A little while ago I was speaking with a young lady. I am not entirely sure why but in the short time we had together this young woman began to share with me some of the struggles she had endured from a rough childhood. I had been asking a bunch of questions to open a dialogue. I had not known that she seemed to be overly thirsty for some positive interaction. I began to learn why once she started.
She had been taken away from her parents at a young age and put into the foster care system. More than a half-dozen homes in different cities and states had accepted her at one time or another. For some reason, she just never seemed to be able to stick with any one place. She was excited now since she was almost twenty and had just started a great job.
She shared with me the pride in her new vocation, but then there would be bitterness and resentment about a family dynamic which had left a scar. She had more than seven siblings, of various ages but mentioned she did not speak to any of them.
I asked her what she wanted to accomplish in her life now that she has this new job. She shared her dream was to buy her birth mother a house. This strong young woman had recently reconnected with her birth mother and now wanted to help provide her with all the things she had been unable to accomplish. Her Mother had also endured a tough life. The conversation shifted a little as she began to share some of her Mom’s struggles as well.
Sadly this is not the only young person whom I have met with similar challenging situations. A common trend I hear from most of them is while they go through the “system” to get assistance, they often become very resentful of the people who are there to help them.
If they share their stories with a counselor, then they hear “I know how you feel,” but they ask some very hard questions of the counselor.
“When we’re done with this session,” they’ll start, “you will go home to your family. Have a dinner of your choice. If you want a snack, you’ll just get one. If you have to use the bathroom, you just go. But what about me?”
“I go back to a bunch of other kids with problems. If I have to use the restroom, I have to ask for it. If I want a snack, it’s just too bad. My dinner is whatever they serve me whether I like it or not. I don’t even know where my family is right now. So how can you possibly understand how I feel?”
Some very tough questions, but honestly are they wrong to ask? Any of us would ask them too if we were in the same situation.
I was not sure what I could say to this young lady, or even if I should say anything at all. Maybe, just by listening I had already been able to provide something for her she desperately needed. Then a short story I wrote some time ago came to mind.
One day a Boy and his Father went on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon. While they stood at the scenic viewpoint, the boy looked at his father and said, “Dad, this place is just so massive. How can you help but feel small?” The Father chose not to answer at this time because he was not sure what to say.
Later that night, as they sat around their campfire, the Father looked up to the heavens. Thought for a moment and then without looking down he spoke. “Son,” he said, “how many stars do you think are up there in the sky?”
The young Boy looked up and answered, “I have no idea, Dad. Millions or even more.”
The Father kept looking up and continued, “It’s possible each one of them has their own set of planets circling them. The depths and scope of the universe is simply too big for anyone to grasp truly.” The two sat staring at the heavens for a few more moments. The roar of the fire sent the occasional crack and ember soaring into the sky before it would fizzle out and drift slowly back to the earth.
Then the Father looked at his son and placed his arm around his son’s shoulders. “God created every one of them Son,” he started. “He knows each of them by their name. He was there at their birth, he already knows when they will burn out, and he has never left any of them for a moment since creation.
“You,” the Father continued, “are one of God’s most precious creations. He loves you more than anyone or anything ever possibly could. I love you with all my heart son, but my love is insignificant in comparison to God’s. You see I love you so much I could never imagine losing you. God loves you so much He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the ultimate price just for the hope you’ll choose to love Him in return!”
The Father looked back to the heavens. “Son, if you try to compare yourself to the world you will always feel small. Don’t do that to yourself. To the greatest being there ever was, is, or will be you are important enough He died just to have the chance of a relationship with you.”
In my opinion, there is a very real and serious problem in our society today. Far too many people are continually seeking the approval of the world and are focused more on their self-image than they are their self-worth. Relationships are struggling as people strive to be valued from their partner only to find such an imperfect being is unequal to the task. Instead they should be standing confidently in the Love of the Lord, then sharing His grace, mercy, patience, and love. We have an entire culture based on snap judgment and anger towards others who do not fill our selfish want for happiness and comfort.
Resentment is running rampant, and it seems it is getting worse with the younger generations.
Is this a shock when we have a society where both parents are absent, wrapped up in work or just choosing to be distant as they selfishly go out and seek to improve their self-image? What does this teach our children? With the parents wrapped up in their own problems our children are forced to explore their worth from sources which are always wrong.
In some cases the parent’s selfishness can be so domineering the children even grow up thinking it is their purpose to solve the problems created by their parent. As was the case with the young lady I was speaking to, her goal at an early stage in life is to provide a life for the parent first. What life does that leave for her? If she had been trained properly how to prioritize life’s choices she would first stabilize herself. Then from a secure and stable lifestyle she would be far better suited to assist her mother.
It seems the children today, raised by parents with no sense of self-worth based on their importance to the God who created them get left with two options. The child must either sacrifice themselves to feed the selfishness of the parent; or they must abandon their parent completely out of a sense of self-preservation. Where is the value of a family being a group of independently functional, but collectively devotional people? If I’m able to function on my own, but capable of providing for others then I can do so. On the same token if the other members of my family are the same way then we all become able to rely on each other when times or tough, but never need to fear becoming an unhealthy burden to one another.
We need to return to teaching the only place you need to be worried about seeking your love and worth from is the unending source of Jesus Christ. We need to stop being afraid to remind people they are made in God’s own image, and God does not make mistakes. People need to begin to believe in themselves again, but if they do not know who they are, then how can they.
Matthew 16:15-16 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus is the Son of God and if we accept Him as our savior, then that makes us children of God through his sacrifice. If we are children of God, then it begs the question “Who is God?” Luckily, Moses once asked who God is too, and God answered him.
Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses “I AM THAT I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
What an answer. “I am that I am” meaning the very fact that He exists is His identity. The fact that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is, is because it was created to be so by our perfect God. That is “who” He is. The source, the creator, the giver of all things. So, next time you stop to think about whether or not you should feel good about yourself, you should remember you are a child of God and how important that makes you. God does not make mistakes. He intentionally paid the ultimate price to purchase your freedom. He purposefully made you the way you are. You are here for a reason, and that reason was never to seek some selfish worth from the emotional addiction of other people. Such a lifestyle leaves you feeling empty, and others feeling used.
Once we learn to be grounded in our value and self-worth, then we can start “loving” and feeling “loved” completely. We can truly “Live” life.