For the majority of my life, I have sought in vain to find my value in others. I tried to work hard, and be a good provider for my family. I tried in vain to please my wives. Two failed marriages later, I find myself trying to figure out what went wrong. I never got the affirmation that I was looking for, because I was taking my question to people without the ability to answer it. I was counting on other people to tell me a good man. No matter how good you are, that approval is only as good as long as you are doing right. The biggest problem is that it doesn't allow you any room for error. When you fall on your face, and you disappoint someone it is like chopping your legs out from under you. This leads to a hesitate attitude. I spent my entire life just expecting my next failure. It is like walking on egg shells. You can never really enjoy any happiness, because you just know that all your bliss will end in a moment. I am certain that I was even worse in my second marriage. I spent so long hoping my first wife would tell me that I was a good man. When our marriage ended in divorce I got an answer that I was not able to handle. When you enter a relationship with a sense that you are no good at relationships, then you have set yourself up for failure. How would I ever commit all of myself? I had to be a miserable person to live with. At some point, I think I became nothing more than a fire fighter. With each fire I just poured more contempt onto myself. As I grow more depressed, I withdrew in myself. Withdrawing only made things worse. The fires became more frequent. Finally, I came to a point of believing that I would never get it right. I became hopeless.
Even since my separation, I have struggled with where I find my value. I was so obsessed with what people would think of me. I mean I am a two-time failure. I could not engage in attempts to save my family, without first telling everyone how hard I was going to work. It is really kind of pitiful and embarrassing to admit it. It goes further than that though. I would go through the week. Everyone that I would talk to me would tell me I was doing the right things. People would tell me they were impressed with how I was handling things. I am not sure I would share that sentiment, but that is what a lot of people told me. I would feel so good. I would feel like for the first time in my life that I was right where God had wanted me to be all along. Then I would get a text or an email from my wife, and the wind would be sucked out of my sails. It was amazing to me how one person questioning my motives or disagreeing with my decisions could send my head spinning like that. You would think that I would be able to weigh the evidence and come to a more rational judgement. I have spent years with an unhealthy dependence on her approval. As I said before, I never really received it. I think that is a shared problem. I should have never based all of my self-worth on her approval, and at times I think there were better ways to draw the best out of me. It really doesn't really matter whose fault it was. The important part is that we were both so miserable. There was so much for us, but I was too weak to see that. Had I taken time like I have over the last few months to figure all this out, then I am certain things would have been so much better. Who knows perhaps we would still be together.
Here is the truth of the matter. You will never find your worth in the opinion of others. When you drop the ball the criticism comes like an atom bomb to your self-worth. The other side of the coin is that your partner can never have a rough day. If they come home and are a little impatient or crabby, then what would be a chance to comfort one another, becomes dynamite to your person. When you feel every bit of your worth shaken, then you withdraw into yourself. The more often this happens the further you withdraw. No person should be asked to prop up the worth of another. We are just not able to do that. It is unfair and destined for failure. How could you ask another fallen creature to look after something so precious as your own self-worth? It is somewhat suicidal. Here is everything that I am. If you choose you could completely destroy me. Be careful. What was I thinking?
Where can you find your value? We find our value exactly where we were intended too. You will never find a better place to find your value, than in God. God knows every intimate detail of your life, and he loves you. I think it was Matt Chandler that said, "in God we are fully known and delighted in". If you can take the time to look at yourself as God looks at you then you will be better able to handle failures. When we fail people we care about, many of them never forget that. When we fail God, he is more interesting in how we recover. WIll you stay in your failure, or will you get up and move on. It is very difficult to more from men's approval to God's. I am struggling today with losing the approval of someone I care about. I just have to keep reminding myself how much God cares for me. He loves me just the way I am. I am not supposed to get it all right. He expects me to fail. He has already seen how many times I will fall on my face before the earth was made. He extends me grace to cover all of my failings, and strength to stand again and move on. I think my biggest mistake has always been to dwell in failure. If I had been able to stand back up, dust myself off, and move forward then I sure that my life would look a lot different today. Even that statement is self-defeating. I can't dwell on all my yesterdays. As big as my failures have been, God has covered them all. If I find my value in God, then I am able to accept criticism. The hurtful things that others may say to me can roll off my back. Who am I going to trust anyway? Will I trust the opinion of someone who is in the same mess as I am? Or will I trust a Holy Perfect God? It seems like a no brainer to me.
My value is already a settled issue. Two thousand years ago, the incarnate Son of God climbed the hill of Calvary, because I have value. He did it because I was worth it. I was thinking about this the other night. I came up with a bit of a bizarre illustration. Here in Ohio, there is a county official that calibrates gas pumps. They come with precise measuring equipment. God has come and measured my value with his precise and perfect equipment. When I rely on people to measure my value, then it would be like trusting someone with a couple of beat up milk jugs to calibrate the gas pump. Where would you want to buy gas? Which calibration would you trust more? We have to be able to trust what God has already said about us. God is the source of our life, and he is the source of our value.