Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Much Am I Worth?

I had a very interesting conversation with one of my very good friends recently. We were eating in a restaurant when he noticed that some girls were staring at us. He, being much humbler than I, didn't make much of the situation until we were talking afterwards in my car. He commented on the fact that the girls looking at him had made him feel bad. I was on the verge of questioning his mental health when he expanded his thoughts. His reasoning was as follows: he felt that he had wanted their attention too much. That his need for attention in that manner was unhealthy. These words took me by complete surprise. My friend is in a very healthy dating relationship, he is a secure individual, and I look up to him, so the fact that he admitted to wanting attention from girls was strange to me. I thought a lot about his words as I went home and even as I considered my next topic for this blog. All of his views and thoughts boiled down to this for me: there are things that we all seek to construct our self-worth upon.

What all in this life do we turn to in order to boost our self-confidence? Our appearance and how others perceive us, how many friends we have, our number of followers on Twitter; it comes down to this I think: people create products out of their life, and attempt to have the most consumers. That sounds incredibly trite and pedantic if taken off-handedly, but give me a chance to explain myself. As humans, we desire to have people want us; want our talents, our passions, what we have to offer to the world. We want people to look at us and wish that they could be more like us. And more than that, we want others to look at us and accept us. We want to feel like what we are offering is good enough for people around us. Maybe in appearance or attitude or drive. To be completely honest, I wish more people read this blog, and that more people would share it with their friends. I wish that I had the opportunity to share these words with more hungry eyes, and that people desired to be more like me. At the heart of that argument is purity and truth. Wanting to share what is most important and sacred to us is very noble, but when we begin to gauge our opinion of ourselves based on how well people respond to that sharing, we flirt with disaster. Let's say that this blog tanks after a few weeks. People become disinterested in what I have to say, and absolutely no one reads it. Does that mean that my self-worth should parallel the success of the blog? If I walk into a store and a very attractive girl catches my eyes and immediately turns away in disgust, should my view of myself plummet accordingly?  I don't think it should.

As I dug into my own life and image that I carry of myself, I came to some startling realizations. I lean far too heavily on material and interpersonal interaction to be the foundation for my self-worth. Those girls looking at us in the restaurant didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all. In fact, they made me feel good. I felt better about myself because some random girls apparently found that my friend and I were worth glancing at. Deep down I think I expected her to look at us. That was nothing more than pride, but underlying the pride was a true desire to be wanted by total strangers. I toe a very thin, dangerous line when the status of my self-esteem is dependent on factors over which I have very little control. I can dress nice or fix my hair in a cool, trendy way, but at the end of the day, I cannot make anyone like me any more. I can't make more people read this blog. I can't make myself any more attractive. All I can do is promote those products tirelessly. Some days I might win the battle, but is it worth the days that I come up short? Is it worth feeling like a failure until someone else comes along and give me a brief moment of recognition? That question has been throwing hammers at the walls of my mind ever since the conversation with my friend.

In essence, placing your worth in things that you cannot control is letting someone else control your life. This is an area that I struggle with to be honest. At times, we all fall victim to selling the products of our life more than we should. If only we could step back and see that we are worth so much more than how we look and how many friends we have. Those things do not define us in the least. We were breathed into creation by a God who handcrafted a plan for each of us. Whether you believe in God or not, I think you are special. Whether you can look deep within yourself and see innate beauty or not does not change the fact that it is there. I hurt for people who define themselves based on how others view them. Largely because it has been such an obstacle in my own life, but also because I can see those people who are already great but refuse to acknowledge it themselves. Maybe this is nothing more than a ranty, low self-esteem pity party blog to you. I don't totally disagree, but for anyone who connects with longing for someone else's approval to fuel your approval of yourself, hear this: you are worth infinitely more than anything that we can define in human terms. You are worth the life of God's son. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That is perhaps the most known bible verse of all time, and maybe rightfully so. The gravity of that statement keeps me awake at night even still. Each one of us is worth so much that God let his perfect, flawless son be beaten and killed so that one day we will have the opportunity to spend all of eternity in his presence.

My friend had it right that day. The number of followers we have on Twitter is insignificant. Girls looking at me will have no real impact on my life. Our worth and hope comes from a source that cannot adequately be described. This is a battle we fight every day, and I pray you have the strength to see yourself as God sees you: beautiful.

(Note: I deeply appreciate you all checking out my blog. I do not derive my worth from this, but you can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand #hypocrite.)

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