Best-selling author, mother, and Sunday school teacher, Anne Lamott, in her book Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, speaks about how we often see ourselves. Oftentimes we human folk see only our brokenness, our shortcomings, our addictions, our hurts, and pain as the sum of ourselves. Oftentimes times as young people, our environment and experiences teach us that we have no intrinsic value within us. Such messages lead young people to question their worthiness. One example is that for many (most?), our bodies do not conform to what the culture tells us they should be. We just don’t meet the standard. The implication is clear: you don’t measure up. (This kind of thinking isn’t limited to young people.) And the problem with such a message is that one then assumes she can earn value by trying to please others and achieving success (as society measures success).
But of course, it is impossible to find value in ourselves when we believe and seek our value through the eyes of society.
Anne Lamott’s message is that we have intrinsic value, value from within, in our very essence, our being.
From her book, Lamott shares the following:
I heard something a few years ago that would have completely changed my life had I learned it as a child. It was at my church, where I was teaching my Sunday school class of two teenage boys, both with rough skin, on slightly younger boy, and a little girl with elaborate and charming buckteeth, too young for braces. That day I was teaching my one good message, that we are loved and chosen as is, fearfully and wonderfully made, with love and awe, perfect and fragile. We are loved as sparrows, and all sparrows are sweet. No one thinks, “That sparrow is kind of a loser, and boy, is that one letting herself go.”
I know that all teenagers believe they are intrinsically defective, so that was why I brought up sparrows and friends. I asked the class if any of their best friends had acne, glasses, or problems at home, and if that made them love their friends less. Of course not. I asked them to say, “I have value,” and both teenagers did so with mortification. The younger boy, not yet destroyed by hormones and society, said it calmly as if announcing he had ears.
I turned to the little girl, expectantly. She said, “I has value!”
I asked her to say it again, “I has value.”
I has value. I wanted to get that tattooed on my forearm.
We indeed have value – you and me. In God’s eyes, we have value. And if we have value in God’s eyes, we need to look with the eyes of God to discover that which God sees in ourselves. And once we discover, or rediscover, or are reminded of our value, we are freed to learn to see the value in each other.
Thank you, Lord, for forming us as we have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Amen.