“you think you’re not worthy/I’d have to say I agree.”
There are things in life that I make myself earn. A walk on the beach. A chapter read in a book. Watching a sitcom. Eating food. Drinking anything other than water. Sleeping in. Going to bed early. Naps. Sketching. Writing.
Years ago I heard a sermon that said we (Christians) must give up acting childlike, and doing things just for the sake of doing them, and should grow up. I put that into practice, and stopped drawing, creative writing, and driving around aimlessly. Things I enjoyed, but that I thought I was not particularly gifted in, or “called” to do, I quit.
The results were devastating.
This quitting fed into my negative self talk, anxiety, and uncertainty. I would only allow myself to do something fun, just for the sake of fun, if I deemed it earned, or something super spiritual.
Go to a concert? Sure, but only if it was a Christian concert. All other music was labeled bad.
Go lay out on the beach? Absolutely, but only if I had already prayed and read my Bible, and brought a Christian book so that my “lifestyle could be my witness.”
Sketch a picture? Nope, because I did not do it as well as someone else could, so it could not possibly do anything beneficial for anyone but myself.
Eat Reese’s cups? Only if I wanted to feel guilty for destroying a body which God created.
Can you see how this thinking ravaged a good part of my sanity? And can I tell you, that this thinking goes against the very purpose for which we were created? If the Bible is true in saying that we were created by God, and for His good purpose and pleasure; then how much purpose and pleasure is there in denigrating everything the created does?
No good purpose, and no pleasure.
There are things that I no longer make myself earn: things that are wholesome, that I am purposed to do, things that fulfill me, and give me pleasure.
I do not need to earn or be allowed to:
Eat. Drink. Write. Study. Sleep. Read. Exercise. Bathe. Breathe.
Most importantly, I do not need to earn or be allowed to love, and be loved.
Do I have responsibilities still? Absolutely. Those responsibilities and expectations are part and parcel of being a person, a family member, a friend. They help me in feeling a sense of belonging.
It is important to note that it was not Jesus that taught me to deny myself the privilege and responsibility to be myself. It was more than likely not the intent of the preacher who gave the aforementioned message to prohibit his listeners from enjoying their lives: that was my skewed perspective.
This change was predicated on a long process that included therapy, support by way of complete acceptance by my family and friends, and finally believing that the constant shame I experienced no longer served a purpose in my life. In my efforts to be unselfish and mature, I neglected to care for myself so that I would be equipped with maturity and the ability to serve others.
Please do not misunderstand: I do not always realize I am caught in a cycle of shame, anxiety, and/or depression until I am in it. Sometimes, I need more help to remember that I do not need permission to breathe, to live, to experience peace as normalcy. And, me asking for that help requires humility and maturity, to not allow the shame of being different from others to keep me from getting what I need.
This change is still a process.
I am indebted to those who have loved me when I was too afraid to accept their love, to those who accepted me when I felt no sense of worth, and who kept showing me I was valuable by verbally giving me permission to be me; those who refused to let me forget that I was worthy of love, and care, and the purpose that God instilled in me.
Friend, reader, enemy, stranger, whoever you may be: you are acceptable, you are worthy of love, and being cared for, and you are full of purpose. Your existence, knowing that I am not alone here, brings me joy and contentment.
Thank you for being here.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Feel free to share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments: your words, respectfully spoken, are valuable. You are worthy to live your life, full of purpose, and pleasure.