Fighting for Value

Wrestling with Life series

Am I valuable?  Am I VALUABLE?

Maybe you’ve never worked out what the question is you are asking yourself as you wrestle with life. Maybe you just know the ache? Maybe you just know the restlessness you feel chasing the next thing? But through all the pain, emotion, and angst this question pounds the beating drum of your heart…AM I VALUABLE?

Looking back across my life I can see that I have always looked to the work I do as my measuring stick for knowing if I’m valuable. I sought the approval of my ‘quality work’ from supervisors, colleagues or those my services helped. I wanted to know they thought me capable, responsible, organized, driven and creative. In other words, I wanted to know they needed me.

Work is something I can point to as evidence of my value…it is where I earn my own worth. If I earn my value through my work then it is all mine to claim, own and get the credit for. Therein lays the wrestling match..I want to get the credit for my own value. I want to earn it. I want to say, “Look at this, here is why I am valuable.”

The need to be valuable is uniquely human. I don’t think animals are living their lives wondering if they have personal significance.  But our desire to be valuable is so deeply embedded in our souls that the ache drives what we do. Peel back the layers of our choices and you will find a heart that beats to know it matters.

So why does it matter? If we are all chasing the same thing then isn’t it just a part of life? I should get the credit for my good choices, my skills, my talents and all my good behavior, right?

But, if I strive after earning my own value this becomes the question… what is the measuring stick?

….how many people I help?

…how much money I make?

…how much influence I have?

…how successful my kids turn out?

…how many friends I can count?

…how good my marriage is?

…how big my job is?

…how much power I wield?

So many different sticks to measure my value by….and if I am measuring mine what are the people around me doing? We move through life and past people all doing the same thing, trying to earn value from the measuring stick they’ve chosen. But what is the result? Look around, you can see it.

We compete on the same measuring stick. We judge each other for our different measuring sticks. We feel like failures because of the measuring stick. We become arrogant by the measuring stick. We get lost on the measuring stick. And even when we feel good about our ranking it doesn’t last for long before someone comes along measuring higher.

We work and toil and struggle and fight to earn our own value but in the end we lose because we are in a match with an opponent we can’t beat. We are truly wrestling with our need for love.

Chasing after love is the drive behind earning our own value and worth. But we weren’t meant to chase after love, we were meant to rest in it. We were created to rest in love.

To love means to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another. If you are a parent you know this feeling as you simply watch your children engage with life. If you are ‘in love’ with someone you know the heart swell feeling of watching them too. The Bible tells us God knows that feeling as well. Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”  Before we had ‘done’ a single thing God looked at us and loved.

1 John 4 tells us that ‘love comes from God,’ there is ‘no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear,’ and that ‘God is love.’ 1 Corinthians 13 defines in great detail what perfect love is. We were meant to rest in this love while we live life…instead we chase after a counterfeit version of love and measure our value from what we find. Staying in the ring to battle for value and love wears you out. That fight leaves you exhausted and defeated.

In Matthew 11 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Weary and burdened sounds just like the exhaustion that comes from fighting for love. It is hard to rest in a love we don’t earn. We have no status…no measuring stick…no control. But that is exactly where the rest comes from…being loved isn’t up to us.

From the very beginning of time God loved us enough to make a way back to connection with Him through Jesus. He loves you as much in this moment as He ever has or ever will. He looks on you, wherever you are, in love. When we engage with life from a place of resting in that unconditional love instead of fighting for a more fragile version of it, we can move forward without a measuring stick. We can step out of the ring and find rest.

Where are you in the battle for value? How are you fairing at the fight for love? Why do you find it so hard to accept yourself as loved without doing anything to earn it? What a wrestling match this is. Next week we will continue to look at this battle, for now I pray that you can stop fighting long enough to look around and see the truth of God’s love waiting to give you rest.