I was asked to join a planning meeting about the women’s conference that our church was going to put on this Spring, and because the timing was SO tight (yes, we’re the crazies who planned a full day conference in about 10 weeks), I just thought of it as another thing adding things to my to-do list. But the topic was announced, and my head was spinning with ideas and takeaways that I wanted the women who gathered to believe. That I wanted to believe.
In the end, it was a day of women of incredible talent and wisdom coming together to share and it was special. For me, the best part was that I’d gotten the courage to ask for a spot in the day to talk from my heart, and I did. I wanted to share it with you too, and on this Good Friday because it’s why Christ died for us. Because, we are worth that much. We started with reading from Psalms 139, because so much about believing our worth is found there.
|1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
When we believe this, we know that we’re worth more than gold. Because a God who knows us so well, who formed us and planned our days, who guides us with His hand wherever we are, would only do all that if our worth is beyond our understanding. Why else would He care so much?
So to believe those words in Psalms means that we know we are worth more than gold. And most of us do believe those words, right? I’m going to be honest and vulnerable with you, and the first part of that is saying- I believe it in my head, I do. But when it comes to my heart, I question it too often. And maybe you do too. But I tell others how valuable they are, and mean it. So I’m going to hold a magnifying glass up to my own life and a few people I love, because maybe you’ll see some similarities, and maybe it can help you.
My friend who is just 28, mom to a cutie pie 5 year old, newly engaged, in training to be a retail manager. Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year, put into a trial for a new drug since traditional treatments were having no impact, and had new scans this week to confirm the belief that her tumors continue to grow. Does God not value her? Of course he does, and though I struggle with the right words through this for her, I do know that she is precious to Him.
The sweet woman I know who was cooking her son’s 23rd birthday dinner, waiting on him to arrive home from work 15 years ago, who still has no answers on his devastating disappearance. Who is raising her severely autistic grandson in place of her daighter. Who can’t speak about her missing son without being overcome with emotion and believes it means she is weak. I’ve seen her incredible strength and the way she quietly comforts others in similar situations. I know God uses her and values her, even in the midst of her pain.
The itty bitty 16 week old, cute as can be, smiling at everyone she meets, and learning to roll over. Whose biological grandmother overdosed and died, whose biological uncle died as a child of complications from drug related birth defects, whose mom hasn’t yet changed the cycle of brokenness, but is trying. I know God has a plan for her, and even for her mom, who I know he loves.
You wouldn’t disagree with me on the fact that they are worth so much, even in their pain and their brokenness. We know that God loves them, that He created them with a purpose, and that He will use them for His glory.I truly believe that.
But me? Worth more than Gold? I’m not as sure if I’m honest. I’m a mess. Most people only see a fraction of the mess, because like most of you, I put a cleaned up version of myself out there. I love God, truly and wholeheartedly. I serve because of that love. But I am broken. I suffer from anxiety that comes out in odd ways, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors that are strange. I’ve battled eating issues for much of my life, and struggle more than I ever admit with the image in the mirror. I fell in love with a guy that was a mess too, and has a chronic illness that impacts every area of our life, and man does it make him question his worth. Then, after having our first baby boy and settling into life somewhat, managing it all okay it seemed, one of our biggest life changing moments happened. My brother went missing. We’ve now spent almost 8 years without answers on where he is, 8 years of searching and praying for just confirmation of his death. 8 years of telling people, and meaning it, that God knows where he is, and for now that has to be enough. And you’d think I’d be an emotional mess sometimes. But I’m not, because I just don’t deal with it. I talk about it when necessary, participate in events and interviews when it might help. But avoid it as much as possible. We have two boys that keep me so busy that it’s easy to avoid. So I keep plugging along, working full time, volunteering here, sharing our story some, and I keep waiting. Waiting for some resolution on the circumstances in our lives. Because THEN I’ll be able to really share how God worked through it all, how he brought us out on the other side. That’s the moment where I can say that God was doing a big work in our lives. Because until then, I believe it, I know it, but sometimes my heart questions if we’ve been forgotten. I wonder if we did more or prayed more or believed more if just one of these huge things in our lives would have some resolution.
And then, instead of bringing an ending to any part of our story, 3 months ago He brought another middle to struggle through in the form on that tiny baby I mentioned before. For 9 weeks, she’s been with us more than she’s been with her mom, and we don’t know the long term plan. But if I’m going to look her in her eyes as she grows, and tell her how worthy she is, how loved by God she is, despite the circumstances of her life, even when the path isn’t clear, then I have to fully believe it myself about myself.
What God continues to teach me, especially now with Sophia in our lives, is that He’s often working through us in situations we’d never choose to be in, because He values us that much. He believes that we are so worthy, that we can be used. I can speak love and hope into otherwise dark places. Not just because I’ve been there, but because I am there.
Not bringing me out of those places isn’t a sign of being forgotten. He’s there with me. It’s not a sign of not mattering enough to spend a miracle on. It’s just that the miracle probably isn’t in the happy ending. And I’m listening and learning and opening up to sharing more of His light in that darkness. Because I do believe I’m worthy of being used by Him in big ways.
So there are 4 stories, three of people I love, who intertwine with my own. Full of mess, and pain and darkness. And full of being loved by the God who made us. And if He is loving us, and caring for us, then certainly you can also believe- not just in your head, but in your heart, that you too are worthy.
And here’s the ENTIRE POINT of all this to me. That when we believe that we’re worth more than Gold, that we act like it. That we serve and give, and use the fires that have shaped us to bring light into the darkness for others. That’s what it’s all about.