That’s me. Useless. Worthless. Incapable of measuring up, of succeeding at…anything.
These are the thoughts and attitudes I have had nagging at me for pretty much my entire life. I’m not sure exactly why, but I have a few ideas about that.
I am adopted. My bio Mom approached my folks when she was pregnant to ask if they would consider the adoption. So, not only was I “chosen” by my parents, my parents were “chosen” by my birth mother. I grew up knowing of the adoption, and my parents always made sure I honored my mother, even if at the time I did not know who she was; that she had made some very difficult choices under very difficult circumstances in order to see me thrive in a home that I couldn’t have had otherwise. I looked up my biological family a few years ago, and it has proven to be wonderful. My adoption and bio family will, in all likelihood be topics of future blogs, but for now I offer it as background.
I cannot speak for all adoptees, but in my case it was difficult on only a couple of fronts. My parents were fantastic, and I am so grateful to have been their son. I did, however, sometimes wonder why my mother had given me up. I knew from my folks that it was for good reasons, but still I wondered. And part of that, I think, lead me to wonder if I somehow didn’t measure up. If somehow, it was my fault that I wasn’t found “worthy.”
Growing up it was generally unspoken, but I knew much was expected of me. I rather coasted through school, with mostly B’s on my report cards, with a couple C’s and A’s thrown in. It was sufficient, if not outstanding. My behavior was good, no real delinquency apparent, and I was kind of a “church kid.” But for some reason I was always striving for more, better, faster, funnier (not attained by studying, are you serious? Get real!). I just knew that I kind of disappointed, that I didn’t quite bring home what was expected.
I remember one time, my Grandmother was visiting, and she was standing by the upstairs stairway talking to my Dad. She turned to me, and looking at me said, “If you ever go to jail, it would kill your parents.” I laughed at the time, and made light of it, but that has stuck with me for over forty years.
I have worked hard to be approved of by authority figures as long as I can remember. Not to suck up in an Eddie Haskell kind of way (for you children under thirty, that would be a Leave it to Beaver reference, Eddie being an insincere flatterer), but to perform so that I would be found acceptable. And that is hard work. In my case, I could never do well enough at any given task to satisfy my thirst for excellence. No, that isn’t quite correct. In truth, I could never do well enough to satisfy my need for perfection. And therein lies the rub.
Any time that I failed at a task (and in my personal lexicon, the word fail means that I didn’t do it perfectly; I didn’t do it “right.”) the words “idiot!” and “moron!” would ring through my head like the words of a relentless, cold judge pronouncing sentence on a convicted felon. Over and over, time after time, year after year.
And if this sounds like I’m whining, I do not intend it as such. I am merely relating how I have lived for most of my life, and actually for as long as I can remember.
I serve a loving God, one who has sent his Son to save me from myself. And through Christ’s sacrifice, I am whole, unspoiled, in a love relationship with my God and my King. I think of Jesus as Boromir thought of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. I look at Jesus and see “my brother, my Captain, my King.” And intellectually I know that all is forgiven, all is forgotten. I know that God has chosen to forget my failures, my imperfections. But I seldom feel it. Idiot! Moron!! FAILURE!!
Beth and I are currently on Grand Cayman for a long anticipated vacation, with some of our favorite people in the entire world. And this is paradise. We have relaxed (I read a book! Due to responsibilities, I cannot tell you the last time I had a chance to read), gotten in some amazing scuba dives, and spent some fantastic time together. But even here I have had some roadblocks. We got a flat tire. Idiot! I have lost my cool a couple times. Moron!! I have been short with Beth once or twice. FAILURE!!
I love the ocean. When we are at the shore, I customarily park myself near the shore and just experience that point where wind, water and land meet. I feel small, and yet comforted at the same time. It is one of the few times I feel content.
One of my favorite things to do when vacationing at the ocean shore is to have my devotional time on the sand or on a balcony where I can see the ocean, hear it, smell it. Where I can feel the breeze and see the waves, the colors, the horizon. I have done so this week, and devotions have been good. However, I have felt a nagging “something” that I could not pinpoint. I have been looking to God to help me let go of…whatever this is. And I think today I have a clue.
I decided to not open my Bible to a particular passage to read this morning. Instead, I really felt led to focus on a bookmark entitled “My Identity/Who I am in Christ” which contains a number of key passages under various headings. (The bookmark is published by Freedom in Christ Ministries, and as far as I know can be obtained at www.freedominchrist.com.)
Under the first heading, “I am Accepted,” it starts out with John 1:12; I am God’s child. Comforting, but not awe-inspiring. Ok, next, John 15:15: I am Christ’s friend. Huh. That’s right, I had forgotten that. Christ looks at me as His friend. Friends with the creator of the universe? Nice. And so on for several more verses.
The next heading, “I am Secure,” was the crux of the time I spent this morning. And it only took the first verse to shock my system like a glass of ice-cold water after mowing the lawn on a hot August day. It came from Romans 8:1-2, and it told me that “I am forever free from condemnation.” And I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at the water and the waves, the perfect blue skies with perfect white clouds, and whispered, “How can you not condemn me, Lord? I condemn myself!” And as I pondered that, I felt the merest touch of God’s finger deep inside me, and He answered me and He said to me, “How can you condemn yourself when I do not?” Loved! Cleansed!! ACCEPTED!! NOT condemned. NOT a failure. But a child of the Master.
Useless? Yeah, probably. Left to oneself, one can live four score years, and by strength of will maybe a bit more. For what? To accomplish a bit, die, and after a time, be forgotten. But not so in Christ. I am not condemned. I am loved, I am accepted, and I am paid for, purchased with the most precious commodity in the world: the priceless blood of Christ, shed for any of us who recognize our hopelessness, and who long for something more. Christ’s blood shed for me.
I expect I will still struggle with the relentless judge, pronouncing sentence upon me, with the words “Idiot, moron, failure. Useless!!” But I don’t have to listen to the accuser. I can rest in the promise, and wrap myself in the truth. I am not condemned!
What a great vacation.