Deserve and Worth are different words

January 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm 2 comments

My campus has been quiet today.

Not in the horrified, desperate, confused and grief-stricken way we were in November, when details of the Sandusky scandal first came to our attention. That was absolutely awful.

Today, we are just sad. Our football coach, Joe Paterno, passed away, and we are mourning a man who helped to shape our university (not just the football program) into what it is today, a man who was small in stature but larger-than-life, and who somehow touched many of our lives.

We are praying, for his family and our community and each other. We are still confused about the scandal, but fighting also to remind the world of the good that he has done in his sixty-plus years here.

It’s perhaps hard to understand, from the outside. As Dana wrote so beautifully, we cannot ask others to quite understand how we have fallen in love with a place, and how much JoePa was a part of that place.

Whatever else people may say, they can’t deny that he has had an impact on millions of people. From our perspective, his life was important and significant. He didn’t waste it. In many ways, he made our little world a better place.

Maybe I’m the only one, but this has also reminded me how desperately I want my life to count.

Perhaps the deepest desire of my heart is to matter.

Somehow. To someone.

To know that what I do, who I am makes a difference.

But I’m having a hard time believing it. I know the Bible verses – and I’m quite good at believing it for others. I know that they matter, and their life makes a difference, and they are in this world for a purpose that only they can fulfill.

But me?

I know me better. I’m not good enough for that.

Maybe I can fool others into thinking I am. (Hello, perfectionism.) But somewhere, deep down, I know that what really matters is what God says about me. And I’m desperately afraid that He won’t think I matter – or that He won’t think of me at all.

On paper, in black and white, it looks silly. Sacrilegious, even. I mean, I know better.

But I’m telling you a secret: sometimes, I really struggle with this one.

I love the way Angie Smith writes about this fear in her book What Women Fear:

“At the heart of the issue is the feeling that we could never be significant enough to benefit from the thorns that cut into His skin and the suffering He experienced as the sky grew dark on a hill in Calvary. Why? Because I have never done anything to deserve a love like that.

And do you know what He says in response? You have never been so right in your life, child.

My view of significance relies on performance reports and my children’s behavior. It is dependant on where I fall on the totem pole of achievement and financial success. It is bound to convince me that I’m not worth it.

And do you know what He says to that? Now that is where I draw the line.”

I’m beginning to wrap my head around that.

The nagging feeling in my soul that I don’t and can’t deserve this (and am therefore helpless about it) is exactly, terrifyingly right.

I don’t. I can’t. Ever. A sinner does not deserve significance, but death. She does not deserve to be noticed and ransomed and loved by a holy God. And nothing she ever does can change that fact.

And therefore, I am not worth it. I’m worthless, except to the extent that I can fool other people into noticing me, thinking I’m significant and worth something.

Sounds extreme – but those are the lies that have been swirling in my head. And last night, I realized how brilliantly untrue that logic is.

Deserve is not the same thing as worth.  The one doesn’t follow the other.

No, I don’t deserve this love. I don’t deserve the promise in Ephesians, that God knows me intimately and loves me and has already created good deeds for me to do.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not worth it.

Because Christ considered me (and you) so worth it that he died to redeem us. We are new creations – and we live in His righteousness.

God says I’m worth it.

And mercifully, His word is more important and true than mine could ever be.

And the best part? (And the part that this perfectionist struggles with?) If I didn’t do anything to deserve it, than I can’t continue to do anything to keep that love.

It’s not about me doing anything.

He has simply called me His. And declared me worthwhile. And nothing I do, or don’t do, can change that. Nothing anyone says can change that.

It’s called grace.

I will likely never impact a community or a world. I will probably never feel that I’ve done something truly great and significant and lasting.

But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because God has already said that I matter.

Remind me of that the next time I forget, will you?


Entry filed under: faith, words.

more on remembering Five-Minute Friday

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joanna  |  January 23, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Thank you. Just what I needed. And so true, too.

  • 2. Katie D  |  January 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I will 🙂

    Beautiful and well-written, dear!


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