‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’ 1 John 4:16-18
As long as I can remember I have struggled with self-worth, in particular the feeling that I’m not enough. I’ve often thought that if I was a bit more confident, a bit prettier or if I had a certain outfit that I would be finally happy. However, everything I tried left me unsatisfied - I was chasing something I couldn’t attain.
This feeling intensified when I came to university. I have a memory on my first day, I was walking around campus and comparing myself to every other girl I saw. From this first day my insecurities really began to develop, and I was gradually being filled with self-doubt.
After speaking to my friends, I’ve realised that I’m not alone in this. Although coming to university has been great in so many ways, I’ve realised that it can be a damaging environment in terms of self-worth. I found that our image focused culture confused my sense of where my value comes from. We are living in an environment where our worth comes from external factors like how we look or what grades we get, and this is, to put it bluntly, a lie. I found this quote which sums up a damaging side of uni-culture for me, “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.”
As a way of trying to reclaim ground in my battle for self-worth I gave up spending money on ‘image focused’ items for lent. This meant I didn’t get my nails done, or buy make up and clothes. Although this might seem like a small thing it snatched away my safety blanket and I had to rely on God to make me feel good about myself. It was only through beginning to ask God for a deeper relationship with him that I began to realise how incredibly loved I was and where my worth came from. What I began to realise is that nothing can really satisfy me other than Gods love. No matter how many clothes I buy I will always be searching for more.
This process of healing continued in such a beautiful way this summer at the Youth 2000 Walsingham festival. During the Holy Spirit night, I felt God speak to me as his daughter. As my Father he was calling my name, telling me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me. I saw all of my insecurities from Gods perspective, road blocks in receiving his love, and I have never felt more loved. It made me realise that where our worth comes from is the creator of the world, the creator of me and you. He has a plan for us, delights in us and loves us infinitely.
‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’
Now I’m in my final year and although, of course, I still experience self-doubt, but my faith has been a gift, it shows me where my worth comes from. In a culture that promotes the idea of your worth coming from what the world thinks of us, the Catholic faith reveals the truth that we are loved simply as sons and daughters of the living God. What we are called to realise is that we are loved unconditionally. No matter how much we mess up or stray, God is waiting for us to return with open arms.
It’s so important to be reminded, especially at university where worth is particularly threatened, that our worth comes from God. You and I were created by the creator of the world and we are loved unconditionally by Him who loves us “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20) I’ve been so blessed this year to be surrounded by friends who remind me of this truth and gradually I have learnt how to really believe the fundamental truth that I am loved not for what I look like or what I do but for being his daughter.