We are born valuable but vulnerable. We have this inherent sense of value for ourselves. As babies, when we were in pain, we cried. When we were hungry, we cried. When we were uncomfortable, we cried. We cried because there was no thought or experience that disconnected us from the truth of our value. We knew what we needed and had no reason to fear asking for it. We also laughed when we thought something was funny or stimulating. Pleasure, happiness, didn’t require a labyrinth of justification. Our value wasn’t something we knew in our heads. It was something we just knew.
A wise friend once told me that our home life does not define our value, but models it. God has already defined my value for me (no one on earth can actually do this) but the purpose of a home, a family, is to treat each other as the valuable people that we are. It’s a valuing that respects the value that already exists. It models respect for my unique abilities, passions, dreams, and obstacles.
My home life was very predictable, very “secure”, very normal. My parents tried to do everything the right way. We went to church, did family devotions, did chores, got allowance, were disciplined for misbehaving. But… something was missing. My whole life I have questioned my value, never felt like my own feelings and thoughts were really good enough, have struggled to even know what my own thoughts and feelings were!
I was not taken advantage of sexually or physically, but I was valued for the wrong things. The real Carla was not valued or engaged with, not asked “do you like this? Do you not like this? What do you think about this? How did that make you feel?” She was told to be good and was valued for being good. She was applauded for being right more than she was for being herself. So, I was a very good child and decided to continue being very good throughout my life so that I would continue to be treated as valuable. The church loved a good girl, as did the private school I graduated from. I sweat blood and tears to be good and right in order to be valued.
Today it is my quest to be the real Carla, the Carla not boxed in or confined by the labels of “good and right.” Somedays it still feels like a very wobbly path because I get my value mixed up with these old skewed definitions. It sometimes feels foreign and uncertain to know and trust my own real feelings because for so long I have tempered them with what is intellectually “good and right.” But our souls can be nurtured back to life. The seeds that have been dormant for years are still there inside of us. With some loving work and nurturing, they will grow. It is happening day by day, re-bridging the gap between what is really true and what I deeply know to be true about me.