Friday, January 29, 2010

For What I'm Worth

It probably comes as little surprise to those who know me best that one of my greatest struggles is my worth. Though my circumstances may be unique, I know I am not alone in this struggle.

It is the voices of the world vs. the voices of the Lord in a battle to become the voice that I talk to myself with in the middle of the night. It is the discrepancy between beginnings. What does that mean?

Have you ever worked on a project - baking a new recipe, perhaps - and about halfway through, you realize there's a better way? Easier, quicker, more delicious...simply better. You make a mental note to do it that way next time then look down at a half-mixed batter that no longer holds your interest. You keep working with it because you are invested, even though in the back of your mind, you can't wait to try again. That is where I am at - stuck between a beginning that began nearly 25 years ago and the one God is calling me to, a different and better way.

It's hard to just throw away everything that once was, even though I know it failed. Those patterns, those mechanisms, they brought me to this point. They were not the best ways of relating the world - not the gentlest, humblest, kindest, most honest ways - but they were all I had to go with. Now, I have something greater - the peace of God in my heart and unwavering faith and confidence in His ways.

So why can't I just do it?

Because it requires sacrificing a lot. Giving up the past for the future, even in the present. How can someone live without a past? (This is a question I've pondered more than once.) It is only the contrast of Godlessness that makes righteousness stand out. Part of the beauty of God is how strikingly different His life is, that beautiful gift He offers.

It also requires trust. This is where it gets tricky for me. Do I believe that God is God and I am not? Yes. Do I believe He is Who He says He is? Absolutely. Do I believe in salvation, redemption, an eternal home with Him? You betcha. Forgiveness? Of course! But I struggle to believe a single word He says about me.

He tells me I am beautiful. He tells me I am His. He tells me that He loves me, labors for me, has created this world for me. He promises to listen, to understand, to answer. He shows me His might, power, and tender care.

Yet His is not the loudest voice in my heart. The voice in my heart has a much different message - a message that says I am broken, dirty, troublesome, despised, worthless, and a waste.

Some of those messages have always been there; some are new as I come to know God more. How is it that the world gets louder when God enters in?

I know a few of my gifts. In those brief moments I can close my eyes and block out the noise of this world, I see clearly what God has put into me. A gift for communicating - writing, music, drama. A gift for relationship - listening, strengthening, serving. A gift for humility - walking softly and knowing that He grounds me. There are probably many more I've yet to discover.

Even so, I sit, having little to do and little impact on the world. The world rejects me; it does not want my gifts. Friends reject me; they do not want my trouble. I have no place to use my gifts, no area to powerfully serve, no way of showing God through me, though my heart cries out for the place to do so. There must be an Aidan-shaped hole in this universe somewhere!

It is as I reflect and realize how God goes wasted in my life that the voices of the world get stronger. What a retched waste I am! Sitting here doing nothing! I always knew I didn't have the guts.

This is where the battle of worth begins - in the discrpancy of beginnings. As God works on my heart, I am stuck between a Rock and a hard place. (Oh c'mon - Christ is the Rock; my heart is the hard place.) To give up on the past and step into God's present is to sacrifice a lot. Yet I am truly, completely worthless from my first beginning. In this new life, this new heart, this new heavenly Relationship, there is no space for what I once was. There is no way to move forward while tied to the past. And in the present God is calling me to, I am still worthless, useless - because I have not reached that point yet. I have not stepped forward and accepted His call, His gift, His honor. So it does me no good to feel Him, to know Him, to seek and answer Him.

Worthless in the new heart because I'm bound to the old. Worthless in the old because I am called to the new.

Completely, utterly worthless.

So here I am. God is calling me forward in faith, risk, and trust. I'm holding to the past for...for what? For the depths of fear. It is not the fear of failure, for if God is God (and I know that He is), then He's made no provision for my failure. What He calls me to, He will strengthen me as I endeavor to follow.

The fear is that He is right. That I could be beautiful, valued, loved, served, honored. To be completely honest, those are words that never in my wildest dreams have I been able to fathom. What would it be like to embrace those things? To listen to my Father and truly accept His message?

Not long ago, this would not even have been my question. When the voices battled for the territory of my heart, I'd look up to Heaven and tell God He was obviously wrong about me, that He didn't know what the world knew, that He had been smoking His own pipe dream. In the spirit of discontent, restlessness, and the yearning of my heart, I now turn to Him. I turn to God to silence the voices, to replace their words with His own...and I invite Him to show me evidence to the contrary. To show me the Aidan-shaped hole in the universe, reveal how He will use me, grant me the opportunities to step out in faith and passion. And so much more.

It's still scary. He introduces me, little by little, to a world I do not know. It's a world vastly different from the one I grew up in, the one that threw me into the cold and forced me to fend for myself. It's hard to give up fighting and arguing and "surviving" for peace, love, and thriving. It makes no sense - either to my head or to my heart. What's a girl to do when she doesn't have to fight any more? I just can't fathom it.

Yet He asks me to. He's been asking, and He'll keep asking until I figure out how to let go. He reminds me of everything He says about me, and I know He longs to show me His truth. That what He says is what is, that it's more than just a pipe dream.

I just don't know. It humbles and scares me to think He even cares. But I can't help but wonder...what I'm worth.

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