’s infinite love for us, He deeply desires that we take hold of the gifts that He offers. What a blessing when those gifts also come in the form of care from our loved ones!
God wants for us to accept the peace that comes from knowing that He longs for us. We are His creation, marked with His image. Even when we struggle with issues outside of our control and when we make active choices to participate in sin, He said that we are worth it. We are worth it because our Creator said so. We do not deserve His grace and forgiveness, and grace and forgiveness cannot be earned. We could never earn or deserve them, and we are not supposed to. However, when we receive them whole heartedly and experience God’s great love, it inspires profound gratitude. When we fight accepting good things from God and those who love us because we don’t deserve it, we actually develop pride that focuses on self-loathing and fear. Recovery cannot take place when a person is ruled by hatred and fear. When deep gratitude begins to grow, so does a shift in focus. Our vision is not overpowered by focus on myself and my inadequacy, but is ruled by the lens of love. When I think about all God has done for me and how wonderful it is to count Him my friend, I want to honor him with how I treat His creation, including myself. I want to take care of the temple He made my mind, heart, and body to be. I want to protect it and use it to dive deeper into relationship with Him and let others know that what they do not deserve is available and it makes living SO GOOD. It is exactly because I don’t deserve love or forgiveness that I stand in awe that God still counted me worth not only His ultimate sacrifice, but His daily reminders of His love.
Romans 8:1-3 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”