An email regarding my last post has forced me to make two of my least favorite admissions: 1.) I was wrong, and 2.) I am worthwhile. In that post, I said I would state facts about what had been happening to cause a lapse in posting but that I wouldn’t apologize because I felt it would be too self-aggrandizing. But my friend called me out:
In the spirit of facts, here’s another one: what you write is important to people. So, if we’ve come to expect a certain frequency in your writing, and you fall short of it, then I don’t think an apology is out of place.
So without going Sally Fields on you, I want say this: I’m sorry, and thank you for esteeming my writing enough to bother showing up after two weeks’ silence. It’s just that it’s hard to accept. As hard as it is to say, “I’m wrong,” it’s painfully harder to say, “I’m worthwhile.”
Full disclosure: I had written the word worthy, but I couldn’t keep it; it’s too close to deserving. So I’m going to go with worthwhile, “sufficiently valuable.” I am a first child, raised in a warm-fuzzy Anglican tradition– I’ve climbed the dangerous precipice that leads from worthy to deserving to entitled. But I am also, for the past many years, a student of a solemn Reformed tradition– and I have gotten stuck in the mire that drags down from guilty to undeserving to worthless.
I’ve fallen into thinking that because I am sinful, nothing about me can be good. Every way I doubt myself is tied to this devastating belief. It’s why I resist thinking that my writing matters to anyone– I don’t dare be confident. It’s why in the picture above I’m bundled in superfluous layers and hidden behind unnecessary glasses– I don’t dare be beautiful. It’s why I doubt that Jesus died for me– I don’t dare be precious.
I can believe against all logic that a man died and went to Hell, returned to Earth, and then went to Heaven. I just can’t always believe he did it for me. That seems like taking things a bit too far.
I realize that saying these things and pointing out their roots in my faith tradition is risky. I know that it invites naysayers to exclaim, “Look how harmful religion is!” But I hope that anyone who would voice such opinions will hear me out a little longer.
I once shared my difficulty of accepting this personal Jesus with my impossibly lovely and wise friend Debbie, and she hit me hard with her quiet words. She said, “How could I ask him to prove he did it for me any more than he’s already done? I couldn’t ask him to die again.”
The proof was in the doing.
Whatever faults are to be found in any religion or faith tradition and whatever distorted beliefs might spring from them are a direct result of human frailty. But I believe that somewhere between the precipice of entitlement and the mire of worthlessness is the road of sanity. A road that, when I’m led back to it, brings me to the truth. And the truth is that whether I believe it every moment or not, I am found flawed but worthwhile; I am sufficiently valuable.