It’s defined as one’s sense of value of him/herself. It’s something vague and can’t be measured. Even the concept of “self” brings confusion because who we are isn’t defined by ourselves alone. The way we think, act, and respond isn’t an original product of our own but a result of influence since we were born.
And I guess the idea of self-worth is just an illusion that we sometimes hold on to because we strive so hard to matter as a lone individual amidst the billion others. It falsely encourages us that we are valuable and our destiny and purpose is beautifully unique to us. But it fails. Because our definition of self-worth depends on our situation, on other people, most commonly. When we’re in a suffering, we define it as capable and strong, and when we’re in cloud9, we define it as deserved and entitled.
We always believe in it not because we want to be happy, but because we want to DESERVE the happiness that we can get. Maybe that’s why we fall down so often because we hold on to something doesn’t stand strong. The moment other people strike a wind of discouragement or hurtful actions, our built self-worth easily breaks down.
That’s why for me, seeking for self-worth is like trying to escape from the reality that human, indeed, is nothing but a dust. And unless we realize and accept that truth, we cannot experience the wholeness of a God that He is. Because we’re still holding on to something we think we own, when everything we ever wanted is only found in the attributes of the loving Deity. So we strive to have God hoping to have the very thing that we want. And what we really want is to be worthy.
In another sense, we don’t strive to get our own self-worth from our self, but now from another Being who alone is worthy. We then start to believe that when we have God, we become worthy, just because He loves us and all that. And we will always end up failing. Not because that “worth” (love or identity) will fail (because whatever God has given us will not change) but because we won’t be able to handle the expectation and the high standard that the world, even ourselves, demands from being “worthy”. What we’re trying to get from God is the kind that many would expect perfection from, which an imperfect man can’t perform.
The danger of it is that when we already put our trust and confidence in the idea of “worth” rather than God. Much more when our goal of living is already to attain the kind of worth that the world influenced us with. Just like any other idols that human could have, if we behold on it much more than we should behold God Himself, then we’re bound for destruction.
The bottom line is, wherever we look for it from, self-worth will never be enough to make us deserve of anything that’s heavenly good. The human heart is selfish and wicked, making everything we desire and acquire never enough to sustain us. We are never deserving.
That’s why grace comes in.
Grace tells us that we don’t deserve anything but it is given to us because Somebody is capable of loving a mere dust, not because of our self-worth but because of God’s love—He is love Himself. And because of that love, we became valuable, in which the world may or may not see, it doesn’t matter. By grace, we have worth, a heavenly-worth, which we are never worthy to have. That is, we are unconditionally and eternally loved against all the odds of human failures.
Grace tells us that we don’t have to live to attain goodness, but we can now live for God because we have been given these imperishable things. We are to live not with pride of being deserving, but with humility that despite of being unworthy, we are still offered with such goodness. Grace is already enough for us to have joy and peace without anxiously thinking if we even deserve it or not.
There’s no point on looking for the perfect currency of self-worth to live a full life. There’s no need for us to be worthy because God already is.
And instead of seeking and focusing on knowing our self-worth, it is way better to seek God and be in His presence. In there, we don’t have to be tired to be loved. We don’t have to doubt His thoughts about us. Even though we cannot completely fathom the way God looks at us, we can be sure that it is good and there is nothing we could do to be loved lesser or more. We do not have to be pressured and stressed to prove ourselves worthy. He knows we’re not, yet He loves us anyway.
We’re not worthy yet He loves us anyway.