Everybody just wants to belong.
Whether it’s in high school cliques, groups of coworkers, a family, or even a simple relationship with one person, such as a friendship or romance, every person feels an inherent need to be accepted by other people. While it’s easy to understand why this is a common, universal need, it’s important to remember that our personal self worth is not dependent on other people.
In a world where social rejection and emotional abuse runs rampant, it is critical to understand why we must keep our self worth independent from others around us. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why this is so necessary for our well being:
1. No one is perfect.
We’ve all heard this line a million times before, often as an excuse for people to explain their poor choices of behavior; but it is a fact that is worth repeating in this particular context. Every person that has ever been born came into this world with a flawed, sinful human nature. With that being said, everyone is naturally going to make mistakes throughout the course of their lives. Since everyone in the world possesses an imperfect nature, it is foolish to place a high priority on what people think of us or say about us. All humans are emotional, inconstant beings, whose moods and opinions can change for any reason. It is simply unhealthy to invest our self esteem completely in the power of extremely fickle beings. In fact, it’s not just unhealthy; it can also be dangerous.
One reason it can be dangerous is in the case of the breakup of a romantic relationship. After spending so much time together, confiding your trust, and caring so much for that person, it is extremely devastating when, for whatever reasons, that relationship comes to an end. If you invested a significant amount of your self worth in that person, their rejection or loss will not only feel like a slap in the face, but will leave you feeling completely empty as well. It will feel like an existential identity crisis in the worst case scenario. If so much of your life was centered around that person, there will be a large void in your heart after they are gone. Some people become so heartbroken that they feel like they have nothing left to live for after this happens, feeling utterly worthless. Just having these feelings at all is bad enough, but even worse is when some people choose to act on them. Sadly, this situation has happened thousands of times, and has resulted in some people wanting to permanently end their life. It breaks my heart to think of how many people have chosen to end their lives because of the shards of broken relationship dreams.
We must always be conscious of people’s sinful, human nature before we start defining our value by what others think of, say about, or do to us.
2. Everyone is different.
We are all created as unique individuals with specific strengths and weaknesses. Because of this, we must realize that we won’t always be accepted by someone else’s standards. However, if we always try to conform to someone else’s standards of approval, we will inevitably fall short of another person’s standards. It is impossible to please everyone, even when you have the very best intentions. Most importantly, the more you try to change yourself to please others, the more you’ll forget about who you really are. The worst thing you could possibly do is lose your identity while aiming for the affirmations of others. What usually happens is people will either sense you’re trying to pretend to be like them and become disgusted, or they’ll say they preferred the old you better. When you make the decision to change yourself to try to fit in or make someone else happy, you will wind up hopelessly confused, and feel like you have nowhere to turn.
One common situation when this happens is when teenagers attempt to gain popularity with their peers in high school. Tired of feeling like social outcasts, they’ll start buying different clothes or acting a certain way in an effort to imitate the popular kids. When they discover that changing their outward appearance and mannerisms doesn’t always win them friends and social approval, they’ll end up feeling disheartened because of other people’s shallow opinions. It can be extremely painful for anyone to go through this experience, especially when it happens at such a fragile, impressionable age. Teenagers have a main goal of discovering who they are before they become adults, and when they receive mixed messages about what gains people popularity, they feel cheated and betrayed by what their social environment told them was true. Worst of all, in their attempt to be just like everyone else, they sacrifice a lot of things that used to make them happy, and consequently may suffer a slight form of amnesia about what they used to like. Or the opposite situation could happen, where shedding their former identity actually succeeds in winning them friends. They might have gained their long-coveted popularity, but for the wrong reasons altogether, wishing that they could instead be accepted for who they really are.
Instead of conforming to man-made standards of approval, we should celebrate the differences our Creator gave us to design us as unique, irreplaceable individuals.
3. We all have a specific purpose.
Every single person that God has made was put here on this earth for an important reason. Whether or not a person has chosen to reconcile with his Creator is an important factor when it comes to fulfilling that purpose. We spend our whole lives trying to figure out why we exist, changing our occupations and mindsets frequently in an attempt to discover the mysterious, existential truth. For Christians, this matter is referred to as discovering God’s will, or calling for our lives. There will always be opposition in this world no matter what you decide to do, but Satan loves to discourage Christians by making them question their calling through the criticisms of other people. It is mandatory that we remember the Lord is our Master, not people. Nothing is more tragic than a person feeling like he has to abandon God’s call for his life just because some hateful, ignorant people decided to judge his abilities or ridicule him. If we allow the negative words of others’ mouths to affect us too much, we run the risk of wasting our potential for God’s service. When all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is a Christian’s obedience to God in the end; NOT man’s fallible opinion.
It is unfortunate that this situation happens every day, even in some Christian settings. Someone might possess a great amount of zeal and enthusiasm about wanting to do something for God, only to be shot down by the toxic words of malicious people. All too often this tends to happen in a church setting, where some people have wrongly chosen to spread their negative influence through harmful gossip. It is a shameful reality that many great leaders with a heart for God’s service have forfeited their potential either by choice, or in some cases coerced to do so. Imagine how many lives could have been touched by one person’s influence in a godly, positive way had he not been affected by the venomous words and opinions of others! Or even outside of a ministry setting, a person might be discouraged by common criticisms that accuse them of incompetence, or by being relentlessly compared to others with greater talents and abilities than he has. Satan wants nothing more than to take away valuable soldiers from God’s army in all areas!
God’s purpose for our lives far outweighs the opinions that others hold about us, so we must not allow constant criticism to affect how we follow God’s will.
So if our self worth isn’t defined by other people, then where do we find it?
The answer is simple –
Our self worth is found in God’s love for us.
We live in a world where people will ALWAYS reject us, but Jesus ALWAYS accepts us. It does not mean that He accepts our sin, however; it means He accepts us IN SPITE OF our sin. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or what we have done, God loves us unconditionally, because He is the very definition of love. However, since He is holy and righteous, He cannot accept our sin, because it would contradict His very nature. That is why He sent His Son Jesus, Who did absolutely nothing wrong, to die on the cross in our place, taking the punishment that we really deserved. If you do not know Him, all you have to do is acknowledge that you are a sinner, ask God to forgive you of your sin, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin, and accept the Holy Spirit to come live inside your heart. God’s plan for salvation is so secure, that He made sure the entire Holy Trinity is involved in reconciling a lost soul back to Him. It is through this plan of salvation that God manifested His love for us, even though we did nothing to deserve His love.
If you do know Him already, and you profess to be a Christian, then you can rejoice in knowing that you will always be accepted no matter what. When all your friends and family forsake you, God will never leave your side. He understands you better than anyone else ever can, and He is always there for you to talk to Him whenever you want or need to. No matter what man says, you ARE valuable, and priceless to the One Who died for you. You are an eternal soul of incredible worth, created in the divine image of God, and He is the only One Who gets to decide how much meaning your life has. Forget about the fallible opinions of sinful man, and embrace the knowledge that you are loved and accepted by the eternal Creator, and a wonderful Savior.
Here is proof found in God’s Word that you can embrace your acceptance:
John 3:16 ~ “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 6:37 ~ “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.“
Romans 8:38-39 ~ “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Galatians 1:10 ~ “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.“
Colossians 2:10 ~ “And ye are complete in Him, Which is the Head of all principality and power:“
Jeremiah 31:3 ~ “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
Romans 5:8 ~ “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.“
God wants everyone in the world to know that they are loved, accepted, and wanted by Him, whether they do the same for Him in return or not. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are saved in this context, because ALL souls are valuable in God’s eyes. If you have already embraced your acceptance by God, that’s wonderful; if not, are you willing to accept Him?
– Gloria D. Hopkins