Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
My brother was clearing out his bookshelves and decided to give me one his books. I was pleasantly surprised. It was Susan Boyle – The woman I was born to Be. I hadn’t read her life story before and I was looking forward to a good read.
Susan Boyle is well known—rose to prominence in 2009 with her stunning vocals in Britain’s Got Talent. She seemed to come from nowhere—from a small Scottish town, the youngest of nine brothers and sisters; a poor middle-class working family who had known their share of hardship living in the 1960s. Now she’s sold millions of albums and is adored by many around the world for her fabulous singing style. She was an unemployed charity worker living alone with Pebbles, her cat. She became an overnight sensation.
When Susan Boyle was born in April 1961, her mother was not very well. The birth was difficult. She had already given birth to eight children over 23 years and had been warned not to have any more children—it was a risky operation. In fact doctors had recommended she be terminated but her mother would not agree with such a drastic solution. It was touch and go and Susan was born by Cesarean section—quite a dramatic moment. But here’s what I found interesting. It seemed she may have had suffered slight brain damage. The doctor told her mum and dad:
“It’s probably best to accept that Susan will never be anything. She will never come to anything. So don’t expect too much of her”. (Part One – When I Was a Child).
As I read those words, I stopped with a sense of sadness. What was this doctor really saying to this couple who had just welcomed their ninth child in the family? She won’t amount to anything much. I thought it was a disgraceful statement—well intentioned or not. How could he know what this little baby’s future would be? I hope our medical world has advanced a lot since 1962. But that is a totally useless statement and cruel as well.
The Way We Can be ‘Blessed’ or ‘Cursed’
Think about it carefully for a minute. Not everyone makes a flying start in life. Einstein was thought to be backward; Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job with the criticism that he had no imagination; The Beatles were turned down by Decca; J. K. Rowling had her first book turned down again and again.
How could anyone know these people would make such a tremendous impact on our world? Susan Boyle came from very humble beginnings to bring enjoyment to many, many people. Her doctor was definitely wrong.
Parents can speak encouragement or discouragement to their children.
I think unfortunately there are many people who have this instant replay message in their head: I wish I’d never been born; I’ll never amount to anything; I’m just a loser. And that is a terribly destructive message that will not do any good.
A minister at church one Sunday morning talked about the ways that other people ‘bless or curse’ us. The words that parents speak to children can either encourage or positively label or ‘bless’ them, or discourage or negatively label or ‘curse’ them. A child who is repeatedly told he is of great value will grow up believing it, and a child who is told he is stupid or good-for-nothing will do the same. It takes God’s special touch of love and compassion to change that inner voice that tells you, I am an unworthy person; I am not as good as others.
Basing Our Worth on Other Peoples’ Opinions
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to base our worth on what people think. We all base our worth on how others view us. If someone else finds me worthy of their love, I must be worth something, right? But if I don’t feel like I am receiving approval from anyone, if no-one else is noticing my worth, then maybe I’m not worth anything.
We base our value on praise from others either for something we’ve done or bought or the way we look. Because essentially, if someone else thinks I’m am OK, then I must be OK.
Don’t worry about what others think—I don’t think that is realistic. I think all of us are wired this way—we are wired to be loved and accepted.
Base Your Worth on What God Thinks
The problem is people never love perfectly. Their views and opinions are constantly changing. They can never completely fill us up. Parents often get it wrong and heap scorn on their kids, which they remember. I believe the only way to gain deep rooted self-worth is to understand how God, your Creator, views you. Because his love is perfect and unconditional and pure. He thinks you are worthy. Once you understand this in the core of your being, in your soul, you will no longer depend on the fleeting approval of others, but your worth will be built on the solid foundation of an unchanging God.
God talks to us through his Word, the Bible. It is his love letter to you. The Bible is full of the truth about how God feels about you. God designed you and thought of you before you were born. He believes in you and has a wonderful future for you. Here’s the Bible speaking to you:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:13-16 – NLT))