This weekend I sat through another sermon about being good enough for God no matter what mistakes we’ve made or what sins we have committed. It seems like so many people need to hear this message, but it never seems to resonate with me. I have spent my entire life trying to be perfect for people. I don’t have regrets that make me feel guilty and distant from God.
It’s not, though, that I think that I deserve everything God can give. I know that I do not. I was raised with the knowledge that what I deserve is Hell. What I deserve is suffering. I am not worthy of anything good happening to me.
I remember being in summer camp during my secondary school years. I stood at the altar praying for any kind of miracle – anything God would give me. Somewhere in there, I said, “I am not worthy of this, but You make me worthy.”
It was accurate. Profound, even.
I didn’t really believe it, though.
I have always gotten stuck on the first part of that sentence: “I am not worthy.” I am not deserving of God’s mercy or grace or love or attention. I am not even worthy of people’s love or time or thoughts. I grew up believing that my unworthiness was an essential part of my identity. Undeserving, I believed, is literally who I am. My humanity meant being undeserving. My existence entailed be undeserving of everything.
This belief has made it so difficult for me to stand up for myself. My status as fellow human being meant to me that I only deserved the worst, not that I deserved to be treated with respect. It has also made praying difficult. Why should God give me anything that I do not deserve? So I prayed only for the extreme needs, or for other people.
Really, it all comes down to the same issue as feeling distant from God because of past mistakes. We don’t feel worthy of God’s love. For some people, it is because of their actions. For me, it was because I considered unworthiness to be inherent in me. We have all forgotten that God has made us worthy. With the cross, all our unworthiness, for whatever reason, doesn’t count anymore. Our status is now worthy. We are now deserving of God’s love and of God’s blessings, because we have been made so.
It is now an accurate statement to say, “I am worthy. I am deserving.”
Unworthiness is gone, washed away, forgotten, and forgiven.
I am worthy.