Yesterday Chicory blogged about the realization that she derives her sense of self-worth from what she can do for others (here). It took me back to my own journey.
I’d say it started, gosh, probably 23, 24 years ago. I know I wasn’t yet 21. I was living on my own for the first time. Mom was living with Liz and our brother near the coast of Texas with our grandfather. I was up in the DFW area. I worked in Dallas at a job I detested. My favorite uncle and his then-wife, who lived in Houston, decided to go to the Kerrville Folk Festival, and invited us to join them. So I made arrangements to fly to Houston, where my Mom would pick me up at the airport, take me to my uncle’s house, and we’d all ride out together with my uncle and aunt. I asked one of my few–very few–friends to take me to the airport and then pick me back up.
We had a good time at the folk festival. I loved the music, loved the freedom, loved camping out. I was a little shocked at a few things my uncle said to me, but hey, he was from a different generation, and had different opinions, so I shrugged them off and didn’t let them worry me too much. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to going back to work, but all good things must end, so I reluctantly boarded the plane that carried me back to Dallas Love Field.
When I got to the airport in Dallas, my friend wasn’t waiting for me anywhere. I waited, patiently at first, and then got more and more worried. I tried calling her, but couldn’t reach her. Finally deciding that she had forgotten, I called another friend who lived near me in Fort Worth. She left immediately. About 10 minutes later, the other friend arrived. When I apologetically told her that I’d just called someone else, she was furious with me. She could not believe that I thought so little of her to think that she would forget about me. But that wasn’t it at all. It was that I thought so little of myself. She didn’t understand that, and I don’t think she ever talked to me again, despite my apologies and attempts at explanation.
It didn’t sink in, then. I kept going my not-so-merry way. Life was hard. It always has been for me. I missed a lot of the bad experiences I hear about that others had, and I’m grateful. But that doesn’t mean it was easy or fun. I was desperately lonely, desperately broke, too ignorant to understand how I could go to college without money or family support, and doing a lot of dead-end jobs that provided no enjoyment or satisfaction. Those years were painful then, and I don’t like thinking about them now because they bring nothing but painful memories.
So advance forward 7 or 8 years. I’m in Salt Lake City, living not too far from the University of Utah. A neighbor had promised to pick me up for some activity. He was late. (Are you noticing a theme here?) I decided he wasn’t coming. Took my clothes back off. Cried. Got a pounding headache. Then I heard someone knocking at the door. I couldn’t answer the door–I wasn’t dressed fit to be seen, I looked like a wreck, and I had a raging headache. I just lay there and sobbed, pretending I wasn’t home. Bless his heart, he knocked for a good 5 minutes before he gave up and left. I felt like the biggest heel in the world. After I was sure he was gone, I got up and threw on some clothes and went to a pay phone and called my mother and stepfather and told them what had happened. They came over to see me, and my stepfather gave me a blessing. Somehow the realization that I thought of myself as completely worthless sunk in that time.
It took a long time and a lot of hard work to learn to realise that I am of worth because I am. God created me, and he created me just the way I am, imperfections and all. I have learned that it is my very imperfections that have created bonds between me and other people, people whom I truly love and admire. It is the imperfections and quirks that make me unique. I think if God had intended everyone on earth to be alike, he could have rolled out some human dough and used one cookie cutter, popped us all in the oven at one time, cooked us for the same length of time, and then we would all have been just the same.
Since he didn’t do that, I think it’s probably safe to assume that he loves us as we are. I don’t think that gives me a blanket excuse to not try to improve myself, but I can improve myself without losing my individuality.
Anyway, sorry to blather on for so long. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking since I read Chicory’s post yesterday. I remember that icy shock of realization, and then the days of stunned pondering that followed it. I’ve studied enough psychology to understand what led me to that way of thinking, and I do not see any benefit in delving back into it now. I’d rather press forward, with a perfect brightness of hope, with a love of God and of all men (and women!).