"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." 1 Corinthians 7:23. "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in Him." 1 John 4:16. "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love..." Romans 8:38. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt.
Wait a minute you may say? Is this woman (meaning me) trying to proselytize, evangelize, hypothesize, analyze or criticize? You may ask. Well, you decide. Everyone can agree that we have worth. Note how wonderfully the human body is constructed. It is the design of the Creator. Not us. I remember once someone telling me that they did not believe in a Creator of any kind. To this I responded (don't ask me where I got this response; I am sure it is not original on my behalf, but I agree with it); I showed him a model of the universe with the planets orbiting around the sun (I did happen to be in the science room at the school where I was employed). I asked him how this beautiful model came to be? He replied, "Obviously, someone made it." I rest my case.
There is a Creator. We may not all agree who that is, but we do know that we did not create ourselves. "Through Him all things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3. Now look around at all the natural beauty that surrounds us; again not our doing. We marvel in and enjoy the beauty. "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of mankind." Job 12:7-10
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, meaning that we were made with great reverence, heart-felt interest, and with respect. Wonderfully when translated from the Hebrew language means unique and set apart. (Psalm 139:14). God's perspective matters far more than our status or what anyone thinks about us during the short time we will live on this earth before eternity. According to Christianity.com, "To be fearfully and wonderfully made includes every person from the womb to the tomb as human beings who bear the image of God. "Fearfully and wonderfully made' means God intimately knows every person and all humanity belongs to Him." We are valued in His eyes. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. The question is: What do you think of yourself?
I have quite a bit of time on my hands at home due to the pandemic and this lends to my mind being set in motion. (Of course I am doing other things, like writing this blog). I pondered over a few questions. If you (we) knew today would be our last, what would be your (my) priorities? Would we fight the same battles or be consumed with the same worries? Would we have the same opinion (positive or negative) of our body image? Would other people's opinions regarding us matter? Or, would the things that we really value surface? I do not know the answer/s to this for anyone else. Maybe I do not even know it for myself. What I do know is that it gives me pause to think and that leads me to even more questions. What/who do I really value? In what ways do I show that I value it, me, them? How can I be better at appreciating and showing that value?
Recently, I purchased and read a book entitled, "The Woman Code," by Sophia A. Nelson. I happened to be flipping through the channels one morning and paused on CNN. Ms. Nelson was a featured guest. Lately, I have been turning off the news channels. It's so depressing. But. for some reason, her words intrigued me. She started off by saying that a woman needs to understand her worth. Okay, this sounds a little cliche and a tad arrogant. Nevertheless, she had my attention. EspecialIy when she shared that she was a woman of faith. I put down the remote and lingered on the channel a while.
Although the book is titled, The Woman Code, upon reading it I realized that the guidelines/advice in the book applies to both women and men. It is all about treating ourselves with the love and dignity to which we have been ascribed by the Creator. Along the way, the path to self-worth has become cluttered with the debris of inferior thinking, followed by behavior that mimics our thoughts. To be fair, society has a huge impact on our thinking and influences our actions by supplying non-stop images of who we should be, what we should look like, who our friends should be, who our mate/s should be, where we should live, what kind of job we should have, what kind of car we should drive, and the list goes on. It takes only of these "should be's" to be absent from our lives and we find ourselves not living up to society's expectations thereby shattering our self-esteem and by extension our self-worth. A key point to acknowledge (which we forget or do not know) is that our reactions are under our control. Yet, we allow these things to infect our lives.
The Woman Code was particularly interesting because it put the control of our emotions and actions back in the hands of the individual. Ms. Nelson went back to "ground zero," to that clean slate where we all started with value endowed by our Creator. It is our responsibility to build on it and to sustain it. You know the wonderful thing is that the Creator is there to help us do just that. This ties directly to Eleanor Roosevelt's quote noted above. If you allow others to direct or change the way you think of yourself, it is entirely your doing. You have value, you do not have to prove this to anyone. Live this truth. Do not let anyone talk you out of your worth.
In the scripture above, we are reminded that we belong to God. We have no business being controlled by others, especially not those who have no regard for our wellbeing. God loves us unconditionally; we were made in His image and His love is everlasting. This should convince us that we have value. I have heard many people say "God does not make junk." This sounds crude, but it is true. We are each unique. God created us that way, therefore, we are of value/worth in the eyes of God. He loves us individually and collectively. Further, "nothing can separate us from the love of God." Romans 8:38.
Let's not be naive however. Life circumstances can wear us down causing us to (momentarily or even longer) believe that we are of no significant value. And yes, we sometimes get so low in our thinking as to believe that we don't have much to offer to ourselves or others; we feel worthless. Sadly, too many people dwell in a state of feeling worthless. They accept that they must be inferior or otherwise their life would be different. This behavior sends the message to others that we are without merit and the world can treat us that way. It is a reflection of how we are treating ourselves. So it is no wonder that people respond in kind and treat us like we do not matter. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7. You have to be on guard. You might want to adjust your thinking. I'm just saying.
Ms. Sophia A. Nelson puts it together nicely as almost a roadmap to self-respect and self-worth. Here is some of what I gleaned from it. Give a read. "Your values comes from your Creator, not your parents, siblings, friends, or naysayers." Sophia A. Nelson
Love yourself. Certainly we have heard this before. We might even believe that we are doing this. But, this is not always what the world sees. So, I say try harder. Just kidding. "You must love and like you or no one else ever will. Knowing your value means not only knowing who you are, but who you are not." Sophia A. Nelson. Love shows up in how you present to the world physically, socially, and emotionally. Accepting the opinions of others about your worth is a big mistake. They confirm the natural doubts and fears that we already harbor. Decide that you will not value any opinion about you above your own. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Build on each and remember to be kind and forgiving to and of yourself. In this way you are able to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Matthew 22:34-40. Know always that you are worthy of love. God loves you. Love yourself. The End.
Teach People How to Treat You. "If we do not know our value, we cannot teach people how to treat us with value. People take cues from us. People watch how we value ourselves. They listen to what we say. They look to see how confident we are or not. They watch to see how vibrant and resilient we are or not." Sophia A. Nelson.
It used to make me smile when a particular Pastor whose church my church fellowshipped with
(this Pastor knew of some of my challenges) when he would see me would say, "You do not
look like what you have been through." This was his way of saying that in spite of everything, I looked
good. That's the way I took it, and it gave me a lift every time. Take care of your health (mind, body and
spirit). Do not tolerate bad treatment from others. As soon as you notice that people are not
treating you the way you want to be treated, speak up. If the situation does not improve you may have
to remove them from your life (nothing drastic). Perhaps not allowing them access to sabotage you.
"If a person continually crosses your boundaries, violates your peace, and treats you in unkind, harmful
ways, they need to go." Ms. Nelson. This may sound harsh, but you cannot be responsible for people
who are broken and rather than seek to be made whole, they try to break you as well. Pray for them
and let them go. They will continue to mistreat you if you let them. You are worthy of love and
respect. When you continue to accept mistreatment, this is what others will believe you want. Nip it!
3. Live Authentically. Look around. We are losing authenticity. Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok
videos, filters on photos posted on social media. It's hard to know what is real. We even suffer
through pictures of what people eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. "Authenticity is all about being
you when everyone else is looking. Being authentic is all about loving yourself, liking yourself and
knowing your value. To be authentic, then, means learning to be yourself." According to Ms. Nelson,
and I agree, authenticity allows us to connect deeply with others because it requires us to be
transparent and vulnerable. Mike Robbins, former baseball player and author of "Be Yourself, Everyone
Else Is Already Taken" says, "authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine."
Being authentic allows you to live your life free of the riduculous expectation that you must be perfect.
No one is. Get rid of this undue pressure to measure up to impossible standards. Only God is perfect.
Authenticity leads to honesty and openness with the people in your life and the people you want to
attract in your life. Do not allow yourself to live on other people's terms. Remember that you have the
power to choose. Authenticity starts from within, determining what is meaningful to you, what being
happy or successful is to you. Follow through with actions that will make living life authentically a
reality. "And when you wake up to who you really are and who you are capable of being, life will never
be the same. To grasp that it is never too late to have a life and never too late to change one. You
don't need to be rescued, you need only to be awakened." Ms. Nelson. Wow! That is powerful.
Loved and gifted by God, what are you waiting for? Wake up! You have every tool in your arsenal to
love yourself, to teach people how to treat you and to live authentically. Now go forth and live a life
which reflects the value that God has placed on you! No longer talk about it, be about it! God bless
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