rebelling against low expectations

What Feeling Inadequate Taught Me About My True Worth

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I was sitting at a table at our church youth camp talking with a couple of the camp counselors. One counselor was just a couple of years older than me and just starting college. As I sat there, I overheard him speaking with another student about his participation in a high school robotics competition.

As he talked he began to elaborate on his accomplishments, a near perfect SAT score, athletic triumphs, and future aspirations. I instantly felt the nudges of anxiety and inadequacy as I mentally compared my own successes and goals.

The SAT score I had been so proud of achieving seemed pathetic. I’m in shape but I’ve never done well with sports. My dream of becoming a youth counselor melted to insignificance like butter under a hot knife. My own goals suddenly seemed so small-minded in comparison.

I felt an overwhelming sense of failure and self-doubt. It was not a new feeling. And so began yet another vicious cycle of seeking self-affirmation in my achievements, the drive to do better, to aim higher, to push beyond my limitations.

That was over a year ago now. A lot has happened since then. The memory still lingers, but what I have discovered over the past year has taught me a lot about what truly matters and what gives me true meaning and purpose.

What I have discovered over the past year has taught me a lot about what truly matters and what gives me true meaning and purpose. Click To Tweet

But I should first add that I still struggle with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. I’m not perfect by a long shot, no matter how much I want to be. If you can relate to feeling like you don’t have it altogether, I have some good news for you. But we’ll have to start at a seemingly discouraging place to understand it.

What is Hevel?

The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament seems like one of the most depressing books of the Bible because it constantly talks about the meaninglessness of life. Yep, I had that sinking feeling in my gut too. Hang in there!

Ecclesiastes uses the Hebrew word “Hevel” which refers to smoke or vapor to illustrate its main point: Life is hevel under the sun. In other words, life is hevel in a world without God. But what makes this book so depressing is also what makes this book one of my favorite books of the Bible. Here’s why.

Ecclesiastes uses the Hebrew word “Hevel” which refers to smoke or vapor to illustrate its main point: Life is hevel under the sun. Click To Tweet

The world will tell you that you can get along without God. It will tell teens that their worth is found in their SAT scores, winning competitions, high GPA’s, their boyfriends, their girlfriends, their clothes, their looks, their hair, their makeup, and so forth. To the world, this is all that matters.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 says, “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” James 4:14 expounds on these lines: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

In this world, having high grades, scores, talents, and gifts won’t save you. They are hevel.

In this world, whether rich or poor, short or tall, black or white, it won’t save you. It is hevel.

In this world, rules, commands, and jumping hoops won’t save you. They are hevel.

Only Jesus can save you.

Our Meaning Is Found In Christ

Sometimes, when we truly come to terms with that truth, it is terrifying to think about. We can’t control our lives to do the right things and save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. This is the terrifying beauty and glory of the cross.

But brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the good news: Because of Christ, you are not hevel—you are not meaningless. Because of Christ, your life matters. You are meaningful. You are significant. You are complete.

Because of Christ, your life matters. You are meaningful. You are significant. You are complete. Click To Tweet

We are made in the image of God with intrinsic value and worth and dignity. Each person was created by God with talents, gifts, and beauty. But they only truly matter when we bring them to God and let him use them.

What The World Sells And What Jesus Offers Us

This world will give you a yoke that will bind you, a burden that will crush you, a chain that will shackle you. But when you finally see the chain as it truly is—as hevel—it becomes the thing that frees you. Because once you recognize that the burdens this world tries to place on you are meaningless, you can search out the One who can give you true meaning and purpose.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We serve and adore an infinite Lord, who gives us infinite worth and purpose. There is so much stress and pressure found when we hold our lives with a clenched fist. There is so much joy and relief found when we open our hands and give control to God.

There is so much joy and relief found when we open our hands and give control to God. Click To Tweet

In this life, we must constantly jump through the hoops the world sets before us. But don’t put your meaning in those hoops or in how well you perform. Don’t put your meaning in how well you compare to others around you. Seek your meaning in Jesus Christ.

About the author

Emily Williams

is a 17-year-old senior who lives in Southern Arizona. She has a passion for Christian theology and politics and she loves good discussions on both. She plans to attend Grand Canyon University in the near future to major in Sociology and minor in Pre-Law. She spends her free time hanging out with her family and friends or curling up in a corner with some iced tea, dark chocolate, and a book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →

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