Faith – the great equalizer
I need to work through some insecurity issues. Bear with me. Better yet…work through your own with me. Because chances are, you suffer too.
I’m not a bad writer, but I’m far from the best. I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I’m no expert on anything. I love my family, friends, and fellow man, but I’m still as self-centered as the next person (yes, that was an attempt to paint you with the same brush so you won’t judge me). My life and achievements are mediocre and there’s not much potential for any future greatness. I should be okay with that.
And often I am. But sometimes it makes me feel as though I’m not as valuable as those who surpass me in talent, skill, and accomplishments.
Valuable to whom?
Who said that? 🙂 Let me just interject here that if you don’t have a blog yet, you should consider starting one. A well-kept diary or journal would work too. Because until we are forced to express, in real words that others can understand, what we actually think and feel, we may not really know what we think and feel. Or you could pay the big bucks to a psychologist, who will mostly just listen while you are forced to express what you actually think and feel.
So, expressing my feelings about not being as valuable, even if only to myself, prompted an important question (that any good psychologist would ask…at $100 an hour). Valuable to whom? Whom do I need to impress to feel that my life is a success? That my existence is profitable? Have you ever asked yourself that? Is worth to be found in the quality of those who find me valuable, i.e. influential and admired persons or those whom we value, i.e. our loved ones, or the quantity of them? Is my worth based on who finds me valuable or how many? Something tells me it’s neither.
I’m grateful to have family and friends who I know would miss me if I suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. That is an encouragement to me. I’m sure you do too. Does it feel sometimes like that’s not enough though? When others are receiving accolades, admiration, and attention that you covet? Uh-oh…there’s that word. I just checked to be sure, and…yup…the 10th commandment does say, “Thou shalt not covet…anything that is thy neighbor’s.” Busted.
Okay. So it follows from that that I am to be content with my lot…with the talents and opportunities I have, and not whining about and yearning for (coveting) the talents and opportunities someone else has. But is it fair that he is a thousand times smarter than I or that she has ten times as many blog followers? Hmmm.
A good and loving father is going to want to bless all his children equally. So why does a good and loving God bestow talent, beauty, and opportunity so disproportionately? Could it be those aren’t the kind of blessings that really matter? Let’s think this through.
Why do I want to be smarter and a better and more popular writer? If I’m being totally honest with myself, it’s so that I will get more recognition and praise. And that would feel really good…for awhile. But would it really satisfy long-term? I think of the multitude of celebrities whose fame and achievements aren’t enough to keep them out of rehab, or the divorce attorney’s office.
And I covet more opportunities because that translates to more income which means more material possessions. I think I would like that. But consider how dissatisfied the average American is even though compared to the majority of the world’s population, we are extremely wealthy. I am extremely wealthy.
What counts as being blessed anyway? The word translated “blessed” in the New Testament can also mean “happy” and that fits. We count as blessings things that make us happy. But two people with the exact same socio-economic status can be poles apart on the happiness scale. And there are folks in this world with little to call their own who exude joy and contentment.
So I’ve gone from exploring insecurities about my worth to considering the nature of happiness. And I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s really all about attitude. Well, maybe not all. It’s also about submission and obedience. I know that I am of great worth to God simply because I am his child. As a mother, I understand that completely. His love for me is not contingent upon attaining a minimum standard of achievement. But he does expect me to receive whatever gifts he has chosen to give me with thankfulness, and use and enjoy them in a way that honors him. If I am coveting anything, even a greater significance, it demonstrates dissatisfaction with him and his blessings. But if with a grateful heart I do my best to use the talents and opportunities he gives to serve him, he is pleased and I can be genuinely content in knowing that.
Truly, knowledge of God is the great equalizer. If there is no God, you have no inherent worth because you exist utterly by chance, without design or purpose. You must establish your own value through relationships, work, and achievements. But there will always be some of greater worth than you.
In the real world however, knowing God and being known by him is the ultimate determinant of worth and is available to all equally, regardless of talent, status, or achievements. It trumps everything else…wealth, fame, earthly significance…and is realized by humble and simple faith. That’s it.
I think I feel secure now. How about you?
You really expressed my heart here….great, honest and vulnerable words, Caroline. Thank you.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Beth. It blesses me to know God used me to give expression to what others are feeling also. And to reveal kindred hearts. 🙂
I beg to differ Caroline. People create meaning in their lives, believers or non believers. Some create this meaning by believing in a transcendent being and others like me who see life as inherently without meaning and absurd creating that meaning through work, relationships and whatever else a person finds worthwhile bit this does not make the life any less important. In fact, it can be said the person who believes in god will always think they are doing less than what their potential is and are likely to be guilt ridden than the non believer.
Besides theist or non theist can and always feel inadequate. They say don’t compare yourself with others for there will be always greater people and lesser people,which will make you feel inadequate and vain respectively and this applies across the board.
If this is the determination of self worth, then it is an absurd way to determine. You or anyone I have heard has defined what they mean by god and then proceeded to show that this god so defined exists and must care about the believer.
Faith is a suspension of reason. If god were self evident as most of you want to believe, faith wouldn’t be required.
Makagutu – I agree that everyone, theists and non- alike, can “create” their own meaning. It’s pretty much what I said – we can form relationships and find work that contributes to society. But what if the relationships fall apart? What if we become disabled and can’t work, or our employer replaces us with someone younger and cheaper? What if everything that we have depended on to give meaning to our lives crumbles? And even if it doesn’t, my point is that, on that basis, you do not have as much worth as others. And that’s a discouraging thought. You don’t have inherent worth; you have acquired worth.
And if having inherent worth because we were created by God in his image and loved by him is “absurd,” it follows that any father’s love for his children simply because they are his, is absurd as well.
This is not a logical conclusion. The children have evidence of the existence of their father, no one has any for any god. So the belief in god is based on insufficient to no evidence.
I disagree with you again on the basis of the examples you give in the first paragraph. The theist thinks god gives their life meaning, it is not something inherent. I couldn’t ask my daughter about it and get an answer. There is no truth in your assertion. Even god believers of whatever stripe become hopeless and find their lives meaningless, this has nothing to do with the existence or non existence of god for that matter.
You have misunderstood and/or misrepresented my statement. Whether the children have evidence of the existence of the father or not, they have great worth to him because they are his children. One can imagine a child kidnapped as an infant and living with the kidnappers as their own, not knowing of her true father, though he has tirelessly been searching for her for years.
I presume, then, that you believe my assessment of inherent self-worth is absurd because you don’t believe God exists.
As the title of my blog reveals, I believe Christianity is a reasonable faith. We have good reason to believe he exists. You disagree with our conclusions from the evidence…I get that. But to assert that we have “insufficient to no evidence” is not addressing the issue honestly. Faith is not “a suspension of reason” but rather a decision to commit to a belief based on evidence which is insufficient to leave no room for doubt. I suspect that you would not categorize the faith the average atheist has in Darwinism or any of the origin of life theories the same way. And it IS faith; you have insufficient evidence to leave no room for doubt.
It’s true that believers may feel hopeless and despairing, but that does not mean that their lives are actually meaningless, only that they feel that way.
Caroline, please point out to me where I misunderstood you.
In this case if I understand you correctly, you equate god belief to a person looking for a lost parent? In my earlier contention I said, you can’t compare the two and it seems to me you are repeating the mistake here again.
Yes, your conception of an inherent self worth tied to the existence of god is absurd and untenable. You can believe it true but I don’t buy it.
How am i not addressing the issue honestly when i say you have
insufficientto no evidence. Show me the evidence and I will adjust my position until then I will stand with the assertion there is no evidence for the existence of a god worse so the Abrahamic god.
Faith is suspension of reason. You believe as you can, you have no choice about it. Try for just a moment believing there is a cow that runs on petrol and tell me how much you can hold that belief.
And please no fallacy of equivocation, you are not using faith here in the same sense as a christian believes they will go to heaven, a position one can only hope to prove once they are dead. The Atheist or any intelligent believer accepts evolution, notice i don’t use the word faith, because it is the best explanation we have to explain how life has progressed in our universe and until a better and more compelling explanation is arrived it, we will have evolution. So no we don’t have faith in evolution, it is a position that can be changed should new evidence be found to best explain the phenomena!
There are Atheists who may not agree with me, but i think life is inherently meaningless for everyone. It is also absurd. Question is, once you are here what do you do? To imagine a purpose is to presume a designer, so what does this designer want of you? If it is unending servitude, then you are a serf and he is a slave master!
Mak (do you mind if I call you Mak?) – I was drawing a contrast between inherent worth that we don’t earn or strive for, and worth based on what we do or how we please or benefit others. And I compared inherent worth to a father’s love for his child simply because she is his child, irrespective of anything else, to make the point that our inherent worth because we are “children” of God is not absurd, as you seemed to be saying it was. Your response about a child knowing that her father exists does not seem to me to address my point, that’s why I gave my kidnapped child example, because a child’s awareness of her father does not affect her worth in his sight. I guess I haven’t been expressing myself well enough.
Your (and others’) insistence that theists have “no evidence” for the existence of God is “not addressing the issue honestly” because you are ignoring the evidence which has led millions of intelligent people to believe God exists though they have never seen him. This evidence consists basically of: the fact that the universe and everything in it came into being and everything that began to exist has a cause, the obvious appearance of design and intelligence in creation and the most reasonable explanation for that is that someone with intelligence designed it, the existence of objective morality which necessitates a moral lawgiver, and the historical reliability of the Bible which reveals God’s interaction with men. You may disagree with our conclusions from the evidence, but to say we have none is untrue and unfair.
I can substitute “accepts” for “faith” for the theistic position as well, and it would mean virtually the same thing, as I have defined faith above. You accept evolution because you believe it is the “best” explanation for the presence and diversity of life…”until a better and more compelling explanation” is found. You acknowledge right there that what you hold to be true now is not without its deficiencies and leaves room for doubt. But you believe it, even though you know you can’t answer all the questions, and can’t prove all that Darwinism claims as fact. Such as, that all life began in a “primordial soup.” That can never be replicated and so cannot be proved. No man, with intent and intelligence, has ever been able to create life from non-life, nor have we ever observed new species arising from the random mutations in a different species by chance and time. But you believe anyway.
The designer wants a love relationship with us. But sin mars that relationship and is a barrier to it. So our loving designer works to rid us of it and free us from its power, until he restores the world to its original design and we will be free from sin’s presence as well.
He IS our master, and we are his slaves. We belong to him and are subject to him. When you recognize how infinitely greater he is than us, you know it can’t be any other way. But he is a loving Master, and that makes all the difference.
Am fine being called Mak.
I don’t want to continue this discussion farther for one main reason that no matter what I say you are likely to take the faith position.
Primordial soup is an idea expounded by creationists and apologists like C.S Lewis, and not any biologist. There is nothing wrong with doubt. It allows room to find out more.