All it takes is one person to notice your worth for you to believe you have some. It doesn’t matter who that one person is — a friend, family member, boyfriend, teacher, coach. The result is the same. One person telling you that you matter, that you’re significant for any reason is enough.
And having those people in your life is so important. It’s the relationships you have with others, after all, that compose the day-to-day rhythm of life. That’s nothing new. It’s not groundbreaking.
But sometimes I fear I take that concept to the extreme. In my own odd way, with dramatics and jokes aplenty, I chase after the worth that comes from those around me. Sometimes that manifests itself in taking on a task that I don’t have time for, in staying late at work, in spending more time with people to the detriment of my own mental health (can I get an “amen,” fellow introverts?).
In the last couple months God has really been driving home one consistent theme in my head, heart, attitude — you name it. He has been relentless and it wasn’t until I was completely, physically alone that He and I finally got on the same page.
I was driving down I-65, headed for some quality time with my sister. I’d had a rough few months trying to navigate my own sensitivity within a friend group and I was quite honestly exhausted. I had been trying so hard to handle things, to make things better with these relationships. But all my efforts only made things exponentially worse.
In a way, it was the worst I had ever handled or not handled friend issues (hereafter known as frinssues) and it was the hardest I’ve ever tried to be a friend. Interesting, right? I would’ve thought the extra effort would reflect in enhanced relationships, but I would’ve been wrong.
You see, Satan is ridiculously good at what he does. And I am oftentimes ridiculously bad at looking past my hurt or self-righteousness or ignorance or *insert any shortcoming here* to recognize that he is the one who is really pulling the strings. It’s not the friends or the boss or the family members or the person you’re dating doing the hurting. It’s Satan.
And the only way I can salvage a relationship, respect an authority figure, keep the unkind words from flying — whatever the reaction is that will damage the relationship I have with that person — is by doing two things.
It’s what God kept whispering to my mind on my four-hour drive down I-65. His words were simple, but I didn’t understand them: Margin. Love them.
That’s it. Three words, over and over again. I just kept thinking, “Lord, I don’t know what the heck this even means. Where do I need margin? How can I love them more? Are we even talking about the same ‘them’? What else can I do to show how much I love them?”
It took two days for me to begin to understand what He was trying to tell me. And it took two more days after that for me to understand exactly how to apply that to my frinssues.
It’s all a chain: In order to really love people, I have to love God first. In order to really love God, I have to spend time with Him. In order to spend enough time with Him to really get to know Him, I have to have margin in my life. In order to have margin in my life, I have to say “no” to some things, some people, some plans.
But I won’t be able to even begin to move down that chain to the place I really want to be — the place where I love God so much that it infuses all my relationships — if I’m constantly chasing after the worth that comes from those around me.
So instead of believing that one friend, that one guy, that one co-worker, that one family member, that one person when they say I have worth, I want to rest in the One from whom all worth stems.
I have worth because He who is in me is worth everything.