Life can wear us down, and we question if we are worthy of love. But we need to look to a deeper story going on than feelings of the present.
It was gone. Something had gone from them. And they felt it.
No longer caring about their appearance, their diet, their health. Something deep in their existence had whispered away, or at least that’s how it felt to them.
‘Did they have worth?’ they wondered. And especially were they worthy of love and self-care?
They couldn’t see anything of love or worth in themselves. Others seemed to show scant regard for them too.
They wondered if they died today would anyone come to the funeral. Would anyone say anything?
What worth would be attributed to them?
Worth is such a value-based measurement. So how can you measure one’s worth?
Some measure it by dollars, some by fame. Then there are the medals of achievement, contribution to society, raising a family.
Do younger people have more worth than older people?
Do certain lives #matter or have more worth than others?
How do you measure worth? How do you measure your own worth?
And what about God? How does God measure one’s worth?
But there is Amando
I remember a story from Larry Crabb in his book Becoming a True Spiritual Community.
There once was a small eight-year-old boy called Amando. Small because he had been abandoned by his mother and was dying from the lack of food. Amando wasn’t able to walk, talk or eat by himself. In addition, he had a severe mental disability.
In an orphanage, he found people who loved him and held him, and as they did, he gradually began to eat again and develop.
But when carers picked him up, his whole body would ‘quiver with joy and excitement and say, “I love you.”
Amando was a lover.
What was his worth?
In our worldy measurement of success, fame, and value, perhaps he had no value.
But to those that held him and knew him, there was a worth that kind of celebrated true love. It was like the Christ shining through his eyes.
Amando’s shake the familiar world of worth that is based on human-based values.
Worthy of love
If I was to ask you and many others if you are worthy of love, then I am sure that I would get many well thought out logic-based answers.
Many of my Christian friends would cite scriptures and give theological answers. Books would be given to read.
Yet, good as all this is, it can leave me cold.
No one has gone to the heart, which can be like a dry, empty well.
The heart can only be entered through deep listening, not logic and law.
Perhaps you’ve been cast out of the group because of a spot on the skin – leper.
Maybe stones are being picked up to throw at you until you die.
And you pick times to come out into town so that you can avoid meeting those nasty tongued neighbors. You go to draw water when no one else is around, but you meet a man.
Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:6-9
Jesus cut through the conventions of worthiness. Instead, Jesus would associate, connect with, pour out love to anyone thirsty.
He himself was thirsty.
It’s a pretty simple thing to give someone a drink of water isn’t it. To lower a jug into a well and draw some droplets.
I’m not sure she ever got to do this because, well, a conversation began. Perhaps the words exchanged swept them both into a moment of refreshing delight that expressed the worthiness of love.
She saw in Jesus an ‘Amando’ delight flowing towards her.
How do you measure your worth, your worthiness to receive?
Have you done enough yet? Have you ticked all the boxes?
Perhaps you need to crush the conventions of worthiness.
Those rules and social norms that express whether someone is on the inside or the outside. Those messages from religious church experiences that you’re a worm and a wretch. The parental put-downs that still haunt you like ghosts.
I like to look under the skin.
There is something of deep value and beauty under everyone’s facade. It’s there, but you have to give focused listening attention to see its glimmers.
Then it invites you to fall in love with the source.
The person may not see it themselves—that special quality, giftedness, movement, a talent that needs to be endorsed and validated.
But it’s the sparkle in Amando’s eye and the shiver of excitement that shouts, ‘I love you.’
Getting soaked in worth
Imagine yourself taking a long hot shower.
You sit there, stand there, you allow it to pour over until you feel it shaking something deep inside.
You quiet yourself until you feel the water flowing over every portion of your body—a massaging of droplets hitting the skin.
That is what knowing your worth is like. Love working into the crevices of your thinking so that old conventions of worth and value are replaced by truth. You are loved and have worth.
You come back to this shower time and time again because some of those old ways of thinking take time to be washed away.
Are you worthy of love? Yes, you are.
Perhaps we all need Amando’s like you to sparkle and shiver.
Quotes to consider
- No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s faithful love. Henri Nouwen The inner voice of love
- When you are overcome by self-doubt and self-criticism, the tiniest bit of understanding feels like a full body massage. Rohr, Richard. Job and the Mystery of Suffering
- In the spiritual life it’s much more important to know how to listen than to know how to talk. Rohr, Richard. Job and the Mystery of Suffering
- If how we feel each morning depends on whether people are nice to us, if we can’t be happy without outside approval, we’re not really happy or fundamentally free. Happiness is finally an inside job.We are too often “reeds swaying in the breeze” (Matt. 11:7), dependent moment by moment on others’ reaction and approval. This is the modern self: insubstantial, whimsical, totally dependent and calling itself “free.” Rohr, Richard. Job and the Mystery of Suffering
Questions to consider
- What were some early childhood messages you received about worth and worthiness?
- What is worth?
- There is an Amando sparkle inside you. What would it be like for someone else to discover it and endorse its value?