I once tried selling makeup and plastic bowls with burping lids at “parties” to ladies who’d been bribed into attending with obscene amounts of sweets.
I am so not a saleswoman.
I’ve never been good at convincing people to spend their money on some product we both know they don’t need. Perhaps my tightwad practical side is to blame. It’s just that I have a hard time seeing the value of stuff sometimes.
Unfortunately, this inability to see worth carries over into my life, to moments when my self-worth is being questioned or challenged. I have never done well with criticism. I don’t get defensive or retaliate with snappy come-backs. When my worth is challenged, I quietly cave. Probably because, as a kid, I believed put-downs. Every time. Didn’t matter if the person didn’t know me. For some odd reason, I figured they just knew. Put-downs weren’t hard to believe because I could usually see some truth in it.
It’s healthy to be honest with ourselves. For instance, I want to know when I’m being a thoughtless, self-absorbed jerk so I can stop doing it. (Did I just hear an Amen?)
But for some of us, there can be a down-side to flaw-seeking, inward scrutiny.
When burdened with feelings of low self-worth or humiliation, the temptation is to seek reassurance I’m not that bad. I must admit: I am pretty good at listing all the things I know are wrong with me. The problem is the longer the list, the more likely someone will jump to my defense and reassure me I’m not so bad. Not bad at all. In fact, those people usually follow up with a list of all the good things they see and appreciate about me.
Yes, I just realized how pathetic that sounds.
The trouble with such a ploy for reassurance is that I somehow forget there really are a couple truly weak or sinful areas that still need some attention. Throw the baby out with the bath water. Kind of. Okay, that’s a really bad cliché. More like out of sight, out of mind. (Still cliché, but less disturbing.)
So we’re back to square one.
What exactly was it that You saw in me, God?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139)
That’s just it—it’s not about me. God has this astounding capacity for love that I can’t wrap my brain around. It has something to do with his holy, righteous nature. I also know that Jesus paid a costly price for me. That alone determines my worth. I can’t demure, discount, or play games with that.
God sees great worth in me, not because of anything I’ve done, but because he made me and paid an enormous price for me. Clothed me in a righteousness I don’t deserve. I have a choice: Either cheapen God’s priceless gift by playing the I’m Bad/Okay, I’m Not So Bad/No Really, I’m Bad game while avoiding what I actually need to change, or allow Christ to shine the light of truth into all my motives, thoughts and actions, and purify me—the sinner he paid the ultimate price for without hesitation.
Q: How do you respond to criticism, from others and yourself? Do you get defensive? Take it to heart so deeply that it crushes and you have to toss it all out? Or do you ask Jesus to show you if there is any truth to it that needs your attention?