(Fear of Worthlessness Part 2)
I hope after last week’s post you’ve started to notice which of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions are driven by fear of worthlessness, and how it is affecting your relationships with God and others.
How can we respond to this fear when we recognize it and stop letting it drag us around?
Just the observation that humans, myself included, are so concerned about personal worth and value begs several questions.
Why is being valuable so important to us?
Do we have value, or are we worthless?
Who/what is the source of human value?
Who/what is the source of human worthlessness?
We already answered why worthlessness is so terrifying last week.
As a reminder:
- If you are worthless you have no purpose, no reason to be here
- No one will value you, your thoughts, your words, your pain, your love
- So you are vulnerable to other people intentionally causing you pain or using you for their own satisfaction
- Everyone will eventually abandon you, you will be alone
- The anguish and despair 1-4 create will likely drive you to suicide
Well, I believe that answers our first question, “Why is being valuable so important?” Having value is the only way to avoid/escape the desolation of worthlessness. Therefore, a core belief in one’s value is necessary for life. Also, a core belief in the value of other people is necessary for healthy relationships (which are also necessary for life) since we are at the risk of perpetrating points 2, 3, and 4 upon the people labeled as worthless. I don’t want to be the source of anguish and despair for others, and I’m guessing you don’t either.
So are we valuable or not?
Short answer: no.
Did your chest just tighten up? What about your hands? Are you holding your breath? Are your eyebrows scrunched together? Are you feeling angry?
Are you wondering how I know all of that?
Because that’s exactly what I noticed in myself when I typed “no”.
The absolute refusal to entertain such a painful proposition, the instant desire to fight back and force the offense to flee, to violently oppose the threat to your value.
Okay, that’s intense. Let’s make it a little easier. We’ll start with what we want to be true, follow that to its logical conclusion, and see if it holds up:
I want to be valuable. Therefore, I am valuable. What makes me valuable is my decision to be valuable plus everything I’ve done that I am proud of, everything I’ve done that I value. Oh, and when other people say and do things which reinforce my value. That feels good too.
Anyone who tells me I’m not valuable, or treats me in the way I’ve decided is contrary to my value, is worthless. I am free to abuse and abandon them at will. Doing so reinforces my value to myself, and communicates to everyone else that they had better not devalue me or I will devalue them. Anyone who threatens to surpass the actions I’m proud of, or who proposes a different course of action in contrast to mine, is a threat to my value and must be rebelled against.
How’s that working out for us?
And that scenario doesn’t even begin to touch what happens when we, the source of our own value, fail to meet our own standards for what is valuable. Which is inevitable because none of us are perfect. (If you find yourself currently proud of how close you are to perfect, or at least how much better you are than a serial killer, might I suggest that denial of your imperfection is still a form of rebellion against worthlessness?)
Honestly, I’m tired of bearing the burden of responsibility for creating my own value out of little to nothing and defending it against all attackers including myself. It’s exhausting, and isolating, and not working.
Oh, look at that! We answered the fourth question, “Who/what is the source of human worthlessness?”
All the things we do, and fail to do, that hurt each other, ourselves, God.
Which supports my earlier conclusion: no.
We are not valuable.
Not the way we want to be.
Not on our own, independently. (hint, hint)
If rebellion isn’t working as a response to our fear of worthlessness (it’s actually just driving it harder) what are we supposed to do?
If you guessed “radical acceptance” based solely on the title of this post you are correct!
“But Sara, accepting worthlessness is even more depressing than your last post, and you promised we would head toward hope! I need some unicorns and kittens before I hit that pit of despair you were talking about earlier!”
But seriously, since value is necessary for healthy relationships and life in general, and all our rebellion induced efforts to create and defend our own value just don’t work, then we have to get value from somewhere outside of ourselves. If we are stuck in rebellion and denial we won’t be able to recognize a source of value even if it miraculously appears. Even if it’s as spectacular as someone coming back from the dead. We need to figure out how to practice radical acceptance so we don’t miss our real opportunity for a life without being bullied by fear!
“Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”Romans 5:6-8 The Message
Well, this post is long enough. Next week we will finally talk about a real source for our value, and how to be radical. Subscribe below, if you haven’t already, and maybe share this series with a friend who could use some kittens and unicorns.