Do You Ever Feel Unworthy?

I’m going to write something today that is intensely personal, but for a reason – to demonstrate the kindness and love of God.

I finally had that “penny-drop” moment this morning (it’s about time) where I realised something about myself – possibly this is true for many others – and about my relationship with God.

Experiencing The Love of God

Although I KNOW perfectly well, from the bible, that God exercises unconditional love, and does not look upon his children as sinners, I only knew that in my mind.

However, my emotional relationship has been one of feeling I never quite matched up to God’s expectations, nor deserved his love.

It’s hard to describe, but when I pictured myself finally kneeling before the Lord in Heaven, my overriding feeling would be of shame, repentance, asking for forgiveness, making apologies for having failed in so many ways during my life – and of needing God’s forgiveness.

I’ve carried that around without really thinking about it or examining it. However this morning while walking across the kitchen BOOM I suddenly realised how wrong it was.

Earlier Experiences

First I’m going to backtrack to the 1980s when my parents were alive (they are both dead now or I would not be sharing all this) and during one of my phone call conversations with my mother I was sharing the latest news about my job, and other things that I felt would make her pleased and proud, and the response was as usual a blank. Nothing moved her to praise or even acceptance.

That was my first penny drop moment and I remember it well. Standing there with the phone in my hand I suddenly realised: nothing you do or say or who you are is EVER going to elicit praise, so why are you knocking yourself out, spending all your days in this vain fruitless attempt to obtain it?

Give it up Tricia, it’s never going to happen. Just accept it.

To some extent afterwards I did, with my mother at least, and it was a major step forward in my personal life. Shortly after that experience I drew this cartoon to express on paper the situation, albeit in a humorous and silly way.

I tried to show (this was merely for my own benefit) in the cartoon that no matter what I did my parents would be so self-absorbed and heedless of my life and circumstances, so wrapped up in their own lives, that they did not have the capability to “see me”.

The Aim was Acceptance

You see my parents were good, hardworking, down to earth people. They were generous, respectable and humble. They were also from a different era where the idea of “loving” children the way parents do today was not so prevalent, and the job was to raise your children as proper, upstanding, respectful, helpful, kind and good people.

I don’t know if it was general at the time, or just in our family, but there were no hugs, spoken words of love or praise, but getting on with the job and “doing your best” was the aim.

As long as you conformed to the (many) rules, stayed quiet, and did your job you were acceptable. That is as close to understanding “love” that I came as a child, indeed also in later life.

But further, I would say that I never thought about or aimed for “love” as a child, but trying to reach acceptance was hard enough, and I failed at that too. I was never (and could never) be good enough.

What is Love

I never really understood or experienced unconditional love, nor even forgiveness, because my mother in particular bore many grudges over the year – which she vocalised to me and everyone else – about how much I’d failed to live up to her expectations.

Nothing I was or did was good enough.

When she died of a heart attack suddenly, at her funeral my father added to her list of complaints, on her behalf, by telling me in front of the family that I had killed her, it was my fault, because I’d failed her.

Thus, in my subconscious and emotions, love became about doing good and being acceptable, living up to the mark. Doing what you’re told.

I think it crippled me, emotionally, because inside I was a passionate and deep-feeling person who longed desperately to give and receive love. Yet that didn’t come into my life – until I met Jesus!!

The Love of God

I hardly need say (because many of you already know) that the perfect love of God and HIS acceptance is life-changing.

It certainly became the bedrock of my new life as a Christian, and without his ever-present comfort and upholding, as well as the complete forgiveness of my sins, I don’t think I would have made it this far.

Carrying Around the Failure

However, the underlying experience in my childhood and earlier life had changed me mentally so profoundly that (as I now realise) I accepted the love of God conditionally, believing deep down somewhere that I had to earn or deserve his love. (And also, could never do so.)

Although my doctrine and mental/spiritual beliefs are that God forgives us on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus, and not because of anything we can be or do, nonetheless at some place in my psyche the idea of earning it by becoming a good acceptable obedient child had influenced me, to such an extent that I never really felt fully able to rejoice in God love, without feeling a tinge of shame.

I realise that this is the difference between law and faith. We are not made righteous by law, but by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

Galatians 2:16
“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, … since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

Ephesians 2:4-9
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great LOVE with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, …(8) For by grace you have been saved through FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

No Boasting

If salvation was by doing good and being acceptable then we might have reason to boast. I don’t want to boast, but I have always wanted to repay God’s love and trust in me by being better than I am.

A hopeless task, because no matter how hard I try I always fall short of what He demands. (And so does everyone else, but in my head there’s only me, and God).

I go back to being that child that didn’t do the washing up, or argued back, or failed to understand a rule. As a supposedly naughty child, falling short at every moment, because nothing was ever “good enough”, how could I ever be “loved” or “praised” or be acceptable?

As I mentioned earlier, most of my life was spent in a heartbreaking and fruitless attempt to win praise and acceptance from my parents, until I realised it was an entirely hopeless task, so for sanity’s sake I had to give up trying, accept the inevitable, walk away and try to live my life as best I could without that.

However, that attitude spilled over into my relationship with God. I could hardly imagine him praising me, let alone accepting me, knowing how far I fell short of his desires and requirements.

By the way, I am talking about human feelings here, not faith. By faith, in my inner person, I believed (and do believe) all that I read in the bible about God’s acceptance.

How to get that faith that dwelt in the inward person into my mind and emotions as well? Ah, that’s the tricky part!

It’s Not About You

That is where this morning’s revelation (thank you Lord) came into play. Having had a new and deeper understanding not only of God’s all-encompassing love, but of my unworthiness NOT being a factor in it, I can I begin to build upon a deeper faith that I AM “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6)

Ephesians 1:6 “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.”

To state the obvious, we are not saved by God from punishment and death (due for our sins) because we have somehow become law-abiding, perfect, sinless beings worthy of forgiveness. NO. We are saved only because God the Father LOVES us so much he was willing to send his Son, in the form of Adam, to die as a sacrifice for sins, washing us clean in his own blood.

That is so amazing that it’s hard to grasp, but nonetheless it’s true. You and I did nothing towards salvation, and our relationship with God is simply because we believed, and accepted, his grace.

Our salvation does not consist in ourselves, one way or the other (although of course knowing God and becoming His means we change inside and start to desire better things).

No, our redemption means we were “bought back” that is, redeemed, from the grasp of Satan and now belong to God’s household instead. WE had nothing to do with that, then or now – for…

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. [Romans 5: 6-10]

That fact is SO very great that the human mind cannot fully grasp it, yet I know it to be true. So from today I will endeavour by his power to go before him confident of my acceptance in Jesus, and God’s LOVE for me.

Wow. That takes my breath away!

Noone Understands Like Jesus

(Excuse me wiping the tears from my eyes as I listen to this again. How can we EVER comprehend the depths of God’s love and forgiveness, and understanding!! I am acceptable, I am loved.

No I am not worthy and I never will be, but God’s love saved me, and encompasses me, and lifts and restores me regardless. I love him with all my heart and soul. In so many ways he has saved me, and today is just one more example of his healing love.)

No one Understands Like Jesus

1) No one understands like Jesus;
He's a Friend beyond compare.
Meet Him at the throne of mercy;
He is waiting for You there.

No one understands like Jesus
When the days are dark and grim.
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus;
Cast Your every care on Him.

2) No understands like Jesus;
Every woe He sees and feels.
Tenderly He whispers comfort,
And the broken heart He heals.

3) No one understands like Jesus
When the foes of life assail.
You should never be discouraged;
Jesus cares and will not fail.

4) No one understands like Jesus
When you falter on the way.
Though you fail Him, sadly fail Him,
He will pardon You today.

3 thoughts on “Do You Ever Feel Unworthy?

  1. Thanks Tricia. So many of us who Jesus has saved have the same background. I’ve been very similar to you in carrying the ‘not quite convinced I’m worthy’ sometimes in prayer or sharing with the Lord. Your sharing is a wake up call for me to be more aware of His perspective. Blessings dear sister in Jesus.


  2. Thank you so much Tricia for sharing this much timely message. Knowing Jesus is coming soon, I like you struggle wanting to be ready to go to be with him. I think I used to feel closer to him I used to be able to attend church. However church has gone so off track that I haven’t been in about 25 years. I still read my Bible and pray and seek his face, but I don’t feel his presence like I used to. I think the key word is we don’t go by feelings, and that’s what I’ve been trying to achieve, his presence. But we are not to go by that we are to stand on his word. You greatly touched my heart as I feel exactly what you feel and have been through so much with my parents not feeling loved. Thanks again for your time and message God bless you Sister


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