Am I Really ‘Oh, So Valuable’?

     I wish I could look you in the eye right now and say, “________________, you are oh, so valuable!”

     How do you think you’d feel when you heard those words?

          Warm, fuzzy validation?

               Uncomfortable?

                    Doubtful?

                         Cynical?

                               Unworthy?

     What might be your initial response?

          “YES, I am…”

               “You’re kidding, right…”

                    “Yeah, I know that, BUT…”

                              “Please…don’t say that!”

                                             “No way!”

     I’ve spent a good part of my life believing in my head I’m valuable, and yet not embracing a sense of value in my heart! Even when I put up a good front, most of my many years, I’ve felt ‘less than,’ ‘not quite enough’ or ‘just okay’ more often than feeling tremendously valuable.

     I endeavored to be the best me possible but struggled with an underlying doubt I couldn’t measure up.

     And, always, a little interior voice echoed,

          “You’re not enough,

               Not e-n-o-u-g-h!”

                    N-o-t e-n-o-u-g-h!”

     I know I’m not alone when I describe this experience. So, why do we doubt our value? When did we begin to sense our lack of worth?

     Most roots creating feelings of inadequacy originate during the formative period of childhood. They grow deeper with peer, school and workplace interactions. By the time we’re able to identify them, we’re adults beset with multitudes of responsibilities, and exploring our own issues must be placed on the back burner.

     The realization that I am ‘oh, so valuable’ has for me dawned primarily in my journey of spiritual discovery. The ‘head level’ belief has grown into a ‘heart level’ assurance of my intrinsic value to God. God’s value has been the springboard from which I’m still learning to value myself as well as valuing others.

     My first deep realization came during a season when I discovered a person whose love and acceptance I desired more than anything no longer valued me. During one of that season’s darkest moments, I read Psalm 139 from the Living Bible. The ancient words, paraphrased in modern English, sank into my spirit, assuring me in the darkest, deepest depths of my being that the God of the Universe values me.

     I invite you to read this portion of scripture for yourself (The Living Bible can be found on one of my favorite sites: www.biblegateway.com.) Snippets from this passage that changed me forever:

      1O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

      You chart the path ahead of me… Every moment you know where I am

     You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head.

     12 For even darkness cannot hide from God;

     15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

     17-18 How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly… when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!

     While I still have a long way to go in this arena, I feel assured I will continue to grow because I believe God wants us to grasp the divine value attached to our lives and will, with grace and faithfulness, teach that truth.

     In the next few Listening on the Journey… blog posts, I will delve more deeply into the discovery of VALUE. I hope you’ll join me.

Until then, I hope you’ll ponder this thought: “__________________, you are oh, so valuable!”

Sue Reeve

Wisdom in the Garden…

     Several years ago, I began praying about a “life verse—” a sort of scriptural purpose statement to help align my yearnings with God’s good purpose. One morning, a few short verses jumped off the pages of my Bible right into the depths of my soul. I knew this is the type of woman I wished to be.

     Below is the slightly-altered text of my life verses, Psalm 1:1-3, from the NIV.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the woman
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but her delight is in the law of the Lord,
and she meditates on God’s law day and night.
She is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever she does prospers.

     While participating in a contemplative prayer retreat at Cova San Ignacio in Manresa, Spain last spring, Fr. Javier Meloni, retreat facilitator, encouraged us to take morning prayer walks in the Center’s garden. Generally, I measure the value of walks by the number of steps my Fitbit monitors, and Javier’s assignment felt as foreign as the nation to which I’d travelled.

     When walking in nature, he suggested, think of each step as a kiss to the earth from which life is received. Trees, vegetables and fruit grown in the soil are all gifts from the earth God has given us.

     Walk slowly. Study the intricacies of a leaf. Touch the trunks of the trees, feeling unique textures of bark. Observe the differences in shrubs, trees, flowers, even blades of grass.

     Listen to sounds of creation—birds singing, insects chirping, the wind whistling.

     I like trees, and two different ones drew my attention during my first garden walk. One stood alone at the perimeter. An old tree with coarse, deeply wrinkled bark, reminding me of a venerable, aged seaman keeping watch.

     The second tree was like no other in this garden. While most tree branches were still barren on the early-spring day when I walked, this tree was in full bloom. I noticed signs that revealed pruning, which had occurred in the past. The marks had healed, leaving only smooth scars as evidence of the tree’s previous pruning.

     The tree reminded me of my “life verses,” and I decided to make this tree “mine” while in Manresa.

     My first nature-walk in the garden at Cova San Ignacio had been a deeply satisfying, sweetly spiritual experience. I was anxious to repeat the exercise.

     The next morning as I entered the garden, this image, which I captured with my cell phone camera, shows how “my” Manresa-tree greeted me!

     As I gazed on the light radiating through its branches, I realized not only do trees need earth’s soil to exist. They need sunlight to create energy essential for photosynthesis that produces oxygen in the life-giving air I breathe.

     What is the spiritual truth for me to learn in this garden-walk experience?

     I wondered, then concluded. Even as “my” Manresa-tree needs both soil and sun to grow, I need to not only meditate day and night on the truth of scripture to yield fruit. I need the very power of the Spirit of Jesus, the one who declared, “I am the light of the world…[1]” to reflect lifegiving light through the branches of my being.

     What wisdom can be found in a garden!

Blessings as you ‘listen’ with your heart to lessons each of us can learn from nature…

Sue Reeve

  1. Words Jesus spoke, found in John 8:12

When Life is Difficult…

     Life disappoints.

          Life discourages.

               Life disillusions.

                    Certainly, life can sometimes be downright difficult.

     I was reminded of the difficulties life often deals us the other day while reading in the Psalms.

     Three times in Psalm 42 and 43[1] the psalmist asks,

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
and why art thou disquieted within me?[2]

     So, what do we do when our souls are downcast, when we feel disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned or snared in a web of difficulty.

     The psalmist, I believe, gives us a great answer:

hope in God: …[and] praise God

     Sounds simple, huh? It’s not!

     Hope and praise aren’t the typical ‘go-to’ responses when our souls are downcast and disquieted. If you’re anything like me, you realize how easy it is to get bogged down in my current circumstance, to despair rather than hope, to grumble rather than praise.

     It’s during difficult times that sometimes what we need most to do is simply dig in our heels of faith and keep moving forward—placing one faltering foot of faith in front of the other until a new season arrives.

     Because I speak with people each week who are experiencing all manner of difficulties, I know the words in today’s blog post will resonate with someone. I’m praying for you, asking God to provide hope that refreshes, supportive resources to help guide, and caring friends to encourage each step of the way.

     Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.biblegateway.com – In many Hebrew manuscripts Psalms 42 and 43 constitute one psalm.
  2. Psalm 42:5 & 11; Psalm 43:5 (KJV)