Saturday, January 9, 2016

Are You Worth It? You Decide Who Decides

November 14, 2013

I was blessed by the FICF "Renewing Gender Relations - Living Out the Fullness in Christ" National Conference. It was my honor to be one of the speakers. As the organizers prayed, the Lord has used this conference (the first of this kind) to bring enlightenment, encouragement, purpose, and even healing. May God receive all glory and honor!

It was wonderful to run into old friends and meet new people from all over the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Cambodia. There were males and females, OBCs, ABCs and Caucasians. Being tri-lingual, I wished I could be in multiple rooms at the same time to hear different speakers.

After the closing ceremony, I stayed with other woman ministers for a special time with Rev. & Mrs. Maak 
(Mai XiZhen in ping yin).  Mrs. Maak shared her wisdom and experience and encouraged us -- Mandarin speaking woman ministers/pastors, seminarians, and pastor's wives. I was inspired by their life stories as a couple who are still serving the Lord together in their old age. The Lord has blessed them and they are sharing their blessings.

Growing up in a family where my grandmother disapproved of my mom and me, I was freed from bondage with the Truth in God's Word, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

If you know someone who keeps on thinking he or she is unworthy, please forward this feature article, Are You Worth It? You Decide Who Decides. 

A few days ago, I received a heart warming e-mail from my daughter-in-law. "This weekend when her Baba was gone, EC really missed you. She said, 'I really really really (+5 more) miss NaiNai.' Thought you should know!

"Not only did that message make my day, I am still telling you about it.

Ironically, there were times in my life when I thought nobody would miss me (even if I died), but something changed all that in 1989. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As comedienne Lucille Ball quipped: "You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." Part of that self-love is feeling that you're "worth it" -- that you are good enough, and that you deserve respect, kindness, and satisfaction with your life. Although this seems simple enough, unworthiness is more common in our culture than we might expect.

Simply put, "worthiness" is a person's judgment of their own value, merit, or usefulness. It stems from our deep human need to be known and seen for who we really are and what we have to give. It's the kind of sentiment expressed in the words of author and poet Maya Angelou: "I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty good." Inherent in this statement is that the self is the judge of her own worthiness. But the Bible clearly states that God is the judge of everyone's worthiness.

The danger of being one's own judge of worthiness is that one could easily be deluded into unworthiness which is often a self-fulfilling downward spiral, where a person believes she isn't helpful, useful, or good. Someone who believes that he's worthless may also set out to prove his worthlessness through a series of poor choices.

How to Recognize Unworthiness
Many people who have issues with unworthiness tend to internalize and overly-personalize situations. If something goes wrong, they're at fault. Of course he yelled at me, the thinking goes,I burned the fried rice. Or, I'll never get that pay raise, so why would I bother even asking?

Unworthiness tends to involve repetitive, unhelpful self-talk that's dominated by what has been called "the Judge" or one's "inner critic." Remember what happened last time? this voice warns.You made a fool of yourself.

But for every instance where unworthiness manifests as a habit of underachieving at work or the avoidance of healthy risk-taking in relationships, there are just as many instances where unworthiness is so embedded that a person isn't even aware that it's at the root of their choices.

For instance, a person may find herself in a series of abusive relationships or with an addiction. Such issues often act as masks, covering up a core feeling of unworthiness. In order to successfully address the issue, the unworthiness needs to be addressed also.

Equally dangerous as being your own judge of worthiness is to be your own rescuer. God has rescued His sons and daughters from unworthiness through the redemptive act of His son Jesus Christ. By having Jesus die for us, God is saying, "You are worth a son to me!"

In a way, God has purchased us by the life of His Son Jesus Christ. This redeemed life is a brand new life distinct from our unworthy old life. Even though this is an accomplished fact, many believers still think that they have to rescue themselves.

The "Quest for Dignity"
It's been said that all of life is a quest for dignity. And as you continue on your own quest, here are three starting points for developing a stronger sense of worth:

1. Look at your patterns. Identify when you judge and condemn yourself.
Overcoming unworthiness asks us to become more reflective and self-aware. This isn't always easy -- especially when your inner critic has a stronghold on the way you talk with yourself. It would rather you continue obeying it, rather than learn to listen to kinder and more nurturing parts of yourself. In the face of your inner critic's resistance, be brave. Examine the choices you've made in the past, and notice what they share in common. If things always seem to go well, right until the moment you mess it up, there may be a deeper belief of unworthiness that's overtaken your healthy sense of perspective. Deep down, do you believe you actually deserve success? Do you believe Jesus Christ already die for you?

2. Zoom out.
Take a moment -- and a deep breath -- and consider the external factors that lead you to doubt your own goodness and worth. Was a parent or other authority figure critical of you? Sometimes the loudest inner critic isn't our voice, but one that we've internalized and adopted as our own. Look at it from God's perspective. Who is the actual you? The new life that God has created in you by uniting your spirit with Christ's spirit? Or your behavior?

3. Make a decision.
You have the power to choose which beliefs are in your life, and which are not welcome. Once you accept and internalize a belief, it's harder to uproot it from your subconscious mind. So cultivate awareness of the beliefs and judgments in your life, and get in the habit of deciding whether or not each one deserves a place in your mind.

To aid you in that, try this Gatekeeper Exercise: the next time someone tells you or you tell yourself: You're not [articulate/confident/attractive] enough or you'll never [start your own company/find a loving relationship/lose 60 pounds], take it as an invitation to pause, take a deep breath, and decide whether to "accept, reject or reflect" upon it. With practice, you may be surprised how many beliefs and judgments come your way that you no longer automatically accept as your own...and how the simple act of gatekeeping helps to protect and build your sense of value and self-worth.

I love doing "Praise Exercises" with Wu MeiYun on Youtube. By establishing a routine, I somehow memorize the action steps -- with the songs running in my head -- that's internalizing. While overcoming unworthiness is a process that takes time and effort, the payoff is nothing short of life-changing.
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

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