Have you ever felt “less than” or not enough? Do you feel as if you will never meet the expectations of those around you? Are you constantly striving, exhausted, always living the “if only, then…” way: If only I achieved success, got that promotion, reached my goal weight, found love, etc., then I would be valued, worthy, good enough. Are you kidding? you are thinking to yourself, I think those thoughts all the time!
We all do. Those thoughts certainly haunted me throughout most of my adolescence and young adult life. Being adopted, I always had this feeling that I was not good enough and had to prove that I was worthy of love and acceptance. Yet all of that striving and trying to be “enough” on my own led absolutely nowhere. I was on a spinning wheel of trying to measure up to the world’s system of valuing performance-oriented behavior, a system that requires you to show people who you are and what you can do in order to convince them of your value.
I have to have the right kind of job.
I have to look a certain way.
I have to drive the right kind of car.
I have to build the illusion that I have it all together.
It’s deceptive because, for a while, you feel as if you are successful and valued on the outside. You feed on the accolades and the compliments and the measuring sticks of your success, but it’s never enough. In truth, “performance-oriented behavior” is a trap that keeps genuine fulfillment just out of your reach.
I experienced some outward success in my younger years but struggled with stress and disillusionment. The fruits of my performance-oriented behavior, though nicely dressed with the trappings of success, were not fulfilling. I was left feeling more driven by anxiety and compulsion, immeasurably worse off than when I had begun. I felt lost and very far away from my purpose.
I had finally reached the end of my own abilities. I stepped off the spinning wheel and took one step back to God. After running from Him for so long, I offered up my life, not even sure it was worth anything to Him. It felt so small, messy, imperfect, and unworthy. Surely I had messed up my life and purpose with my own efforts. I couldn’t comprehend that it was me that was of enormous value to God.
The moment I realized my value is when everything changed.
It turned my world upside down. As I began to comprehend my value, I came to understand how God thought about me. He chose to create me; and He chose to create you! In Psalm 139, we see David beautifully depict God’s ever-present interest in us. He searches us out and knows us, He sees our every action and lovingly created our innermost beings. He chose us. David exclaims in Psalm 139:6 that “such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” We are incredibly loved and valued.
Choice is one of the biggest components in love. It’s easy to feel love, but it’s another thing entirely to choose to love. From love comes the subsequent valuing of something or someone. God thought about us, wanted us, chose us, and acted upon that choice. There is great value in this understanding. The valuing of something is always indicative of the effort, time, and sacrifice, the price applied, the belonging to, and the determination to be sought out and acquired.
God thought about you, chose you, and wanted you! Just let that sink in for a moment.
Yet there is an even greater truth about His love. We have guaranteed value to Him—value that cannot be earned or revoked. The words guaranteed and value touch on the idea that humans have two very important emotional and psychological needs: 1) to feel they are important, special, that they have worth (value), and 2) to be able to depend on these feelings as true (guaranteed, security). This is why God reiterates over and over again throughout the Bible how very valuable we are, that we have great worth, and furthermore, that we can believe this with complete confidence.
On the contrary, our world establishes value based on what you do, who you know, how you look, what you own, or how much money you have and that value can fluctuate as easily as the stock market changes from day to day. God’s economy doesn’t work that way! He created us and knew before the beginning of time what purpose He had for us. He was willing to put in the effort to bring His vision to completion, to commit to the process, to know there was a diamond in the rough of great value. He is not depending on us to ensure our own value—the Creator, the Purchaser, the Committed One determines the value of the object. I am reminded of Philippians 1:6, that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (NIV). When He thought us and bought us, He knew what he was getting into with us. What a relief! We can relax and simply follow Him, trusting that He will complete the work in us.
God is not fixing us up to make us valuable; he is fixing us up because we are so valuable.
As we begin to fully understand WHO establishes our value—our God and Creator—we know that nothing else matters as far as our true value is concerned. Our value is intrinsic. It does not come from anything we can do or create. It originates from our Creator. We are made in the image of God, which instills value in and of itself.
I love to use the analogy of a $100 bill. If I were to give you a crumpled-up hundred-dollar bill, would you still take it? Of course! What if I gave you a $100 bill that had been in the parking lot, stepped on, stuck with chewing up gum—would you still see the value in it? What if that same $100 bill was in a dumpster, would you search for it? I don't know about you, but I would put plastic gloves on and get busy looking! Because no matter where that hundred-dollar bill has been, no matter what filth it has on it, no matter how many times it has been crumpled up, it's still worth $100!
And the same is true of our value to God.
Like the $100 bill, we cannot do anything to decrease or increase our own value. We have guaranteed value because God values us. It does not depend on us!! Let’s say that again! We can rest and depend on the fact that He values us, therefore we are valuable. It is guaranteed.
Though we sin, our mistakes and blunders are seen through the eyes of love, attachment, and belonging. Our sin, though grievous to Him because he knows its consequences, is not reflective of our value, or our own authenticity, or why we were made. Think of the $100 bill again. Even if it had been used to purchase drugs or some other nefarious purpose, that transaction doesn’t devalue the $100 bill. It’s simply not being used for its highest, greatest good. It is the same with us and our value when we stumble. Our sin does not affect our value or His love for us; it only increases His sorrow.
If you ever question your value (and we know we all do), please know that at your worst, Christ died for you. Before you even knew you needed Him, before you even knew He wanted you, He valued you.
Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Even when we were nothing, in terms of the world’s version of value, we were valued by our Creator. Before the world ever saw our value or acknowledged our worth, we were valued. Before we even knew Him, He valued us beyond measure. We were valued just as sunken treasure, or searching for a gold mine. He knew (and knows) our worth and works relentlessly to show our true value. As Romans 5:8 relates, even when we were at our worst with absolutely nothing to offer of value, Christ died for us.
This truth about guaranteed value is revolutionary and so counter-culture. It is utterly inconceivable to our human minds that someone would love us in that state. But to die for us? Unimaginable.
Even in my darkest hour, when I felt I had absolutely nothing to offer Him, God scooped me up and called me “valued.” He took all my plans and missteps and striving and redeemed me with His love. He showed me that I was His child, bought and paid for with the sacrifice of His Son. I didn’t need to do anything to earn His love. Because I was His child, I had intrinsic value.
God was and is enough.
I was and I am good enough.
God wants us to move the knowledge of His love for us from our heads to our hearts so that we assimilate it into our identity. If the intellectual truth becomes integrated into our heart, then we can access it now—it makes sense. When it comes to my value I need to accept it the same way that I accept that Christ died for me and that Jesus is who He says He is. This is not easy, however. We as Christians can accept that Jesus is the son of God, rose from the dead, resides in Heaven, and lives in our hearts, yet we can still struggle with believing we are valuable.
We must accept that we are sinners who are highly valued by God and in need of a Savior.
As a result, we need to realize and accept: “I cannot regain what I have not lost.” We can feel devalued because of our behaviors, but our value to God cannot be altered. Regardless of how unlovely, how unworthy, how invaluable we feel, we must respond to the truth of God who says we are highly valued and very precious in His sight.
We must believe and internalize this truth about God’s guaranteed value of us, regardless of our sin or failures or feelings of unworthiness. Feelings should not be indicators of our value. I like to say it this way: “Feelings are very real, but not always true.” This insight revolutionized my life. When we feel condemnation, false guilt, toxic shame, we need to remember Scripture. We need to be reminded that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God will never condemn His children; He corrects, He chastises, and He disciplines, but He never causes any child of His to feel despondent, alone, gross, unlovable, unwanted, or beyond help. The conviction of Scripture always produces life, not death or darkness. When the enemy wants to devalue your very existence by pointing out your sins and shortcomings, you need to refute it with the truth that you were so highly valued that God Himself died in your place.
When we let go of the lies and the feelings of “not good enough” and embrace the truth of God’s value for us and our redemption through Jesus Christ, we take a step toward living in His abundant grace.
I encourage you to take a step of faith today, just like I did, believing the One who created you and values you. Allow God to scoop you up and call you “valued one.” Accept that He values you regardless of your behavior. Accept that God values you even if you don’t feel it or comprehend it. Remember, even when we didn't belong to Him or choose Him, He loved us and died for us all. This is the proof of our inherent value.
It’s guaranteed, and on that you can depend!
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. —Ephesians 2:8-10