Have you ever been in a situation where your contributions to work, home, marriage, or family were judged as not enough? If your self-worth is attached to what you create or offer, the answer is that you may very well be devastated by a sense of shame that can cause you to withdraw or get angry: “I’m an idiot. That’s the last time I suggest an idea in a meeting” or “My idea may not be great, but it was better than yours!” or “Go ahead and talk to the kids yourself if you think I mishandled it.” Even if people love what you did, you then become a slave to the desire to keep pleasing. Either way, if you define yourself by what you do, you have put the power of your happiness in the hands of other people.
Differentiating what you do from who you are is exactly what God does. Satan knows your true character but calls you by your poor behavior. God knows your sinful behavior but calls you by your true character. God knows the things you do, but has enough mercy to remove the guilt and restore you back to your identity as one beloved.
Remember watching trapeze artists as they swing back and forth twisting, flipping somersault after somersault, while never paying attention to the safety net beneath? Then someone misses the other’s grip and starts falling, eventually bouncing in the net.
The net provides two essential purposes:
1. To keep the one falling from dying (pretty critical idea) and
2. To encourage the one who fell to climb the ladder and try again.
That’s the purpose of God’s grace and mercy:
1. To give us life and
2. To encourage us to live life without fear.
When your identity isn't on the line, you’ll find yourself freer to create, take risks and live your life. Yes, you may be disappointed if people don’t always appreciate your contributions, but it won’t devastate you the way that shame can.
You are not defined by what you do.
You are defined by who you are.
Identify yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... My dark side says, I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” -Henri Nouwen
Grace given, honors our worth as it overlooks our underserving.