“I am not worthy. I don’t deserve to live.” These were the words spoken to me by a young woman whom I encountered in my ministry. “I can’t do anything right. I can’t even successfully take my own life.“
Through her tears, Christine (I will call her) looked at me with such deep sorrow and suffering. Christine shared how it seemed that all the people in her life had abandoned her. She told me how they were tired of the repeated narrative of her addiction, and her numerous lapses consuming the substances of her addiction.
Gently, I placed my hand on hers and tried to assure Christine that not all had abandoned her. I told her that she is beloved and worthy, and that the Creator continues to be near to her. That the Creator never leaves her side.
The skepticism on her face spoke volumes to me. I could see Christine‘s inner voice telling her that none of this could possibly be true. I could see how she felt utterly unworthy of love and compassion.
“God can redeem anyone,“ I told her, “Even those who have pushed away all that seems good in the world.”
Later on, as I reflected on this interaction, my own inner narrative bubbled to the surface. Lately, I have been in a place of wondering if I am worthy of love. I have found that I have undervalued myself, and in doing so, have been destructive to my own body.
Overeating, and the dependence on food for comfort is another form of addiction. My fluctuating weight over the years is evidence of that. Yet, seeking to change the inner monologue is no small task. And, it’s easy, I have found, to revert back to unhealthy habits when life turns difficult.
Loneliness tends to trigger my desire for food. It also seems to trigger my consuming a nightly glass of wine. Both food and drink seem to numb the pain of my situation. Yet it is temporary, and I am left with tight pants and an evening accomplishing very little.
When I reflect on what I have put into my body, I further sink into sorrow and loneliness. I become frustrated and disappointed with myself for over-indulging. This negative cycle accomplishes very little, except for distracting me from those things that are of real importance.
What seems to set me back on a more positive path is my relationship with the Creator. I remember Jesus‘s words in Luke 18: 27, “What is impossible with people is possible with God.“
Turning to the Lord for guidance and wisdom is the only way I can really battle the demons of my negative self talk and behavior. The Lord is the source of my strength when I am tempted to over-indulge.
The trouble is, I forget all too often to call on the Lord for help. I flounder in my own sorrow and self-pity until I have hit rock bottom. Until I fall to the basement of my own self pity and grief.
From the dark spaces laying on the floor, I remember where to place my trust. Then I call out to the Lord and utter, “Help!“ In this single word, I desire to find some relief and hope. In response, I hear in my heart the Lord saying to me, “Dear daughter, my beloved. I am here for you. I have never left you.“
In these moments, I feel a great sense of peace wash over me. Sometimes I even feel the gentle arms of the Creator’s love surround me.
Sometimes my pride gets in the way, and I project a facade of goodness to the world. I pretend like everything is OK. I help others, and yet I reject the help others offer to me. In these moments, I am really not okay, but want others to think that I am.
My mind tells me that as a spiritual leader, there is no way I can be seen as vulnerable. So instead, I just keep pressing forward, doing my best to hide the imperfections and unhealthy habits that are part of my daily life. My heart tells me a different story; one where I am of value, regardless of my shortcomings.
I completely miss the boat when I don’t allow my own suffering and humanity to be seen by others. To suffer is to be human. And to let others walk alongside me in my suffering is to let others see my authentic side. And you know what? Those who really care about me are not scared away when they see the vulnerable side of me.
We are heading into the season of winter. The light fades earlier, and darkness prevails. It is easy for me to hunker down at home and eat my heart 's content. I must resist the urge toward putting unhealthy things in my body. Afterall, God calls me beloved, and I should care for the gift of my body.
What about you? Do you believe you are beloved in God’s eyes? If so, how well are you caring for yourself? Are you seeking the Creator for guidance? Try Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” You need not go it alone. Find a trusted friend to guide you. Seek out the Lord in prayer and listen to God’s awe-inspiring Word.
Loving Lord, thank You for caring about me even when I don't care much for myself. Please continue to guide me to value myself as beloved, just as You value me. It's over whelming some days to get past the negative self-talk. So Lord, come alongside me every day, and guide me and those I love to walk in Your path. I love You. Amen.
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