The current thing that my doctor is insisting I work on is finding it within myself to believe that I am worth loving. By myself, by others, even by God. It seems to be a simple task, right? Not too much to ask of someone. The fact that faith and religion has been a huge part of my life for as long as I have been able to remember should even make it an easy thing to do. Correct? After all, what kind of Christian doesn’t have faith that at the very least God loves them. It is the explanation of religion in its most basic of forms, “God loves you!”.
Yet for me, there is a deep sense of guilt and shame I am feeling right now, the hypocrisy of myself. Admitting to myself, to others, that for the 32 years that I have been raised in faith, and made it my own, I have never once felt that God could love me. Others, yes! Me? No! I am too worthless, too broken, too sinful, too unlovable. I do not feel that God wants me, yet I share my faith with others because I am so convinced that God can indeed love them, to forgive them for their sins, to help them to endure their trials, to bless them with a hope for a joyous life beyond what the world of today can offer them. Deep in my heart there is nothing that shakes my faith in the love of God for other people.
There is an illustration in the Gospels of the Bible that talks about sparrows, they were regarded by the people of the day as being of the most little of value, in fact, they were almost worthless. Jesus was telling those he was speaking to that not even a sparrow drops to the ground without his Heavenly Father seeing it. And that as humans, we are more valuable than even many sparrows to God. It is to show that a life, any life, but especially that of a human, is valuable to God, that He cherishes it. No matter who we are, we are worthwhile.
I do not feel as though I am valuable thought, and when I think of the future, I struggle to place myself in it, it is easy to imagine a world where I am not there. While many people fear being replaced or forgotten, one of my wishes is that I could be, because then there would be no obligation for me to exist anymore, no one would sad because instead of having died, I would simply not have ever existed. A world without me would not be better or worse off, it would just be.
There have been very few people that I can truly say I have felt loved unconditionally by. And I sadly admit that there is even a fear that I try to hide deep down that my husband, a man who has stood faithfully and tirelessly by my side for more than 15 years through all the hard times, will one day realise that I am not worth it. That even he will wake up one day and see me how I see myself and leave. He has never for one second given me the impression that he will stop loving me, in fact he tells me multiple times each and every day that he loves me and cherishes me, but I can not believe that I deserve his enduring love. In fact there are even times that I feel guilt that I have him to love me, because there are other women out there that deserved to have a man like him fall in love with them more than I ever did.
Flawed. I have made terrible mistakes that lead to horrible consequences. I’ve hidden sickening secrets for the greater part of my life. I feel lost and broken, and I don’t know how it is possible that anyone in this world or even (especially) in heaven could look through my thoughts and feelings and still love me. It seems impossible to ask, impossible to believe in, selfish to expect or to hope for.
The Psalms are full of heart wrenching poems about feelings of lowliness, guilt, and worthlessness, depression, emotional pain, distress, and self loathing, tempered with assurances that God loves us no matter what we have done if we are determined to repent, that he loves us no matter what has happened to us, appreciating even more the faith of those that love him despite extra trials they endure, all he wants is to be able to find even just a small bit of good within us.
I am a good person. I can say that with assurance, because I know it is true. I have a gift of empathy and compassion, the emotions of others are deeply interesting to me, helping and healing them is something that is of the deepest importance. There is one thing I know for sure, I am determined to make others lives as good as I can. I have an ability to love even those who have hurt me or let me down is something that makes me feel both blessed and cursed at the same time. There is not even anger or hatred towards those who have hurt me physically in the past, I can not hold a grudge because I do not know what happened to them to make them like they were. Maybe they are just bad people, or maybe bad events turned them that way? I forgive them for their actions to me.
How do I apply this forgiving spirit to myself? I don’t. I can’t. It feels selfish to say that because I am “good”, I am worthy of love. I am good because I don’t ever want anyone to feel like I have, like I do, people need someone to care for them unconditionally, they deserve to be loved for who they are. But in saying that I am a good person, I assign that to the logic of my actions. I try my best to behave in a good manner towards others. But I do not feel that my soul is good, I can not believe that my worth extends beyond what I can do to try and make the world a better place for others.
And while I know that the Bible assures us time and time again that God loves each of us, I question how can God love someone who has no thanks for her life? Who even at times feels ashamed or resentful of her “gifts” of love and compassion? Who has battled with suicidal thoughts since she was 12? Someone who has tried to take her life? Who has self harmed, held a blade to her wrists, and burned her body, showing so little respect for the gift of being a living soul? How can He love someone who tells him that she doesn’t believe He loves her? How could even He forgive the things I have done wrong, the secrets I have kept that maybe have caused endless pain to others?
As for my dear husband and the very few that I have let my walls down around, I feel a huge sense of guilt for how I feel. There is something that is deeply painful about telling someone you love them, and having them reject that. I can not count the times I tried to assure my family that I loved them, especially when they were angry at me, only to be told that I did not. The painfulness of how that feels, to be rejected, is here years, and months after those times. Many of those times the rejection was used as a weapon, but I need to explain that this is not the same.
To those people, I wish I could tell them that “when someone who feels unlovable tells you that you can’t love them, please don’t feel that they don’t believe in you, it is themselves that they can not believe in. Personally, I feel that no one as beautiful as you could possibly love someone as tainted as me, I do not feel worthy of your love, I want for you to save it for someone who deserves it, and that person is not me. I believe that you love me, but I am convinced that you only love me because I have some how tricked you into seeing something worthwhile, because there is no way that you could love the person I know I am.”.
I don’t really know where I am going right now, or how I am going to work on feeling worthy of being loved. Reflecting on how I personally feel when my children “You don’t love me”, maybe gives a little insight into how God himself feels when I am unwilling to believe that His love is greater than my own heart’s lowliness. The Bible itself even says to us to remember that “God’s love is greater than our hearts which condemn us” in 1 John, but my heart condemns me with such insistence that it feels unlikely to ever be silenced enough to believe anything else.
If someone else was telling me this, that these rambling emotions above were their thoughts and feelings, I would be heartbroken for them. I am heartbroken for myself in some ways, but I am so scared of trying to mend this, I am terrified of becoming selfish or feeling worthy. I am so frightened by the thought that I could become self centered and hedonistic, thinking of myself more than others, expecting more than I deserve.
So can God love me? Am I worthy of being loved by Him, or even by others? That is what I need to try and figure out. But until I learn to love myself, just a little, there is probably no hope that I will ever believe truly that anyone can truly love me.