“The Weight of My Worth” – The title, in these five words, captured the previous five years of my life. I had the opportunity to share my story with a women’s magazine, and “the weight of my worth” summarized my journey into perfectionism, brokenness, and finally healing.
After years of taking baby steps forward and giant steps backward in my recovery from an eating disorder, a Christian counselor introduced me to a book that opened a door into freedom. Having absolutely nothing to do with nutritional guidelines or eating habits, it was unlike any book I had been advised to read.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
“Anytime we think we can find salvation in our hard work, we are in grave danger. If our hard work fails or (worse yet) if it succeeds, we are stuck with ourselves for a god. That means we have destined ourselves to journeying through life’s wilderness assuming that the solution to every problem is to try harder.” *
If you haven’t struggled with an eating disorder, you may wonder how this statement relates. But I can tell you that it does. The sense of control, accomplishment, failure, or success is measured by the number on the scale. That number says:
“Yes – you’ve been good!”
“Uh oh, you haven’t been good.”
When something other than God becomes a gauge for your goodness, it becomes a god.
Besides a set of scales, our culture is filled with other measuring sticks:
- the number of your social media friends & followers
- your grade point average
- your salary
- a sticker on your car that reads 13.1 or 26.2 (or 0.0, in my case)
And some measuring sticks aren’t attached to numbers, yet they remind you that you’ve come up short (again). The job went to someone else or you missed the cut or the invitation never arrived.
Yet if we will accept by faith that we are loved immeasurably by a limitless God, all the other measures that say “you’ve arrived”/”you’re accepted” or “you’ve not arrived”/”you’re not accepted” are limited in their power to define or dishearten us.
Consider these words from C.S. Lewis – “ … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
While we are preoccupied with making ourselves worthy of love, God has loved us all along.
Are you weary, friend, of trying so hard? The weight of your own worth will exhaust you of any enthusiasm and joy in life. Are you discouraged because you can’t fit your own definition of goodness?
The truth is that God loved you before you could move the scales of goodness or worthiness one single ounce. Knowing that we can’t do it on our own, He placed the burden of measuring up to His holiness upon His Son.
A gauge that becomes a god says “try harder,” but grace that comes from THE God says “Trust Me.”
The original meaning of the word “glory” is “to be heavy” or “to weigh upon.” God’s glory is weightier – or more momentous, more powerful, and more significant than any created thing. We see in Scripture that God’s glory knocks people right off of their feet.
The weight of God’s worth knocks away all the props that once held us up. And when we find ourselves on our faces, we come to realize that trying harder is like putting a band aid on major cracks in the foundation. As one who has been face down in the debris of a broken life, I want my story to remind us that God’s love cannot be achieved.
God’s love is meant to be received.
In return for this priceless gift, God doesn’t ask us to prove that we are worth it. He desires us to worship. And in doing so – in ascribing the highest honor and worth to Him and not ourselves – we are freed to let go of our controlling and striving and let God be God.
When we live as if we truly believe that God delights in us, our load lightens. Instead of grasping for another rung on the status ladder, our hands become offerings of grateful worship and service.
The apostle Paul, who had once been laden with self-righteousness, was transformed – literally knocked off his feet (Acts 9:4) – by the weight of not his own glory but the glory of Christ:
“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4: 5 – 7).
Paul describes us as jars of clay, and the treasure inside is the precious message of the Gospel. Our credentials, abilities, and winsome personalities are dim flames compared to Jesus’ glorious, dark-dispelling light.
Through the fragility of a clay jar, with its flaws and cracks, the glory of God shines. If we can’t trust that we are accepted, we can’t be authentic. But if we will forget that gauges that once measured us and if we will receive grace, we will be vessels for God’s glory – flawed, perhaps, and fragile, but genuine. I truly believe that God is glorified when we are genuine – when we authentically share our lives and our struggles and our weaknesses – and allow people to see that we can only press on because inside of us lies a hope and a strength that is not our own.
In the words of Saint Augustine: “When God is our strength, it is strength indeed. When our strength is our own, it is only weakness.”
So when the weight of my worth is based upon what I do, it is weak and unable to withstand the pressure of failure, doubt, and criticism.
But when the weight of my worth is based upon who I am – a jar of clay that contains the light of Christ, it is strong and reinforced by His acceptance. It doesn’t crumble under the strain of self-reliance but relies on the Light within to radiate God’s glory. It doesn’t need to try harder. It trusts.
So today, remember with me that the weight of our worth is a load we are not meant to bear. That burden was pounded into the ground with the Cross. Join me there as we exchange this weight for worship.
(Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 4 to speak of suffering in comparison to God’s “eternal weight of glory.” In Part 3, I’ll share why this gives me hope).
“The only thing you can grasp without damaging your soul is My hand.” ~ Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young (entry for February 5).
* When God Interrupts by M. Craig Barnes, pages 157 – 158
C.S Lewis, “Weight of Glory” sermon published in Theology, November 1941. http://www.verber.com/mark/xian/weight-of-glory.pdf
T.M. Moore – “The Weight of Glory,” http://www.colsoncenter.org/the-center/columns/viewpoint/20387-threads-in-the-tapestry-of-truth-2