Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Eternally Valuable

“I am He who, in an instant, can raise up the humble man’s mind to a better understanding of the principles of eternal truth than if he had spent ten years studying them at a university.” (Thomas à Kempis)

Where do we find our value?

I think this is one of the most important questions that we can stop and reflect upon. Where do I find my value? The answer to this simply complex question holds in its grasp the power that drives you to act, react, and ultimately live the way you do.

If this value is misplaced, you are ultimately acting, reacting, and living for a meaningless purpose. Many of us find our value in things that are fleeting, unachievable, or simply ridiculous to try to obtain. This is damaging! It puts us on a wild roller coaster ride of ups and downs, dips and turns, constantly wanting the ride to be over but knowing that if we get off we will be lost in a place where we no longer feel we are valuable.

The problem that many of us face is that we know where our values should be placed. They should be in the higher, eternal, character improving, life changing, God-honouring, loving others kind of things. They should be in the lasting, not the perishable; the genuine, not the forced; the relieving, not the stressful.

For most of my life I have found my value in my grades. No, this is not the only place where I find value – I do find my value in some of the positive things that I have previously mentioned, but this is a stronghold in my life that has taken me until the end of university to come to terms with.

I strive desperately, pain-stakingly, stressfully for the best possible grades. And I achieve them. I have never had a grade on a report card less than an A throughout elementary school, high school, and university. I have never received a grade back on any paper, midterm, or final exam less than an A- in my four years of university. I have achieved my goals, and I should be happy with the value I feel from this...right?

It is easy to find temporary value in all of this. I like to hear family and friends’ encouraging words, I’m elated when I see my final grades, and I push myself to new challenges and levels constantly. Striving for good grades in themselves are not bad, but when I feel that this defines me, there is a problem.

To find my deepest value of self in something so fleeting, so private, so temporary is troublesome. It brings with it great highs, but also great lows.

The problem with finding value in something so momentary is that when it goes away or temporarily dips, as it surely will, we feel like everything around us is shattering. We lose our identity, our footing, and our self-assurance.

Of course, grades are not the only shaky ground that we can find our value in. For you it may be your style or looks, it may be your ability to hold everything together at once, or constantly putting others in front of yourself. It may be how you think others perceive you, how you are climbing the corporate chain, or how you are able to juggle so many different pieces at one time.

When you find your value in the temporary, it understates your eternal value.

At some point we will all fail, make mistakes, and drop the ball on something really important to us. But for those of us who find our value in the fleeting, there won’t be anything to catch you when you do fall except for self-pity, frustration, and deception.

I encourage you, reflect, dig deep, see what you find your value in... if its in the temporary, the fleeting, or the short-lived then work to reorient yourself to deeper, rooted, eternal places of value. You are worth more than the size of pants you wear, the amount of things you can multitask with, the dollar sign on your pay cheque, or the grade on your final report. 

You are eternally valuable, so find your value in something that truly suits that title.

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