For unknown reasons (another great mystery) certain people are born with an innate, unmovable notion of their own entitlement to love and belonging. A sense of worth and ability to receive love exists in them from their very first moment. Interestingly enough, this built in worth, or self-respect per say, comes from no other means but from the very fact of their existence.
Yet others innately struggle with bridging the gap between their longing for love and a sense of being inferior and unworthy to receive that love. This group believes, somehow, that they don’t belong, are substantially inadequate, or are not truly wanted.
A researcher and story-teller by the name of Brene Brown studied this phenomenon for many years. She read countless personal stories in pursuit of discovering what liberates or hinders people from living wholeheartedly. “Wholeheartedness” was the term she employed when referring to those who believed themselves worthy of love and belonging. Wholehearted people walk through life as themselves. They walk around without a cover over their faces; they stand free of shame. The ability to achieve being who they are stems from a simple inkling that tells them that they are worthy- just because they are.
This component of worth, just because, makes a world of difference in how one approaches life. The person who believes in his worth has confidence enough to make mistakes without tearing himself down. Compassion, enthusiasm, and forgiveness flow more readily from those who understand that failure is a natural process, not a worth-determining one. For those free from pangs of shame, failure doesn’t tear down self-image, but, rather, is seen in the light of “glass half-full.” This blessed class of people are more easily able to give love and receive it. Nothing suggests that one group or even one person is more deserving of love, yet it is child-like faith that grasps that love is for all human beings, and as a human being, their dignity deserves it. They believe this rightly so and, according to Brown’s research, are healthier in their lifestyles, relationships, and responses to loss, stress, and hardship for it.
I’ve lived a long while without the restful feeling of knowing that I am worthy of love. I was amazed upon hearing that there are people existing who do imagine themselves worthy. What a mind-blowing idea. My primal instinct told me that these people are wrong for feeling themselves deserving of love just for existing. But nothing can deny that Christ made us, loved us, and died for us all without Mankind doing anything deserving of His lavishness. Christianity embodies the simple statement that we cannot do anything apart from Him. While we were still sinners, He loved us. No action or state of being or special personality or accomplishments, no prerequisites were required. Sure, righteousness through faith is required for taking hold of the gift He provided to set us free, but the sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was made despite the majority of the Jew’s rejection of Him.
I resisted receiving love, however, even as a believing Christian. Every time I read Scripture and dove into the Word of God, I encountered “if, then” and “must” statements. Though I knew we are supposed to strive for perfection, and though I acknowledged that God is the only One able to make us successful in keeping His commandments, I would pray for God’s help and still fall. Everyday, time and time again, I couldn’t seem wrap my head around how to take the Word of God and apply it to my boring, everyday life. Frustrated and discouraged, it appears that I gave up somewhere along the way. I lost my strength when I believed “God can’t love me because I’m a failure at keeping His Word. I’m not good enough or strong enough for this.” But the funny thing is, I can’t bear living any other way than striving after learning what is in the Word of God. Once you know the truth, it changes you for good. I can’t leave it alone. But instead of adopting a positive outlook that God would help me each step of the way, I maintained my position that there is no way a perfect, holy, righteous God could love me.
This was the issue: I was drawn to the truth, I wanted to live right, but I still cared for my own skin more than Jesus Christ’s. Why? Because I could not truly love someone I thought could only love me when pleased. His being pleased depended on my own terms, which consented to the fact that nothing I do will ever be enough to deserve His love and affection. How could God love someone so exceedingly fickle, wicked, and unfaithful to Him? He hates wickedness. My fear of man and fear of failure kept me from relationship with Jesus and my lack of relationship with Jesus created my fear of displeasing God, walking out of His will (which is to walk into nowhere) and neglecting to win souls that are continually being lost.
The only cure for the halfhearted, brokenhearted, and searching, is love. The one thing we look for, the one thing we rarely give or receive, will fix us. When we unworthy people believe on the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says our minds become renewed. Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and heal their wounds. His offer to love us passionately forever is still on the table, and always will be, as long as we are still living. We can’t feel worthy unless we believe we are worthy. We can’t live lives of courage, health, and wholeheartedness unless we believe unshakably in our own, personal worth. And no one can make us worthy like the Lamb of God can, to whom “worthy worthy worthy is the Lord God Almighty” spoken before without pause in the heavens.
After decades of denial, it’s time to face the truth. God loves me with a ravishing love. I don’t understand why, and I certainly don’t deserve it, but who am I to refuse? This love is the gospel, I’m finally starting to see that. It’s not all the rules that I just can’t follow, it’s not staring forever at my mistakes, or living in dread of each moment that I don’t share the gospel or do something holy that I should be doing. It’s loving each moment the God who became a man, experienced life from a human perspective, though still divine, and came ultimately to cry “Eli Eli, why have you forsaken Me?” so that I could be free to be called worthy, to know Him, and to live free of fear, being simply me.
Brene Brown’s TedTalk on Wholeheartedness: