I'm speaking at church this morning about value, and how I've moved recently from an understanding of God which was performance-based, to one of being acceptable for who I am. This has been a profound shift in my thinking and behaviour, for I used to work so hard to be considered acceptable to God, and I see now that all of that time and effort was driven by me, and not required by him, or in fact by most anyone who genuinely loves me.
I saw my value as intrinsically enmeshed with my performance. I could not separate one from the other. They were braids in a rope, hopelessly tangled and for all intents and purposes, one thing. I now see that they are actually quite separate. I can be loved and accepted for who I am, even if I never do anything to deserve it, and this is a concept I had no real interaction with before the last month or so.
My inability to slow down and relax was tied up in this fear, because I thought if I stopped frantically producing something, my value would be lost. Many of the arguments Jason and I have fought over the years have been related in some way to my damaged sense of self-worth, and the endless "rat on a wheel" race to keep up with others and in fact, myself. It was a losing battle, especially when it came to God, because if he is perfect and I am imperfect, what chance did I have to be accepted and loved by him?
There is such immense freedom in separating out who I am from what I do. They are two different things, and God loves me for me, not for what I can do. Generally speaking, most of my family and friends fall into this category too, provided I let them love me. It was hard for me to be loved by the closest people in my life. I was always working to earn it, even when that wasn't a requirement on the relationship. I simply had no other grid for relationship, but I do now, and it's like a sunrise all day every day.
It's such a relief to simply be myself without all of the other trappings, and come to God with the timid understanding that I can be loved without any of my usual defenses. I feel like a child again, unencumbered by all of the shields and walls that we end up building to survive in the harsh realities of our world. It's strange to be so vulnerable and open, but it also feels like my wounds are being sewn up, gently and with a numbing anaesthetic for the pain. Love does that for you in a way nothing else can imitate.
I'm looking forward to walking out this sense of value. I don't want to work so hard to prove myself anymore, but instead relax into who I am and what I can offer to those in my life. I am only responsible for myself, and what I do flows out of who I am, so I would rather put time and energy into my personality instead of my accomplishments. I want to enjoy what I do and not be punished by the demands of my ambition, and I'm beginning to understand that the joy comes from knowing who I am and feeling secure and loved instead of working furiously for anyone's affection.
I hope it goes well today. I would normally over-prepare for something like this, obsessing over every word and detail and then reading a sheaf of papers instead of speaking from my heart. I've been living this change, on a precipice balancing over the rocks below, and I think it will carry more impact if I can talk without any notes at all. It is a risk for me, but I'm learning that risk equals reward, so here I go to do something new, and explore the idea that we all carry value for who we are before we work for it in what we do.