When I was still living in Mississippi, I was blessed to be in a church that had a very active women’s ministry. In addition to our weekly Bible studies and monthly dinner fellowships, the leaders planned and hosted an amazing annual women’s retreat. In late October or early November, between forty and fifty women from our church would descend upon Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman, Mississippi, from Friday to Sunday. The cost of the annual retreat was only $80.00 per person and our women’s ministry would give us opportunities, throughout the year, to earn coupons towards the $80.00 registration fee. One year I worked the bake sale table between our two worship services, which earned me half off the cost of the retreat for that year. Still, the time to pay the remaining $40.00 snuck up on me and I did not have it in time for the retreat. I was telling another church member that I would not be able to attend that year, because I still did not have the $40.00. She went and got Collette*, one of the leaders, and let me explain to Collette why I would not be attending.
After Collette listened, without hesitation she said, “Come, just come.” I said, “Are you sure? I mean, I’m really sorry; I just don’t have the $40.00. I can pay it, after the retreat.” Again, Collette said, “Don’t worry about it. Just come.” I thanked Collette profusely and was excited that I would get to attend our women’s retreat for another year.
Everyone was due to arrive at Camp Wesley Pines on late Friday afternoon. After getting our room assignments we headed to dinner together. I was standing in line in the dining hall and I saw Collette in the kitchen, talking with the catering staff.
Without even realizing it, I found myself trying to stand between the door frames, hoping to melt into the wall so that Collette would not see me. As I took a quick look at my behavior and my self-imposed discomfort, I had to ask myself: “Where did I learn this?”
I was thinking that if Collette talked to me—truly got to know me or learned more about me—that she would realize that she had made a mistake and that I was undeserving of her generosity.
That is the way we sometimes are with our Savior. Jesus says, “Come, just come”. Yet, we waste a lot of time thinking if Jesus talked to us, truly got to know us, or learned more about us, that He would realize that we are undeserving of His graciousness. So, we exhaust ourselves trying to hide ourselves, hoping to melt into the world, not wanting God to see us. So, how do we make our church communities look more like Jesus? What can our church communities do to make people feel valued?
In part two of this two-part series (part 1 found here) on self worth, I encourage us to remember that shame was handled on the cross. When God looks at us, He does not see us covered in the sludge of what we have done or what was done to us. Instead, He sees us through the blood-covered lens of Jesus.