If I were a fly soaring through WECHC, in and out of individual and group sessions at any given point in time, I imagine that I would hear the words “I don’t deserve…” or “I am not worthy…” like a chorus repeating itself with power and familiarity. These core beliefs continue to expose themselves and seem to resist being challenged or reframed with any sense of permanency. They taunt us like the smirking child who chimes, “I know a song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend..”. And, I don’t know about you, but I for one am ready for a different tune, a more life-giving refrain to this human journey.
To get there, however, I think we need to start with our understanding of worth. As far as I can tell, there are two primary ways of thinking about worth and how you get it: it’s either something you earn or it’s something you are. If it something you earn, then how? Who determines whether you are worthy or unworthy or where in between? What are the standards, how does one measure? What tells me person A is mostly worthy but person B, not so much? If I don’t know how I lose worth than how can I ever increase it? This feels confusing and futile. It seems like a messy, entirely subjective system that lacks substance and certainty.
So, what if instead, worthy is either something you are or you aren’t? This understanding of worth feels stable, constant, simple; it removes the guessing. Here again, though, we have two options: unworthy or worthy. With the first, you are unworthy, were created unworthy, and can do nothing to change this as it’s a fact of existence. Since it is intrinsic, if one of us is unworthy, then all of us are. Humans were created and remain unworthy and undeserving; it’s part of our nature. On the contrary, with the second option, you are worthy, were created worthy, and you can do nothing to change this as it’s a fact of existence. If this is the case, then it is the nature of all humans to be and remain equally worthy.
So, one might ask, which one is it?
Some people choose the former. Some people foster the belief that humans including themselves are inherently bad. In my experience, things like eating disorders, depression, and suicidal ideation feed on this belief and create continuous cycles of lack of motivation, inadequacy, withdrawal, despair and defeat. On the other hand, some people choose to believe instead that humans are inherently good, that we are all worthy and deserving of good things such as love and belonging. These beliefs tend to breed hope, peace, purpose, rejuvenation, and life.
In the end, it is all a matter of belief. Do I believe I am worthy or do I not? Do I want to believe I am worthy or do I not? We can’t change what others have taught us about who we are. With great patience, work, and mindfulness, however, we can choose to change what we believe and feel about ourselves.
The choice reminds me of a Native American legend:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil.” He continued, “The other is good. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Call the wolves Worthy and Unworthy. The invitation is to consider which one you will feed with your time, attention, and energy this week.
Deeper Connection to Faith:
Scripture reminds us:
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17, NRSV).
We are children of God.
If that statement does not bear witness to one’s worth, I’m not sure what would. Thus, if as believers we deem that we are children of God we are also called to believe that we are worthy, have always been worthy, and will always be worthy.
Here, the deeper invitation is to discern how you might step up and claim this truth about yourself. What would it look like to live, move, speak, and breathe from within this reality… for a moment, an hour, a day?
You are worthy. You are a child of God. This is your truth. Claim it.
Many blessings and happy claiming,
Nikki Holm, MA, Chaplain