A week ago I pulled into a handicapped parking spot with my son. I hung my handicap plaque on the rear view mirror and caught the eye of a middle aged woman. She was giving me the kind of stank eye that could burn the hair off a skunk. As she glared, she shook her head disapprovingly. She said something I couldn’t make out, as she elbowed the elderly woman walking alongside her. Now both of them turned to stare at Alex and I. I knew exactly why. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I look young, I look like I can walk, and I’m in a handicapped spot. Alex looked at me and kind of laughed. He said, “Mom, they weren’t happy you parked here.” I nodded, “Yeah, I know. They don’t know I’ve had lots of surgeries.” I tried to blow it off. “Oh well. It happens all the time.” I tried to comfort my son, but the situation stung.
Part of me fought the desire to approach those women in the parking lot. I wanted to lift up the back of my shirt to reveal my 8 inch spine surgery scar, and ask them if they felt this were enough to validate my handicap parking plaque; or did they need to see the 20 other surgical scars? I know this is years of frustration and hurt talking. That’s precisely the reason I stayed in my car; but sometimes I would really like to educate people on the error of their quick judgements. It’s incredibly frustrating to be too injured to be normal, but appear too normal to be this injured. It leaves me wondering if the general public would be more forgiving if I got out of my car with a pronounced limp or missing some limbs. I’m continually trying to train myself to remember the opinion that God has of me, is truly the only one that matters. It’s okay if others don’t always understand. It’s even okay if they judge me unfairly.
A weakness that plagues me, is my inability to be indifferent to the unfair judgements of others. I’ve significantly improved throughout my life, but I find this insecurity still resurfaces from time to time. I accept the rejection of those who do so based on accurate information. Somehow that rejection seems fair and their own personal right. The judgements I have a hard time accepting are the instances when I’ve been rejected based on inaccurate information. I feel a bit obstinate about it. If you are gonna dislike me, let’s at least let it be for valid reason. I mean…I talk with my mouth full sometimes, I can be a nag, I am a blue ribbon best-in-show clutz. I am sure there are plenty of authentic reasons for you to be annoyed by me. Feel free to choose a bona fide one.
In spite of my dislike of unfair judgement, I feel secure in the person I am. I’m not talking about self-esteem. I am talking about what I believe, what is important to me, and what makes me tick. These things dictate my conduct, my thought process, and my goals. These things are me. These things are what I will be judged for at the end of my life. Unfortunately, in today’s society a lot of emphasis is put into self-esteem. Ladies and Gentlemen…self-esteem is fleeting. It’s a non-sustainable resource. It’s like trying to keep a candy dish stocked in a house of three teenagers. Non-sustainable. It’s based on confidence in our own abilities. I don’t know about you, but confidence in my own abilities waxes and wanes depending on the situations I face. The more I fight to build my own self-esteem up, the more I lose any grip I may have had on it.
Self-esteem comes from a feeling of worth that somehow I have to generate myself. If there is one thing I’m consistently finding, it’s that this world will tell you that our worth is very little. It would appear that it hinges wholly upon our contribution to society. The fallacy of that, is that society’s approval has always been as firm a foundation as pudding. The value of my contribution to society is viewed differently by each person. For instance, those who agree with my actions will love me and think I’m great, but those who do not share my same values may absolutely detest me and all that I stand for. There will never be a side you can take morally, politically, or spiritually where you will not experience some degree of rejection. We will be mistreated, misjudged, persecuted, and hated no matter what route we choose.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When I paint for hours, and sometimes days, I put forth hard effort, strain, and precision into a work of art I feel like that creation is priceless. I understand its true value because I am the one who created it. Our worth is truly only comprehended by the One who created us, and He thought we were worth dying for. Our worth has already been decided. There is one place and one place alone, where our worth is consistent and fully appreciated; that place is in the heart of God. The heart of God was the first place each of us was conceived.
Attaining solidly positive self-esteem is an endeavor akin to hunting a Yeti. Yetis probably don’t exist, but if you find one, you’d better snap a clear photo, because it’ll be hard to prove when the naysayers appear. The Yeti of self-esteem vanishes as soon as it’s truly challenged, but God-given worth cannot be removed. God has determined that we have value that this world can’t take away. The only factor that can ever detract from our worth is to willfully and unrepentantly walk contrary to righteousness. We were bought with a price. God doesn’t send His most precious Son and spill His blood for something He views less than of utmost importance.
Jesus came from the humblest beginnings. Very few could comprehend His worth, His significance, or His burdens. He was perfect and He was still hated. If a perfect man can be hated, how can I, as an imperfect woman, expect better? He was not only misjudged, He was convicted wrongly of crimes He never committed, and He was murdered, though He was innocent. He wasn’t concerned about His self-esteem. He was concerned with our worth and His Father’s will. He glorified His Father and pointed to Him. He was about his Father’s business. He was truly His Father’s child.
I fail so often, and yet my goal is to be about my Father’s business. It’s an honor to be His child. I have no need to validate myself. My worth has already been determined and established by God. I can release unfair judgements knowing they have no eternal hold on me. They cannot separate me from the love of Christ Jesus. I am a daughter of the King. I am my Father’s child.