For the majority of my 30 years on this earth, I’ve lived like I have something to prove.
When I was a child, my mom’s drug addiction and criminal record motivated this drive to prove myself. I needed to set myself apart from her. I needed to show everyone that I wasn’t like her, that I would never be like her, and that I would make something of myself in spite of her.
Then, when I was a teenager, I felt like I had something to prove to my friends. Most of my friends were children of two-parent households whose moms and dads were wealthy, white collar paper-pushers in the oil industry. I came from a broken, single-parent home and my dad was a blue collar machinist and welder. I had a voice inside my head constantly telling me that I didn’t belong. I wasn’t on their level.
So, I took all the honors classes to show that I was as smart or smarter. I joined the choir to show my talent. I was constantly striving to prove that I fit in. I drifted from social group to social group throughout the 4 years of high school, trying to figure out whether I was a punk non-conformist, an artsy free thinker, or a brainy do-gooder (this is where I actually fit). I often felt like an imposter. I always felt less than.
My low self-worth motivated many of my decisions in early adulthood. What I studied in college, my career choices and even social decisions were impacted by this incessant need to prove something. I’m not even sure who I felt like I needed to prove myself to – but there was this invisible audience inside my head telling me that until I accomplished this task, reached this status, achieved this goal (and these mile-markers shifted and changed) then I wasn’t enough.
It’s like a neverending court scene, where I stand before this invisible jury hoping for a verdict of victory.
And let me tell you, living like you have something to prove is exhausting. The weight of the expectations is crushing. There is no joy in this kind of living. Disappointment abounds. Comparison robs you of contentment.
Since moving back to my hometown, those old insecurities from my youth are trying to wedge their way back into my thoughts. Those friends whose parents worked for the local oil corporation are now employed by them instead – and since I don’t, I find myself feeling less than, again.
Living like you have something to prove is exhausting. Disappointment abounds. Comparison robs you of contentment.
But you know what’s beautiful about being 30, instead of 15? You realize something: it’s all so stupid. Whenever those feelings of doubt about my worth or my significance creep into the fringes of my thought life, I have the maturity now to shut it down. I know myself well enough to know that the standard by which those accusing thoughts are trying to measure me are not the standards I care about.
I know I have nothing to prove.
I have nothing to prove because my worth is not in what I own. My significance is not tied up in my status, my title, my career choice or the neighborhood I live in. I am not less than. I am more than. Why?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?….No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 ESV
I am set apart by God. I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. Nothing can take that away from me. It’s mine through Jesus.
The standard by which those accusing thoughts are trying to measure me are not the standards I care about.
So, no matter who my parents are, no matter where I work, no matter what my house looks like or what my children do – Jesus loves me and that is enough. I will chase contentment because the case is closed – Jesus is all the evidence needed. I have nothing to prove.
What about you? Are you living like you have something to prove? Who are you trying to prove yourself to? I’d love to hear your story.