Perhaps the best and worst part of my job is helping young people understand their worth. Once a month, I host a middle school night for the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders of St. Timothy parish. It’s an hour and a half of dinner, games, prayer, and Jesus. This past Saturday night, they turned classmates into reindeer and snowmen because few things are funnier than a person with pantyhose pulled over her face or someone with twigs taped to his arms and a carrot sticking out of his mouth. Don’t worry, no one was left out of our reindeer games.
Bad joke, sorry.
Then we split into small groups by age and gender and watched a couple videos from Bob Rice about Advent and what it means to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. Bob asked, “Are you ready for the Second Coming of Christ?”
My group of five pre-teens answered with a resounding, “No, of course not!”
I was surprised by their willingness to admit their shortcomings.
“I do a lot of things wrong, I’m definitely not ready for Jesus.”
“I could do way better.”
“Caitlin, I’m so not perfect. I look at my friends, and… I’m just not as good as them.”
They were a talkative group of girls and proceeded to build on a metaphor of God as a trophy, trying to adequately describe our relationship to Him.
“Okay so God is this perfect trophy, shiny and golden and beautiful… and..”
“And we’re like the smudges on the trophy! We make it less beautiful!”
I almost fell out of my seat. If you’re not appalled by how this metaphor falls short, read it again and then feel the devil twist the handle of the knife in your gut. And then hear it from the mouths of 11- and 12-year-old girls who already struggle with body image, family problems, bullies, and the demons in their own heads tearing them down. They told me they could never be good enough for God.
As if they had to earn God’s love.
Short on time, I interrupted as they continued to feed off one another and search for a way to complete their horrifying metaphor.
We don’t have to be good enough for God. There is no good enough and there is no earning God’s love. Song of Songs 4:7 says “You are all beautiful my beloved, there is no blemish in you!” God made no mistake in creating you and He loves you perfectly as you are. We return that love by striving to be like Him.
And that’s about as far as I could get. But here’s how I’ll continue the conversation: your worth, your value lies in your identity as a child of God. You are not a mistake. You are not inherently bad. You don’t have to be good enough! Psalm 139 says God knit you together with great care and intention. Ephesians 2:10 says you are a masterpiece.
Check this out: at first glance, it’s a cheesy photo of Liam Neeson staring at his baby.
Look closer, see the soft upturn of his mouth and the crinkles around his eye that manifest true joy. His gaze is one of complete and utter unconditional love for this tiny, perfect child. He holds his precious child in the palm of his hand, close to his heart.
Imagine how you might live if you knew with deep and abiding conviction that this is how God sees you (and loves you): perfect, beloved, strong, full of the potential to do great and wonderful things. Would you allow yourself to be vulnerable and broken open so that you might love in greater capacities? Would you love others with reckless abandon so that they may come to know their value? Would you trust God to provide for you and guide your path?
It’s a difficult and daily struggle because there is a war for your heart. God says you are perfect, the devil takes cheap shots at your deepest insecurities.
Don’t trip over the lies that you are not good enough. Ask God to show you how much He loves you, because He will. Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.
How do you remain convicted of your great value?