Anyone who’s read my words for very long knows I grew up feeling less-than. In elementary school, I was bullied and spit upon. I was made to feel like I had no worth. Funny thing is, when a girl hears that message proclaimed over and over, she begins to believe it. We lose our capacity for understanding our worth.
I tried to earn approval. Tried to dress the right way. Talk the right way. And to my shame, I even treated other ostracized girls with disdain. All in an effort to gain worth with those stupid popular girls who seemed to have the power to give or withhold acceptance.
Rejection scarred me into adulthood. I believed I wasn’t really worthy. But that craving to find a way to feel worthy in others’ eyes defined my interactions well into my forties. I tried to say things just right, so as not to offend. And then, if I shared my true feelings about something, or if I spoke words that could, maybe, be construed as unkind, I always went back and apologized.
All because I didn’t understand my worth.
What happens when we don’t understand our worth
When we don’t understand our worth, we do and say things that hollow us out. We view ourselves through an inaccurate lens. And, if you’re like me, we withhold ourselves from intimate connection with others because we don’t want them to find out that really, under what we show them, is someone who’s not really worth getting to know.
When we don’t understand our worth, we won’t engage fully in life and in relationships. Loving well proves impossible because we worry about whether or not we’ll blow it in front of someone. We worry about what others think. Our focus is on trying hard to please them by how we act.
When we don’t feel worthy to accept love from others, we are unable to love others deeply.
Again, attempting to please others at the expense of being authentically us carves out holes in our hearts. And those holes can’t be filled by any amount of approval from people.Attempting to please others at the expense of being authentically us carves out holes in our hearts @JeanneTakenaka #tellhisstory #understandingourworth Click To Tweet
Truths to Help Us in Understanding Our Worth:
- People-pleasing is a useless endeavor. We humans are fickle creatures. When we seek approval from others, we give them the power to crown us with favor or with shame. Instead, we need to seek to please the One who created us, the One who knows us best: Our heavenly Father.
- Our worth doesn’t come from how others, or even we ourselves, think of us. I spent decades struggling with the feeling of being less-than. When I felt rejected by someone (and it happened a lot in high school and into my twenties), I was devastated. That rejection fed the lie that I really was less-than. I couldn’t figure out how some of my friends seemed comfortable in their own skins while I was itching and trying to reshape mine to fit in. We can’t determine our own worth because we don’t see ourselves with an accurate perspective.
- When we comprehend God’s love for us, we begin understanding our worth. Life does its best to beat us down. But when we understand that God loves us, even when we mess up, make horrible choices, compromise our beliefs, or even turn away from Him for a time, it can change how we view ourselves.
- God views us as his precious children. Nothing we can do or say will change His vast love for us. He loves us perfectly, passionately, and completely. God loves us this way because He has defined our worth as invaluable. We’re worth loving.
- Grasping the truth that we are enough simply because Jesus declares it transforms our understanding of our worth.
Why Understanding Our Worth Makes a Difference
When we understand our worth, we become capable of loving others well. When we grasp how very much we are loved, we grow in our capacity to extend love to others well. To look beyond the ways they hurt us and to see them through our Father’s eyes.
God has done a lot of healing in my heart and thoughts. As I struggled to understand my significance to others, God reminded me that I am significant to Him. And that is enough. As I began to live into this truth, I started to see how being enough because of being God’s girl makes me enough.
I’m not less-than.
I am loved.
And I want to love others in that same way.
What about you? How do you define your worth? How does your perception of your worth affect the way you love others
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Oh Jeanne … there’s such hard-fought wisdom here. I don’t understand why it takes us longer to work through some things than others, why God’s timing for deliverance and freedom is often so different from ours. Then I read stories like yours, and I’m simply thankful that He is faithful and that He can redeem even the hardest parts of our lives as we share His faithfulness with others. You do this so well, my friend, and I’m grateful.
Thanks Jeanne. So many of our thoughts (and your experiences of the past) mirror my own – or so clearly remind me of my younger self. The pain can still be felt if I linger there. And, if I’m honest, the damage done decades ago never really disappears. It did much to shape who I am today. God gives grace all along the way and has helped me mature and heal – but some habits/views are just hard to erase. Thanks for your honest sharing and real encouragement!!
Jennifer, I’m sorry you dealt with similar experiences in your past. I agree, the pain can still be felt if I linger there too. What you said about how the damage done years ago never completely goes away. The scars still remind, don’t they? I’m so thankful for God’s grace and the ways He helps us to heal. Thanks so much for sharing your hard-won wisdom here.
An excellent post with a message that so many of us need to hear! The process of becoming a young woman who gets picked on by the “mean girls” is fraught with self doubt and low self esteem. Finding our worth in Christ makes an enormous difference!
Melinda, thanks for stopping by! It takes a long time to find healing from the wounds others inflict in our youth. I’m so thankful that God’s thoughts toward us aren’t swayed by others’ opinions or even our own mistakes. And yes, finding our worth in Christ makes an impacting difference!
Excellent post! Thank you for your transparency. God sees you as a beautiful person!
Thank you for your visit and your kind words, Pat! God sees each of His kids that way, doesn’t He?
When I look at you and read your words, I see a beautiful person with a sensitive soul who is a woman after the Lord’s own heart. I’ve been a people-pleaser most of my life and when I measure myself on that scale – I always come up short. You’re right, people ARE fickle and the same people who put others down are the same people striving to find their own self worth. The key is you know the only place where true acceptance and worth can be found – in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Joining with you in living our lives to an audience of One. His opinion is the only one that matters! I’m am blessed to know you sweet friend!
Bev, your words are a sweet encouragement. you’re so right about the fact that people who put others down are trying to determine their own worth. Yes, we must remember we are already accepted by our Heavenly Father, and that’s what really matters. Yes, definitely walking alongside you as we learn how to live for an audience of One. I’m SO thankful for your friendship too!
Such wisdom for mental health here.
True, though I hadn’t thought about this side of it. Thanks for the insight, Lauren!
I’m sorry to hear you went through that bullying in grade school. I was terribly shy, and rejection dictated my worth a lot! Our identity is our anchor as it also allows us to put Him first, instead of ME first so I can faithfully do His work without fear of rejection. I know this but still a work in progress for sure! Lovely post, J.
Lynn, thanks for your words and understanding. Our identity IS our anchor, so we need to make sure we know where we’re basing our identity. When we place God first and as our focus, it makes the work we do much less about us and all about Him. I love your insights here, friend!
What a beautiful message! Remembering we are created by God can bring us peace and comfort.
This is so true, Melissa!
This is powerful, “As I struggled to understand my significance to others, God reminded me that I am significant to Him. And that is enough.” Yes! To grasp God’s love and acceptance for me and who I am in Christ, helps me fully engage in other relationships.
Karen, that truth transformed my understanding of God, who I am in His eyes, and the truth that I didn’t need continue to seek significance from people. This understanding has helped me in my relationships with others as well.
Our worth does come from God who will always love and accept us, no matter what. I’ve always based my worth on my performance as a daughter, student, wife, mother, teacher, etc. and it’s difficult to remember that God’s love isn’t performance-based but is mine because of Jesus. Thanks for your helpful insights, Jeanne!
Kathy, like you, I’ve always found it easier to place my worth in my performance as well. It’s such a fickle taskmaster though. If I mess up, I must have less worth…thank goodness that’s not how God operates. He places worth on us simply because we’re His girls. Thanks for sharing your heart here!
I relate to so much of what you say here, Jeanne! It has definitely been (and still is) a journey for me to draw my sense of worth from God rather than from others. It makes such a difference when we can grasp how much he loves us. I’m glad you’ve discovered that and I’m sorry you were treated so horribly as a child.
Lesley, I think coming to understand our worth is a journey for each of us. When we grasp how much He loves and values us, I’ve found I have more confidence in how I live. Now to consistently remember all that He’s been teaching me! 😉
Yes! Understanding our Worth in Christ is so key. And it is a lifelong process for me! I wrote a book about it and I’m still learning! LOL
Rebecca, understanding my worth in Christ is a lifelong process for me as well. 🙂
Amen Jeanne, Thank you for this blessed post. your words resonated with me today. I felt like you were talking to me. I related to feeling the say way as a child, teen and young adult. It wasn’t until well into my 40’s as my relationship with Jesus grew that I then knew my worth. Blessings.
Paula, I’m sorry you had to deal with some of the same things I did during those formative and young adult years. I’m so glad God has shown you your true worth. It sure makes a difference in how we live our days, doesn’t it??
Yes and Amen Jeanne, it sure does make a difference in knowing our true worth in Him. To God be the glory. Blessings.
So true what you say: People-pleasing is a useless endeavor. You and I had similar childhood experiences, it seems! Thankful for the wisdom we’re gaining now as adults.
Jessica, after having read some of your posts, I see we have had to work through some similar issues when it comes to people-pleasing. I’m sorry you dealt with similar things to me. I love reading how God has brought so much healing to your heart. Your way of talking about it is practical and inspirational!
Thank you, Jeanne for sharing these thoughts from your healing heart. Like you, I struggled with bullying, and being devalued by others, even abuse as a young woman. All contributing to my lack of self worth which affected my relationship with my husband and more importantly with God. Until I finally understood my value in HIS eyes; if the God of the universe loves and values me, I don’t need to pander to others for their acceptance. Still a ways to go for full healing, but I no longer seek for my identity in others.
Donna, you’re right. When we carry those wounds, they do impact our relationships with others. I’ve been able to talk with my husband about a lot of this, which has also been good for our relationship. I’m so thankful God meets us where we are in our dark places and reveals the light of His truth and love to us. I’m so glad you, also, are on your road to healing.
Jeanne, hearing about how your were bullied as a child breaks my heart. I have recently been reading a Brene Brown book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” and in it, she speaks about the differences between belonging and fitting in. When we try to fit in, we change ourselves (or try to) to act/speak/dress like others want us to. We are not our authentic selves. When we understand our worth, we can have true belonging. God made each of us a precious and unique individual for a reason. He made us worthy of His love, not because of what we do or say, but who we are – a child of God. You are so right – understanding how we have always belonged in God’s eyes can change our whole lives. Beautiful post!
Thanks for your kind words, Laurie. I read that book last year and took TONS of notes. It’s such a good one for understanding the difference between belonging and fitting in. I love your explanation of fitting in versus belonging, as well as your thoughts about being loved by God. Spot on, my friend!
Your childhood story makes me sad, dear Jeanne. I’m sorry for what that precious little girl endured.
And I look at you now and see how the Lord has restored the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).
He is so awesome! Praise God our worth and esteem are found in Him alone …
Thank you, Linda. I feel like I’m finally grasping lessons most people my age figured out a lot earlier. But God . . . He is faithful to restore those years. He IS awesome. And yes, I thank God our worth and esteem are found in Him alone. Thank you for your kind words, friend!
Oh I think more of us than might admit it are traveling the same journey … and haven’t come near close to where God has taken you. The way you’ve linked up your childhood with adulthood was brilliantly wise, friend.
Linda, this is reassuring to hear. 🙂 It’s funny. Learning how to (hopefully) develop characters who have depth for my novels has helped me to dig deeper into my own past and the wounds there and to bring them before the Lord. I’m so thankful for you!
I started relying on God my my sense of self-worth at 14. It helped me through a lot of the teen angst. Unfortunately, a bit of my self-doubt always makes itself known in having a judgmental attitude towards others. I’m still a work in progress ☺️
Anita, I’m so glad you began to find your sense of self at 14. I wish I had! 🙂 We’re all works in progress, aren’t we?
Seeing ourselves as He sees us makes such a difference. On one hand, He knows our faults and failures and issues better than anyone else ever could. But because of His great love and grace, He loves us in spite of them, loves and values us more than anyone else ever could.
Agreed, Barbara. When we can see ourselves through our Father’s eyes and believe that we have worth, in spite of our failures, poor choices, and faults, there’s so much freedom to be found. When we can embrace the reality of God’s unconditional love for us, that can grow within us the confidence to live for Him and love as He does.
In the end it ain’t worth nuthin’,
and that is all I’m worth,
however hard I’m bustin’;
this comes to me from birth.
In the end God has looked away,
and in the end, who really cares,
for what the hell, this is my day
and it’s my hurtin’ back which bears
the weight of all that’s done and gone,
the weight of all that’s wrong,
the weight of all that grace withdrawn,
the weight of Far Too Long,
but at the last Bright Holy Word
nowt is brighter than my sword.
What an important message — and if we missed it as children, I believe it is harder to hear and apply. Thanks be to God for his patient instruction.
Michele, I believe you’re right. When a person doesn’t hear/receive/grasp the message that they have worth as a child, it becomes so much more difficult to truly believe that message as an adult. I’m thankful God is a patient teacher and always loves us, no matter what.
Awww, my friend. I have to say that, though our physical bodies may not be worth much, especially once they’ve borne the brunt of cancer and life’s difficult circumstances, the essence of who we are and our hearts are always worth much to our Father. I’m praying for you as you fight the beast of cancer. Gentle hugs, friend.