by Bo Sanchez
In his entire four years in college, John never had a grade lower than A.
The young man was about to graduate summa cum laude.
His parents were thrilled.
But before graduating, the unthinkable happened: John killed himself.
The news shocked the entire university.
How could this happen?
John left a suicide note that gave clues.
In the letter, he wrote, “I just couldn’t measure up to the standards of this world. Perhaps in the next world I can do better.”
I’ve met a lot of people who are plagued by this dreaded feeling of inadequacy. It’s as if there was this hidden monster that ate them up from the inside. This inner demon tells them, again and again, “There’s something wrong with you.”
They believe they’ll never be beautiful enough. Or rich enough. Or successful enough. Or happy enough. Or sexy enough. Or holy enough.
No matter what they do, they’ll never be a great husband, or a great wife, or a great father, or a great mother.
This nagging feeling of inadequacy is the air they breathe. It colors the way they look at themselves, at life, at the world.
I call it the pandemic of worthlessness. According to a poll, eight out of ten millennials feel they are not good enough. This study of two thousand twenty-two to thirty-eight-year-olds revealed how they feel overwhelmed because they can’t measure up.
This Emotion That Defined Me
I know the disease of worthlessness very well.
Because I was molested as a child.
And it destroyed my life.
For many years, I would wake up already feeling uneasy. Something was gnawing at me, like a dull blade scraping my insides.
I couldn’t put my finger on what I felt. On the surface, it was a mixture of fear, or even fright, plus sadness, or even depression. It was terribly confusing.
But one day, I suddenly realized I hit the nail on the head.
I knew the predominant feeling of my life.
I had a name for the cancer eating my soul. Every morning, I woke up feeling ashamed.
I was ashamed of myself.
I was ashamed of who I was.
This shame is the most common characteristic of people who have been abused. Or those who have been badly hurt. Or those who failed repeatedly—whether in their relationships, in school, in work, in business, even in their spiritual life.
Psychologists call it a shame-based personality.
That was me.
That was my world.
Every single day.
Sadly, my early religiosity worsened this feeling of worthlessness.
I’ve been a religious leader for more than four decades, but in the first decade, I was uptight, rigid, and legalistic. Because my image of God was also uptight, rigid, and legalistic.
Here’s the truth: We relate to others according to our image of God. Because we become the God that we worship.
My life revolved around trying to fulfill very high spiritual expectations to gain God’s approval. Inwardly, I felt worthless before others and before God.
But one day, love intervened.
Learning to Relax in God’s Love
For years, the real God gently whispered into my heart, telling me, “Son, you’re very good. Relax in My love.”
This radical idea was so foreign to me, I wondered if this was God at all. How dare He tell me to relax? How dare He say I was worthy of love even before I do anything good?
Slowly, I discovered that God wasn’t uptight, rigid, or legalistic.
Even now, after three decades, I’m still learning this thing called “worth.” You don’t get worth. You already have it.
By the mere fact that you exist.
By the fact that you’re alive.
By the fact that you were created by God, you’re somebody! You’re special. You’re a treasure. You’re precious. You’re His masterpiece. You’re the crown of His creation. You’re His child. You’re His Prince and Princess. You’re the love of His life.
Do you believe that the book of Genesis, written three thousand years ago, can speak to our most pressing problems today?
Read more about it from our newest book, God Made You Good.