12: Ultimate Selfie Purpose 2: Who We’re With

“I’m from the other side of the tracks.”

“I’m from a poor family.”

“I don’t even know who my father is.”

“I was an accident.”

These are lies that we are often told that make us feel unwanted, unworthy, or devalued.

A couple of young ladies that I know had been told similar lies. One of them was left as a newborn in a dirty clothes hamper. Someone eventually found her, nurtured her, and adopted her. The struggle to find her worth, however, was quite a journey, but she has made it. She was no accident. In fact, God so wanted her that He put two people together for a brief time—just long enough for her to be conceived. That tells me and her that she was not unplanned, but especially given life though unusual, though heart-breaking, circumstances.

The other young lady was born while her parents were in prison. She was put into foster care. Then the state eventually put her and her sister in a relative’s home where they were abused physically and emotionally. This, in her words, had given her “a tainted view of what love really was.” She grew up thinking that the beatings she got were to make her a better person—to teach her not to do bad things anymore. This young lady, too, now sees that her circumstances were ordained by God from her conception. She was adopted into a loving and caring family and she is a remarkable person.

Perhaps you remember the story that begins in Genesis 37. It’s about a man named Jacob, later renamed Israel. Jacob had twelve sons, and at least one daughter that we know of. Jacob’s next-to-youngest son, Joseph, was his father’s favorite. This fact was obvious, not only to him, but also to his eleven brothers. The older brothers plotted to kill Joseph, but instead sold him into slavery in hopes that they would never see him again. They told their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast.

Joseph was taken to Egypt as a slave, but somehow managed to find favor with the Pharaoh and brought out of slavery into a place of honor in the pharaoh’s court. This is where the story gets really interesting.

Joseph never forgot what his brothers had done to him. However, “the Lord was with him…” (Genesis 39:21) and years later, his brothers left their homeland during a famine and went to Egypt to beg for food. They did not suspect that they were begging these provisions in front of Joseph whom they did not recognize as their brother. But Joseph recognized them! Finally, after Joseph identified himself to his brothers, he said to them. “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…”(Genesis 45:5; 50:20, CSB).

It took Joseph many years to get the whole picture of how God “allowed” bad things to happen to him, but how God turned those bad experiences into something good—and not only for Joseph, but for many people in the lands of Canaan and Egypt.

It’s so hard to see God at work during times of abandonment, loneliness, and betrayal, but it’s not impossible. It may take a while for the picture to come together, but when it does, the pieces may fit nicely and beautifully.

You may be hurt, rejected, cheated on, and abandoned many times throughout your life. Those times can be horrible. I know, I’ve been there, but I also know that waiting to see God’s plan emerge from such a mess is worth the pain and discouragement. The bad that was intended by the enemy, God can turn into something good.

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I have often reminded myself of this quote whenever my environment (and Satan’s lies) seemed to work against my sense of value. Be aware that the decisions and deeds of others are part of the lies that Satan propagates.

My friend, Dr. Natalie Flake Ford, a professor of Psychology and Biblical Counseling, has experienced a different kind of abandonment in her life that has led to her struggles with self-worth. After her husband’s suicide, her sense of value was severely challenged. She writes,

“Can you imagine what it must have been like to live with her?

I can’t imagine how bad things must have been at home to drive him to take his own life.

Poor girl. I can’t imagine the guilt she must carry.”

These are just a few of the reoccurring thoughts I had in the wake of my husband’s suicide. I felt like others blamed me for his death. If I had been a better wife then…well, suffice it to say, I definitely played the “if only” and “what if” game.

For months, I dreaded going out in public. I was constantly trying to interpret various glances from others. Did they know about Michael’s death? Was that pity or was that blame I saw in their faces? I’d look away and pray that they wouldn’t come over and speak to me.

Today I know that I am not to blame for my husband’s suicide, but those early years wreaked of guilt, shame, and blame (both self-blame and perceived blame).

Another person’s deeds cannot not be tied to your own sense of worth.

Dr. Ford has a new book out. Here is a link.

During a rough time in my life I tried to learn how to knit. I thought it would give me a new sense of purpose. My friend, Sarah, worked patiently to teach me knitting techniques. When I didn’t seem to be learning the craft, she took me to the knit shop to get a “pro” to help me. I just couldn’t learn. During that time, I felt like a failure in so many ways and my lack of aptitude for a basic domestic skill sealed my low sense of worth. I was wearing a $0 price tag in my mind and heart. Years later when a huge crisis in my life was beginning to pass, I found the bag with all my knitting supplies. There was almost a whole skein of yarn, knitting needles that held a two-inch section I had “finished” and three or four instruction books that I had pored over but never understood. The sight suddenly brought those worthless feelings back and my value meter started to drop again. A little later, I was in a Bible study where a very familiar Psalm was read. I had heard it and even memorized it, but that day one thing hit me.  Psalm 139: 13-14 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV) The psalmist could have used another term besides “knit” to describe God’s handiwork in me, but he didn’t. At first, the word knit was hard to take until I realized how difficult that skill was for me. Complicated. Tedious. Creative. At that point, I began to realize the eternal price tag, that was mentioned in the introduction of this book, was starting to change. 

As the hurt began to heal, the scar left behind became a marker of God’s providence in mortal matters. Some seculars would state that “everything happens for a reason” but even that doesn’t console the wounded during the pain. In fact, during the pain, it’s next to impossible to see good during the bad. It’s after the “storm” that God’s hand becomes clear.

Romans 8:28 says it this way: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

STOP: Are you the result of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Have you ever questioned your worth because of your origin? Have you ever felt abandoned? Has someone you loved committed suicide?

LIE: *You are worthless.

*You were a mistake.

*You will never rise above your origin.

*It was your fault that someone left you.

TRUTH: Joshua 1:9 Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

From Psalm 139 – “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!”

“You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

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