What I have to share rests on one focal point: you have incalculable value and there is nothing you (or anyone else) can do about it.
YOU can neither enhance nor diminish the value you possess. I think everyone is well aware of what the latter means, but the former requires great care and explanation. By enhancement, I mean you cannot dress up your value; you cannot paint it, consume it, drive it, sleep with it, twerk it, spend it, barter with it, wear it, travel to it, live in it, graduate with it, procreate it, or marry it. Any attempts you make to enhance your value by stockpiling things, people or experiences will be futile. Rather, your obsession to enhance the perception of your value may cost you the very thing you’re so desperately seeking.
Ok, so maybe you’re not obsessed, but by and large our culture has somehow equated social status with value, and we’ve been inculcated with the idea that boosting the perception of our economic/mental/emotional status will actually increase our inherent value—“If I can convince people (including myself) to think I am good, then I must be good.” We begin as children, competing to be the first or the best at as much as we can to elevate ourselves to peers. And if we cannot compete, we often demean others to at least distinguish ourselves from people we perceive as having a lesser social status. This behavior often follows us to adulthood—though our methodology may mature, our never-ending quest to reach a perceived pinnacle of social prominence is at the heart of many of the choices we make, even those that are to our detriment.
The Pleasure Principle
Think about the last bad decision you made. I mean a really, really bad decision, one where you knew to do better but somehow just couldn’t. We will take a moment to pause so you can think of a good one—chances are, the bad decision you made is related to the psychoanalytic idea of the Pleasure Principle.
Put succinctly, (and by no means am I a psychologist) the pleasure principle is the idea that our subconscious selves, our fleshly, natural selves, instinctively seek pleasure to immediately satisfy our needs and wants, regardless of the outcome. In the scope of how we see our value, we find pleasure in knowing we fit in, we belong, that we measure up to our peers.
For many, especially my beloved Millennial generation, this is commonly achieved through attending colleges we could not afford to get jobs that do not pay enough to cover the debt we accumulated to attend them. We buy fancy cars with high notes and rack up debt to build our credit score, to buy homes we cannot afford. We do these pleasurable things, to give the impression that the jobs we took afford us the lifestyle we think we deserve, even when they don’t. It is so much more pleasurable to give the appearance that we are well off than to do the work to make sure we actually are.
We use the great platform of social media to showcase a hyperbolic version of our lives, and we bear witness to everyone else’s attempts to do the same. We’re trying to buy our way into proving to ourselves and to others we have value.
Now maybe I did not paint a perfect picture identifying a particular distortion of how you (mis)value yourself, but take a moment to pause and identify your own. Maybe you do not have one and this is not your problem at all, but since you have started reading this article, perhaps it is your duty to pass along to someone else. Whatever the case may be, if you do have trouble seeing your true value or seeing the value of others, much of what we uncover will be extremely difficult to grasp. That is why it is so important that I address this before we ever begin talking about financial restoration. If you do not understand that your value is absolute—meaning nothing will increase or decrease it, is equal to everyone else’s, (no one is more or less valuable than the other) and comes from God and God alone—then asking you to regulate the tool by which you measure your value will be ineffective, and rather uncomfortable, for everyone involved.
Like many of you, I assessed my value based on governing social standards. When I stacked the sum total of my choices against the scale I thought accurately measured my value, I came up short. A strong leader, my pastor, challenged my way of thinking. In short, he made answer a very difficult question…if I believe God to be perfect, how could I give anybody the authority to value me, if I am the Infalliable’s beloved creation? It took some time, but I came to believe that regardless of how others (or even I) viewed myself, God saw value in me. And even though I knew it to be true, I could not understand why I didn’t feel that value deep within. Soon after I posed the question to God (ie I prayed) I was presented with the opportunity to get mental health counseling, which led me to view myself in a much different light. When I understood my own value, it became so much easier to act in a manner that reflected it, which started me on the road of mental, and eventually financial, restoration.
The more you trust that your life wasn’t some coincidence, that there is a whole blueprint lined up for you, and God created it, and if you trust that it’s the best plan available, doors will began to open up to take you on a journey to live your God-purposed life. The life that your spirit is so desperately trying to live out, despite the opposition from your flesh and the distorted ways of thinking you may have picked up along your path.
This journey has not been easy, and I have to remind myself daily that God has a plan much greater than mine. To keep myself focused, I often repeat these words:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
There is a plan for my life. God knows it, because He created it.
If I spend quality time with God, He will put the plan in my heart.
If I acknowledge that it is His plan, He will straighten the path set before me.
It will be because of Him that regardless of any circumstance I may encounter, I can do the
things my heart desires.