Worthy—that’s a pretty hefty word. And we define it in so many different ways.

We demand that we’re worth it with our mouths and yet live the complete opposite in our actions.

We do this because what we view as worthy changes with our circumstances . . .  which in this life, can be often.

In my teenage years, I viewed myself as worthy only if I could accomplish my goals. I NEEDED to go to a good college and get a good job. Something special. Something great.

When I got pregnant at 18, those plans seemed to drift out of reach. So I realigned. Now, my worth would come from how well I could mother this child.

But I couldn’t just be a good mom. I needed to be the best mom this world had ever seen. I somehow needed to reinvent the wheel that was motherhood. And because of previous hurts, I needed to do it all on my own.

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Anytime well-meaning family or in-laws wanted to help I took it as a direct insult. They must not think I can handle this. This is MY daughter. I’ve got this.

But a year later, I had completely worn myself out. I watched my friendsstill out having fun, doing whatever they wantedwhile I fought with my husband about taking out the trash, changed diapers, and washed clothes.

Now, my worth would come from getting back some of my freedom.

I wouldn’t, of course, leave my daughter, but I could leave the man. And so began a year-long effort of walking a very thin line between single mom and free to do whatever I pleased 21-year-old.

When I got married for a second time at 22, my worth changed again. Now, it came from proving I could be a good mom AND a good wife. I stayed at home, had two more babies, and proceeded to homeschool my daughter because mommy knows best, right?

I learned to rock two babies at a time. I could carry a pumpkin seat on one arm and a toddler in another while my 4-year-old held tightly to my belt loop. I baked our own bread and cooked every meal.

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In hindsight, I’m not sure I could have kept going at the pace. I was running myself ragged trying to prove something to someone. But to whom and what . . . we may never know.

And finally, one day, out of the blue . . . it was over. My second marriage ended on a regular Tuesday, right before Christmas, and I was furious. Not necessarily with my ex-husband, not with myself, not with the lawyers and the judges. I was furious with God.

I had worked so hard. And it still didn’t work out.

I had to go back to work. I had to enroll my kids in school. I was no longer a wife. Everything that made me feel worthy was gone. So once again I readjusted to a new life.

This time, though, the things I measured my worth by were a little less noble. My worth now was measured by how many friends I had, how busy I stayed, how many guys tried to talk to me, my new outfit for the bar.

Slowly, this way of life led to a very heavy depression. And I changed my view once again. I needed to get back what I had lost. And as crazy as it sounds, I knew what I needed to be worthy again . . . a husband.

I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I drove that guy almost insane. I just knew if he married me it would be the answer to all my problems. There are no truer words than Garth Brooks’, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”

In all fairness, I wasn’t looking for a man to take care of me. I was looking for someone to take care of. A safety net, yes. But more of someone to fill the space in my heart and nights that felt so lonely. Someone to appreciate me. To love me.

It took me a long time to realize I was looking to outside things to fix an inside problem.

I kept measuring my worth by these incredibly fickle, external circumstances. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there.

Maybe you’ve been looking everywhere you can think to find something that finally quiets that nasty voice in your head. And if you’re like me, the more you look the more that voice just keeps getting louder and louder.

Every time I tried something, I’d just mess up. And that seemed to give the voice more ammunition to use against me. So I’d run harder and faster to the next thing.

I honestly don’t know when it happened. When it finally clicked that I was doing it all wrong. But I can assure you it wasn’t because of anything I was doing right.

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And honestly, it’s still like grabbing sand from the bottom of the ocean. I think I have a grasp on it but the waves pull me back out and take most of the sand with it. I can never quite take hold of it completely. But I don’t let that stop me.

I know now my worth isn’t in what I’ve done or haven’t done. It’s not in whether I’m a wife or not. It’s not in how I choose to educate my children or what kind of bread I feed them. It’s not in my degree or my job. It’s not in who likes me or who doesn’t.

My worth comes simply because God says it. It’s mine simply because He gave it.

I am worthy because of the blood Jesus spilled to make me worthy. There’s no other reason for it.

And the same holds true for you. You are worthy. You don’t have to keep searching for it or chasing after it. You already hold it.

The only thing left to do is live in it. You can’t go back and change things. You can’t go back and undo things. But you can walk away from that striving and simply rest for a while in the knowledge that you are chosen.

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The Lord has a plan for your life. And it’s not a constant battle to fight for your place. It’s tough, sure. But it’s also peaceful.

Because you don’t have to earn it. You just have to own it.

Whatever your past is, whatever your mistakes or failures, you just need to know you are worthy. It’ll break your heart that someone could love you so much. It should. But it will also heal your heart.

The only thing for you to figure out today is whether or not you will accept what the Lord has already done for you. Who He has already made you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It’s as simple and as complicated as allowing your heart to be broken over the only thing that really matters and then allowing the only One who really can heal it.

I know you can do this. I believe in you. Because I believe in me. And if someone like me can be made worthy, I know there’s hope for someone like you.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Veronica Dunkin

Veronica is a freelance writer from Alabama. She is a single mom of three teenagers so she always needs prayers! She loves Jesus, reading, writing, and all things self-help.