If you had asked me this question some years ago, I would have immediately replied:
Yet, the truth was that I typically found my value elsewhere. At times, I put my value in my abilities, the number of speaking opportunities I might have, or in whether or not I felt valued by certain people. The affirmation of others was far too important to me. Consequently, instead of living as a person deeply loved by God, I lived in order to receive the affirmation, love, and pleasure of others. Again, I would have affirmed that I believed that I was loved by God, but my life said that I really sought value and love elsewhere.
Do you relate to any of these?
*Perhaps you are constantly talking about how smart and exceptional your child is. Could it be that you are finding your worth in how well she is performing academically?
*Perhaps you talk on and on about your child’s athletic ability. Could it be that you are finding your worth in how well he is performing on the basketball court?
*Do you ever find yourself really disturbed about any change in your body? Could it be that you are finding your worth in your physical attractiveness?
*Could it be that you are finding too much of your identity and self-worth in the size or location of your house, the car you drive, or your vacation destination?
I recently read Psalm 103 again. The chapter saturates the reader with the absolute, incomprehensible love of God for his children — including you and me. Within this Psalm are these amazing words, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (103:11-12). If I am certain of his love for me, my life then takes on a much different flavor. If I live out of the riches of his love for me, then I am not always functioning in order to get someone’s affirmation, attention, compliment, etc.
In other words, I am a “full” person (full and confident of God’s love) relating to others out of the overflow of God’s love for me. If I am confident of God’s love for me, I am living in his love, secure in his love, and treasured in his love. I then relate to others as a person who can give and serve, not looking for what I can get out of the relationship.
This is very different than trying to live out of my emptiness and relating to people in order to get filled up with love, affirmation, and applause. Living out of my emptiness can cause me to see people for what I can get from them. I may use my children, my possessions, my beauty, or any other asset to somehow get more affirmation and approval. Living this way is a dead-end street.
To be absolutely convinced of God’s love for me, allows me to see myself as a person valued, loved, and affirmed fully. Perhaps then, as an answer to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3, we can begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for us. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19)