People widely lament how the world's most intelligent species (us) is the only one destroying the planet. They wonder why, in an age of enlightenment and knowledge, so much suffering continues to persist. Fear rises why humanity continues to destroy itself and its environment -- from nature to home life.
Humans are inherently flawed. For all the beauty and power the heart possesses, it also represents a danger that, unmanaged, wreaks havoc. In all our modernity, we have forgotten the necessities of managing the heart. Instead, our culture is saturated in "ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE!" Encouragement is a beautiful practice, but it must be meted with care. I can in no good conscience encourage someone to do something that will ultimately make them or others miserable, even if, in the moment, it seems to "feel good."
Humans cannot logically "fix" our hearts. Many of us struggle with value issues stemming from countless sources. Society's skewed answer to potential flaws is a flat one: "They must not have been encouraged enough as a child! We shall encourage them now!" But encouraging a misthreaded screw will only drive it deeper into trouble. You must first unscrew the connectors and then try again, or further, to find out if the connectors are mismatched. Perhaps the screw never belonged in this particular hole. Misthreaded or not, the screw does not belong here.
Children whose parents improperly shape their expectations of life's "fairness" may demand their environments change on their behalf. If it does not, they turn to politics, cults and bureaucratic religion to force change on the people around them. Others might aim toward career goals their parents set or intimated were "ideal" but which were never meant for them, all in hopes of pleasing their parents. Too many examples and scenarios exist to illustrate how we believe "this particular life path" will please our parents and finally get them to love us the way we always wanted. Parents aside, we find all sorts of ways to believe that achieving "this" or "that" will finally make us happy without truly assessing who we are and what we need.
For myself, God's been teaching me to let go who I think I'm "supposed to be," and to more fully embrace "who I am." I've spent years thinking achieving in business will finally help me complete that lack of self value that drives me to negative habits, which my heart believes will compensate for those unhealthy expectations.
No amount of sudden "enlightenment" will make my heart believe otherwise. Even knowing I struggle with minor self value moments and ambitions doesn't speak the language of my heart, which speaks in love, hate, anger, fear ... it is a simple creature that does not use English. English does not speak to my heart, only the feelings English may or may not produce.
Every human struggles with their own path to value. Some hoard things, others grow co-dependent, others strive after money or acclaim, and yet others shrink from the world in fear their flaws will be seen and others may judge them harshly. Ultimately, we all seek approval of a higher authority -- parents, other gender, society, boss ...
Since intelligence and knowledge doesn't seemingly fix this problem, what will?
As a believer in Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and paved the way for me to spend Eternity with God without having to earn his love or his sacrifice, by faith my spirit was made in the image of God and my identity is rooted as an adopted member of His family. I am a brother to Christ and a child of God. My value is INHERENT and UNEARNED.
In other words, I am already as valuable as I could ever hope to become.
Faith in Christ is not a journey from unvalued into valued, but into revealing who God made us to be and embracing that journey for what it is, not what we think it should be.
Human hearts being fickle, we chase after the loud and shiny. While that is different for each of us, the intent remains universal -- striving to control our environments in order to relieve the pressure of unfulfilled hearts. Even the Old Testament was God allowing man to strive after "self" attainment. All world religions strive after the same achievement -- to earn God and heaven. To atone for your own sins by "being a good person." All boils down to YOU, and what horrifies the heart more than anything is the ultimate revelation that YOU will never be good enough by your own steam.
We are weak, flawed, selfish, pleasure-addicted creatures. Even the "good" among us harbor karma in our hearts. We hope others get what they deserve while justifying how we don't deserve justice. We wish people would die, get hurt, lose what they have, or "get their due" because of how they treat us. We see the world from such an infinitesimally limited scope and have the audacity to believe our view of the world ought to be imposed upon others. Or, as I mentioned above, that love means shallowly encouraging others to pursue their dreams, ignoring that real love might mean telling someone how they're only going to hurt themselves.
When we find surrender in Christ, we do not devalue ourselves, but recognize our value comes neither from us nor is all about us. The purpose of our world is relationship -- first to our Creator and soulmate, next to our spouse, family, friends and ultimately to the people around us. Like the potter in the clay, the clay's value comes not from its own effort, but the effort of its creator. The pot cannot strive harder to hold more things or look prettier, for the pot cannot shape itself. Only the potter can do these things, and the pot's greatest pursuit should to embrace what the potter made it to be and do and let the potter decide how best the pot ought to be used.
Are you striving to figure it out, yourself? Or would you like to speak with your potter? To ask what He made you to be? To let him decide how best you will be used? We are all made with great purpose and a greater plan exists for us all. Apart from the potter, the pot is left to rot. With the potter, the pot is shaped, put through the difficult forging fires of character-building life events that strengthen, not merely "encourage," The pot is not autonomous, does not decide its own self-fulfillment, and will always feel valueless when decides its own path.
It's time to ask yourself if you're tired of trying to figure it out all on your own. If you're exhausted of life laughing at your attempts to own it, of your heart's eternal struggle to find value in the eyes of people who cannot do what you so want them to do, of your constant failures speaking more loudly than your successes, it's time to shift the man or woman sitting on the throne of your heart.
Who rules in your life? Your fickle heart? Or an eternal God who so loved you He sent his most beloved son to die so that you wouldn't have to?
It's time to start your journey into a life of submission to a God who both has your best interest at heart AND knows what you actually need, not what your skewed heart thinks it wants or other people believe is best for you but can only see the face you put forward, not the true inner pains which keep you up at night.
It's time to pursue Jesus Christ. He died for your sins, paying the price you fear will swallow you whole. Begin by reading the Bible. Start in Matthew -- yes, in the middle -- because the whole story of the Bible revolves around Christ. Work through the New Testament, framing everything you read through one lens above all: God's greatest commandment.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. - Jesus Christ (Matt 22:37-40)
Everything you read, no matter how difficult it sounds or how harsh it may seem, should be filtered through this lens. Everything God the Father does or what Jesus says is out of love for humans with fickle hearts who will ultimately, left unchecked and unmitigated, will destroy themselves.
God gave laws to prevent man from hurting himself, not merely to tell man "how to live." Jesus's arrival proved that man could not save himself, and that only through surrender would man's greatest purpose be fulfilled -- spending an eternity with a holy God.
If you want to spend eternity with a holy God, seek after Him. He's been seeking after you before He even designed you in your mother's womb. He loved you before you were a spark or a speck in anyone's eye. You were paid for thousands of years before you came to be. Turn to the one who created the world simply so you could enjoy it with Him.