A few years ago, during my freshman year, there were two seniors from the psychology department who presented their project to people in the Fair Commons lobby. I don’t remember the exact words they used, but the general idea of their presentation was “Where do you find your worth?”
They spoke about different things that give people a sense of worth and purpose: grades, athletic ability, relationships, etc. and how all of these things are unstable in some way: you can perform poorly on a test, on the field, or on stage, you can grow apart from others.
Their assertion was that the only stable foundation for a person’s worth and identity was their relationship with their Creator. Hopefully you have gathered that I happen to agree with their conclusion.
I have found that, whenever things in my life are less than perfect, if I let myself be defined by my own feelings or performance, or by the feelings or performance of others, the question of who I am and how much I’m worth is always subject to change. The only constant that I have been able to find is this: That God is good, He loves me, and I am His child.
These are the things that give me a stable identity and a stable sense of worth. If I’m honest, there have been times where I didn’t feel God’s love and I’ve wondered whether or not He truly viewed me as His child. Those times were awful, but even then I was able to trust that God was good regardless, and I knew that my feelings didn’t necessarily reflect reality.
I think this focus upon God for my identity and worth is what those seniors were talking about my freshman year; and I think it has challenging implications that go beyond me. You see, defining myself by my relationship with God has become a lenses through which I try to view myself and, beyond that, the world around me.
It’s challenging because I face the recognition that all people are loved by God, not just me, and not just the people that I think He should love. He loves the artist, the athlete, the gamer, the famer, the orphan, the sick, the healthy, the beautiful, the ugly, the workaholics, the lazy, the relaxed, the anxious, the hungry, the well-fed, the popular, the lonely, and every other person not included in this list.
This has been especially difficult during this specific political season. Personally, I find it easy to see how God loves those facing violence, and those trying to unite. It is difficult, though, for me to see worth in those who inflict violence and those trying to divide. In part, I feel that this is because we live in such a world, a nation, which often feels so divided. Whether it is by state, race, gender, sexuality, religion, political party, etc. it seems that everyone is at odds with each other. At times, it can feel like peace and community with others is next to impossible. It is a combatant spirit that is felt especially heavily in our presidential debates.
While I certainly recognize things which I cannot support in good conscience, I also recognize that my fight isn’t with people, it’s with “the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” It seems, therefore, that it would behoove me to recognize the worth of others, even those I might otherwise deem my enemy, and the fact that they are beloved.
Mitchell is a junior psychology major from from Cloverdale, Indiana.