Tag: loved

Enough.

Enough.

Can you remember a moment in time or a particular event in which you loved yourself? Maybe it was when you were wearing something special or winning a sporting event at school? I can remember a couple of occasions like this and in those moments, no one could have said anything to make me feel bad about myself. I felt confident. I loved myself. 

We all struggle with self esteem at times but despite the never ending day in, day out bullying at school, my self esteem/self love has never been as low as it has been once I got ill. What I used to lack in friends, I made up for by spending time with family. What I lacked in money to buy the latest gadgets, I made up in creative, imaginary games. What I lacked in sporting ability I made up for in hard work in classes, even though I wasn’t the most academic either. 

Now I can’t make up anything. My body decides what it looks like, how hard it will work, physically and mentally, how much time I spend with friends and ultimately, what I achieve. I can’t balance out the things I don’t like about me with things I do so easily because I can’t do or be what I want. 

You might know that YouBelong was shortlisted as a finalist for the Premier Digital Awards. When I found out, I was in shock! For days I couldn’t process the information. ‘Why would anyone want to read what I’m writing, let alone recognise it with an award?’ Then I saw past winners and was blown away by how amazing there projects, websites, social media, apps and podcasts were and the shock quickly changed to imposter syndrome. I believed it because I read it, but I didn’t think I deserved it. 

I am writing this post because I know so many of us in the chronic illness/ disabled community have felt this way at least once in our life as a result of our situations. I am happy to have been seeing more posts about productivity not equalling worth going round as when we can’t work or keep a household, it’s easy to wonder what is the point? What’s our purpose?

We are taught to love our neighbour as ourself but how can we do that when we don’t love our selves. A lack of self esteem is the result of a lack of self love.  So what can we do? There are a few ways to look at this. For years I have just blocked out and tried to ignore what the people around me are doing so as I can’t be upset by comparing my lack of achievements and life goals with theirs but that can only work doe so long, especially when I use social media on a daily basis. 

Instead, I need to look at where I am getting my self esteem from. Rather than looking for it in a place I won’t find it or just blocking it out, I have decided to find it in other places – like the Bible. God tells us that He made us and that He loves us just as we are. Not just when we are running youth groups, leading services or saving lives but just the way we are. Maybe you are reading this from your bed on a bad flare up day and you can’t even get up to to get dressed or get yourself a drink. God loves you and still sees you as amazing. It’s nice to have compliments about the way we look or what we have done but it surely can’t get better than our creator telling us we are beautiful and great just as we are. ‘Doing’ nothing. 

Mary and Martha are a great example of this. One of them rushed about to get everything sorted and ready so as she could please Jesus and feel she’s done a good job. The other sat and just listened yet Jesus praised that behaviour. 

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, there is nothing we can do to make God love us less but there’s also nothing to make God love us more. Whether you are asleep all day or out on the streets feeding the poor, God loves you – you just need to work on loving you too.

Knowing that YouBelong is being recognised for something is something I can be proud of as it is not where my worth comes from, that is in who I am as a child of God. If I do this, I won’t become big headed or find myself in the midst of Imposter Syndrome again because my worth is not in what I have or have not done.

Is there some areas of your life you need to work on in terms of self worth? Perhaps your self worth is in your 9-5 job, your creativity, time doing deeds for others (never a bad thing but not where your self worth should come from) or the way you look? Write these down to remind yourself these are not the place to find your worth because if something happens to your job, your ability to create or your physical being, you will lose your worth. You are a child of God = loved and worthy.

Unholy and unclean. Who decides?

Unholy and unclean. Who decides?

I was at church a few weeks ago and in the middle of the service, I tuned into some words being spoken directly from the bible which I wanted to share with you. These words came from the lectionary reading for Sunday 19th May (for anyone who is interested), and came from the book of Acts, verses 1-18. I am going to be focusing on the last couple of verses but urge you to read the whole passage for a better understanding.

‘…So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” – v.17-18

There are so many parts of this passage which speak to me but I am going to pick out the key bits which I feel are most relevant to my life, the life of those who walk a path similar to my own, and the Church.

Metaphorically speaking, I am a Gentile. But not a Gentile from this passage but rather one from some time before this. A time when Jews were above Gentiles, and Gentiles were considered unholy and unclean because they didn’t obey the religious rules set by the Jewish leaders such as avoiding certain foods, washing in particular ways and circumcision. I relate to this description because I am disabled and therefore, considered by many people in society as lesser than the rest. Perhaps even an outcast.

The lesson for the Church, and for those of you reading who are not marginalised and truly belong to a church without judgement and segregation, is it is not God’s will for you to judge others based on their race, style, age, abilities, etc. You are equal to everyone else, even those you look down on and cross to the other side of the road to avoid. That is God’s job, no one else’s and I am glad for God has grace and mercy beyond human capacity and understanding. Even as early as Leviticus, God is very clear about His intentions for all to be equal – “You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” (19:14).

We are all at fault of judging but if we are aware of that, we can catch ourselves in the act and stop before we cause long term, irreparable harm to others. People who God made and loves just as much as us! But God doesn’t expect you to change overnight. It can take a while to change and that’s okay. In the passage from Acts, it says ‘they had no further objections’ but it was unlikely, or even impossible, for them to suddenly change from a life of despising the Gentiles to recognising their worth and equality in God’s eyes and their own. They were giving up an ingrained belief and entire culture because they recognised God was working in these people too. Difference is not often appreciated or praised in our culture so turning judgement and inequality into love and equality is going to take time and need practice. But don’t worry – God is with you and will help you every step of the way. See all people as His people, and you can’t go wrong.

The lesson for us? Those who are viewed as lesser, unequal, undeserving? We ARE equal to all those in the church who you see serving and living lives which are full of generosity, kindness, servitude, love and worship even thought we struggle physically to do practical things each week to serve God and show His people the love He shows us. Just because we cannot stand up and preach, lead sung worship, visit the sick, help an elderly lady with her shopping, give to the offering because we are unable to work to afford to do so, does not mean that we are lesser than those who can. We have our own ways of serving and loving others. Some of us pray continuously for those around us even though we ourselves are struggling. Others of us share blog posts or stories online to help encourage, bless and teach those who cannot get to church, some build up online friendships with those who are lonely, some bake for neighbours when they are sick and others write songs out of their pain and suffering to help show God to those who hear it. We all have our gifts and talents that God has given to us and just because we; cannot stand long enough to preach or run to raise funds for church building repairs, travel long distances to visit those who are sick or attend church in person, it doesn’t mean we are lesser in God’s eyes or have less worth.

We may not seem equal right now but if we keep showing the Church what we can do, soon they will be unable to ignore us and all God is using us to do for Him and His kingdom and ultimately, in heaven, we will all sit at the same table. No one more powerful, special or worthy than anyone else – exactly how God intended.