Confession: I regularly value and devalue myself based on variables.
I did well on this project. = I feel good about myself.
I really bombed. = Good feeling’s gone.
I said something witty and made people laugh. = Yay for Shari.
My comment in Sunday school trailed off into nothingness. = I guess I don’t have anything to offer. Next time I’ll keep my mouth shut.
My talent received public recognition. = Maybe I am really valuable.
No one responded to my contribution. = What does that mean? Are people okay with me?
Most of you have read Max Lucado’s story “You Are Special,” (read aloud here) in which Punchinello and the other Wemmicks stick stars and dots on each other—stars for good performance, dots for bad. I always felt sorry for the little wooden people, seemingly so at the mercy of each other’s ratings.
I don’t think I live in Wemmicksville. My friends are far more gracious to me than I deserve. And I am usually loyal to them. What troubles me is my tendency to put stars and dots on myself. (Why?)
The result quickly becomes an unending readjustment of personal worth—a Dow Jones of the soul, with constantly changing values and unstable assessments.
Some days the Dow Jones plummets.
Today Ryan and I each successfully sold something we built from scratch. He was publicly valued at $875—the kingpin of the entire sale. I was valued at $32.50—an insignificant blip on the radar.
I was SO proud of Ryan. I couldn’t stop smiling. His success is a gift to me, one I prize and wouldn’t trade. And the sale was tons of fun.
Do I have marketable skills?
Does it matter?
It’s not that his oversold and mine undersold. I think the buyers paid a fair price for each. It’s that the sale highlighted the difference between us. I can’t even imagine being worth $875. Nothing in the world that I create could bring that dollar. I feel claustrophobic, publicly cemented in my role as the feminine dabbler-on-the-side while the men do the heavy lifting.
You can say, Dollars aren’t the only sign of worth, you know, and that is true. But my mothering and cooking and dabbling is not more important (read: normally less important) than his fathering and pastoring and breadwinning.
The main role of my life is to empower him and my children to go forth into the world, to conquer, to create, to smite …
Am I okay with living my life as a behind-the-scenes enabler?
I want to be! but most of the time I am not.
If all the women of the world empower others (but accomplish nothing else), and their daughters grow up to empower others (but accomplish nothing else), when do the women of the world do great things?
You see I do have feminist leanings. I am struggling with these questions a lot lately, frustrated by the fact that God gave me gifts that do not help in the role He called me to. In fact, some of the strengths He gave make it extremely difficult to enter the life He gave. Independence. Love of solitude. Passion for words and thought. Desire to explore.
His placing me in this position of chaotic silencing tempts me to believe He doesn’t value them either.
I have a beautiful home to tend. Sewing and growing projects. A blog. All of these are catharses for me, healing places to direct my swirling energies, but I wonder if they are ways I reject what I’ve been given? ways to raise the Dow Jones?
Jesus told me a very sweet secret the other morning when I didn’t know how to come to him… a secret that left me sobbing in the shower. I will share it, but it needs more background. And it doesn’t fix it all.
For now, the questions hang in dissonance, like pounding rain, and an aching throat, and the tears and snot I rubbed onto Ryan’s shoulder.
This post feels so selfish that I hate to share it. But maybe you wonder about these things too?