I know that self-esteem and the topic of what gives a person value and purpose are hot topics especially in marginalized communities. There has been a lot of research and thought that has gone into understanding the essence of what helps a person ‘feel’ better about themselves so they are more likely to setup and own their life circumstances. So often motivation is the key difference between a person who stays on target and another who is a casualty low self-worth and value. What determines whether a person rises above their surroundings or becomes a statistic?
We live in a society where too often a person’s self-worth and value are tied to their position in life and their possessions. So if you have succeeded in school, business or family you feel great about yourself regardless of whether you have done anything with your life that has real character, substance and value. It is too easy to equate paycheck with self-worth. I believe that ultimately there are more important areas to base your view of yourself and others.
I had a close friend share her story and passion with my teen life group. This friend grew up in what initially appeared to be a great family with a mom, dad and older brother. Yet, at a young age she watched her dad leave her mom for someone else. My friend shared her struggles of understanding why her dad would do this and then the impact this had on her, her mom and brother. Ultimately she would share that this caused her to struggle a lot with her sense of self-worth and value. It is difficult to comprehend how someone at a preschool level would have much if any memory of this at all. Yet, this caused my friend to struggle with her sense of worth and value till her college days.
The point of the discussion in this life group was to better understand how to face the internal angst that many face when dealing with circumstances you didn’t cause but have to live around and work through. My friend unfolded her story so that her struggle with self-identity and direction in life were tied to her dad’s unfortunate choice to walk away. It took my friend probably 20 years after the fact to work through her feelings and discover that her self-worth and value in life weren’t tied to her dad’s actions.
It was through my friend’s pursuit of the arts and drama that she discovered that she could be herself, whether she had a good relationship with her dad, boyfriends or even best friends. (Don’t misunderstand my friend is very capable of making close relationships.) The key to unlocking the door that allows you to release the anger and resentment of the past is learning how to forgive and let go. My friend’s journey centered on her faith walk with Christ and how He helped her understand forgiveness and grace. It was through her being forgiven that she discovered God’s grace and mercy that empowered her to see her calling to show the same type of love.
Don’t get me wrong it isn’t easy to do this and face the demons from anyone’s past that have constrained you for a lifetime. It’s not that this undoes the actions of the past but it puts them in perspective where you can stop the person who hurt you from controlling you any longer. It is this life gripping inner anger and resentment that can control you whether the person who caused this is even around you. The power of discovering that self-worth and value are based not on a person’s monetary wealth but on their character and choice of values is life changing. My friend shared how she had come to a point where she broke down totally about her dad’s situation in her life and finally let go and discovered a freedom that was totally a gift of God’s grace and mercy in her life.
Everyone has stories of how we try to cheer ourselves up by doing something special or buying something only to discover that this doesn’t really help much if at all. My friend’s story finished with her sharing how giving back through the theater to help others had situated her to deal in a positive fashion from the hurt in her past. It is possible to feel like a million dollars whether you are broke or financially well off. The focus isn’t on the dollars and cents of your account but on the values that define your understanding of life and the importance of being someone who is learning to forgive forget and help others in similar circumstances.