One of my professors this year stated that theologians see something wrong in the world and try to right it, or write it, I would add. I certainly don’t plant myself in any capacity as a theologian by any means, but I have seen enough of something wrong that alarms me to the core. I want to flip the on-switch on a spotlight upon a critical issue. I have seen it affect more women and girls than I can count, and I, too have battled with this particularly hellish devil. It wears a peculiar and sneaky cloak, so it hides and lurks whilst the prey is completely devoid of awareness of its presence. It has the cunning ability to launch its claws into any human, but for this particular piece I am focusing solely on women and girls.
I’m talking about the lens of unworthiness which so many of us are viewing ourselves through. We are looking through false glasses into our mirrors. What person put those lying spectacles abridge our noses? Was it a particular person, a set of circumstances, a shaming theology? What reduced perfectly capable and rational thinking, smart girls and women to any status labeled “less-than”? Whatever did it, or whoever did it, however in the world it got into our marrow and seeped in our pores needs to be recognized. It’s costing all of us. It’s costing the world. It’s costing our churches, our children, our own spirits. We may not even see it ourselves, but it’s manifesting itself nonetheless. And no one hurts worse than the one feeling unworthy.
I could count on two hands right now – just off the top of my head – women and girls I know who have felt this way. Here’s one mountainous way it manifests: we choose and then stay with abusive and/or neglectful partners. I start with this one because our physicality and emotionality is at risk here. This is 911 territory, dangerous and emphatically treacherous. But here’s how that happens. We think we are not good enough, deep-down in our souls. We have a gaping grand canyon hole that we think is just grape-sized. We literally believe we are not deserving of goodness, whether we know it or not. So we settle. Or we all-out choose a person who is mean to us. Because we don’t think we deserve better. Why do we do that? Because we view ourselves as less-than, not-enough, mediocre. This is not okay, this is not of God, and not who we were made to be. I have counseled women trying to leave their absent and abusive husbands, and been broken when they, to this day, stay. Obviously that is by their own choice, but it pains me to know they don’t even see their own worth. And no one can make another person see their own worth. There’s no ticket booth passing out tickets to self-worth, unfortunately.
We have to accept and have access to that beacon of strength that is burning like a meteor inside each of us. Once we realize we are our own best friend, and anyone attempting to deteriorate our spirit has to go, then we can move into action. This is not easy and is very difficult. This takes a very vibrant awareness and a seeing that may not always meet the eye, and sure won’t meet they eye of the person doing the harm. Regardless, get in the car and go. No looking back. Know that Jesus gave His complete trust and honor to women, and you also should be treated in this way.
Anything less is just not love.
Other ways this bubbles up into our lives is in various addictions, whether they be shopping, drugs, alcohol, social media, obsessive thinking, et cetera; anything at all in the world we are dumping ourselves into to avoid pain from the grand canyon hole inside our hearts. It takes a delicate dance to tiptoe around a canyon. The edge is always there, threatening…but very much alive. No one, including me, wants to admit to the grand canyon in there. It’s certainly easier to try and shop it away, pray it away, exercise it away, pill it away. But at what cost? Is it really worth living that way for forty years? Thirty? Twenty? One more day? What if it could all be better? What if today was that day you put those shoes on and said “NO MORE.” That canyon might not have been of your making, but you can absolutely put it in your rearview mirror….beginning now. You have one life, given you by the same God who made the mountains and oceans and all of creation.