This is the power that was unleashed on mankind when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us: we were given visible, tangible, living, breathing evidence of our worth.
In the incarnation of Christ, we witnessed the true character of God–he is Emmanuel—a God who longs to be with his children.
The truth of our worth is wrapped in this revelation of his character. It is his appearing that frees us, the revelation of his person that forms our identity and makes us whole. We have the kind of father who wants us with him always.
Adolphe Adams captured this beautifully when he wrote the lyrics to O Holy Night:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.”
I've spent a good bit of my life attempting to find my worth in how the world responded to me, in whether I was accepted or rejected, praised or condemned—which was an exhausting and often times depressing situation, as one can imagine.
I was graduating college when I first began to realize that beholding Emmanuel is where I find my worth. Since then, it’s taken many creative interventions by God himself to bring me back to this realization. (Thanks, God!)
But as I dig deeper into the depths of his character, I find the things that hold me in bondage begin to lose power. Because at the root of addiction, compulsion, imbalance, and burn out is a weary soul in search of its worth.
In making room for the appearance of Christ in our minds and hearts, we will see freedom springing up in ways we’ve never imagined . . . because a soul that knows its worth is marked by freedom.
Here are few ways this freedom shows up.
Humanity was trapped in “sin and error” because it was longing to understand its worth. We are creatures made with an enormous capacity to love and to be loved, and as such, we don't operate as we should until that need is fulfilled. A soul that knows its worth is freed from a painful search for significance and value, along with the coping mechanisms we use to numb the pain we feel in the absence of these things. Compulsive behaviors that once seemed impossible to control begin to lose their powerful grip in our lives. As we understand our worth, we are no longer prisoners to our vices, and we begin to see a healthy balance forming in our lives.
Perfect love ushers in abundant life. When we know how deeply we are loved, we are freed from the constraints of fear—free to live lives filled with risk and adventure, even in spite of the fear we still may feel. The truth of the Gospel unleashes the reality of heaven all around us . . . and we have the courage and freedom to act in this truth. It could be as simple as asking a stranger to coffee, or as risky as moving your family across the world. It could mean sharing your story in front of a group or jumping into a challenging new career. Regardless of how this courage manifests, a person who knows their worth is a person who truly lives.
The more secure we become in our sense of worth, the more likely we are to cultivate authentic, life-giving relationships with people that we can trust. Knowing our worth means being comfortable with our imperfections. As we understand our identity as loved and wanted children of God, we are more apt to cultivate true intimacy. We are willing to share our deepest longings and most unflattering struggles. We allow others to enter into our darkness and offer us a little bit of light. In this, we see the kingdom of God—the deepest facets of his character are revealed through deep connection in community.
A soul that knows its worth is a soul that seeks to reveal the same truth to others. We have each been given the creative power to make God's love known in the world, but it is only when our basic need to be loved is met that this creative power is fully unleashed. Suddenly, we are storytellers in everything we do—we become painters, writers, teachers, entrepreneurs, musicians, chemists, librarians–you name it— with a message for the world: Christ came for you. And as such, we cannot hold it back. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote, ”His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
In the wake of trials, disappointments, and disillusionments, it is easy to lose sight of what joy even looks like. But when you see a small child, you might remember. You might remember what it was like to have so much trust that you could get lost entirely in a world of play and laughter. Joy comes to us when trust is restored and we can truly embrace what's immediately before us. Joy gives us the power to be fully present wherever we are by resting securely in the love of our Father.
So maybe carve out time this month to soak it all in. Take a walk in the snow, (if you’re lucky enough to have it!) enjoy a meal with loved ones, set out to find the most breathtaking Christmas lights in your city. And remember, all of this was God’s idea. All of these cozy warm moments are a message of love from him to you.
You are worth so much to him.
”A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"