Updated: Dec 27, 2021
What determines our worth? Is it our possessions? Our wealth? "Of course not" you may answer.
Well then, is it our career? Our level of education? Our earning potential?
Perhaps, instead, our worthiness of love is determined by how intelligent we are; how funny we are; how kind we are; how considerate we are; how many friends we have; how mature we are; how likable we are?
You may or may not feel, despite your best intentions, that one or more of the above qualities determine the worth of you and those around you.
Perhaps someone loved you less as a child when you did something that hurt another person's feelings, so you learned your worth was determined by how kind you are.
On the other hand, maybe the ability to compete and win was what was emphasized in your home. Maybe it became clear to you over time that if you didn't win then your parents, siblings, or friends would think less of you.
What if you lost the game? What if you didn't make the sports team? What if you didn't get the job you wanted? What if you gave up on something?
You learned that you had to win - at whatever you did - in order to be loved.
It does make sense to love someone conditioned upon whether they have certain qualities or not, doesn't it?
Don't many of us do this?
After the brief discussion above, you may be thinking that personal qualities or characteristics are not a good basis for love. After all, what happens when we don't live up to those expectations?
What if we value ourselves for being kind, but then we lose control and do something mean? What if we value ourselves for being smart, but then we do something stupid? Are we unworthy of love then?
I have a secret to tell you. None of us is one way all the time.
No matter how kind you are, you will eventually hurt someone's feelings, whether on accident or on purpose.
No matter how smart you are, you will eventually do something stupid.
And that is all perfectly acceptable. None of us is immune to inevitable human folly. The best thing we can do is accept it when it happens, learn from it, and appropriately and sincerely apologize for it. Or, depending on the circumstance, laugh openly with others about our completely normal flaws.
After all, what often harms or annoys people the most are not our mistakes themselves, but instead our pride, fear, or anger that keep us from owning those mistakes.
So, what if instead we base love and worth upon the accumulated effects of our life choices?
Aren't our choices the most important thing about us - a reflection of who we are? Sure, we may make a mistake here or there, and that's acceptable, but shouldn't we value ourselves and others based on our overall choices and long-term trends? Don't they show our character and who we are inside? And doesn't that make us better or worse than others in the long-run?
No. It doesn't.
Though we may have the natural inclination to think that the choices and overall trajectory of actions of ourselves and others either bolster or diminish our worth, they do not.
Then, what? How can we possibly determine our worth and the rightness in loving or not loving ourselves and others?
What if worth and worthiness of love were not based on status, qualities, or choices? What if, instead, they were based on things that were infallible and unchangeable?
Our worth is determined by what we are
No matter our qualities, choices, or status, we all have the same worth.
You might be thinking, "But, I choose to be a good person and don't abuse others. That makes me better than those people!"
Yes, it is far better to bring blessings to others than suffering. After all, this is one of the great purposes of life - to learn to uplift and do good, rather than to bring down.
But this does not determine our worth. Our worth is determined by things far more infinite than present, temporary choices.
Our worth is determined not by what we do, but by what we are.
All that we are and can eventually become was a gift given to us by God before this physical existence, and continues to be given every single moment. This is the same for all of us - male and female, bond and free, poor and rich.
We can lay claim on nothing, for we truly own nothing. We each have the same divine makeup, infused with the eternal DNA of God, as children of our Creator. None of us can be worth more or less than another based on what job we have, how kind we are, or even whether our actions cause suffering or blessings for others. These choices don't change what we are.
We cannot add to or take away from our worth
We have nothing to boast of or be prideful about, nor anything which lifts us higher or lower than another. This is because we have been given everything we have and are from God. Without Him, none of it would be.
God offered us progression and incredible, infinite fulfillment. He was an all-powerful, all-benevolent being that simply wanted us to experience growth beyond imagining.
I believe we grew and learned for a very long time as spirits before these physical lives ever began, fulfilling God's benevolent purposes for us as we walked our divine journey.
I believe he offered to give us all physical experiences on a physical world. He said that we needed to gain physical bodies if we wanted to progress further in our divine journey. He offered to create these bodies for us, further enhancing our capacity for joy, suffering, and meaning.
I believe this physical life is but a blip in eternity (or perhaps one of many physical "blips" we have already lived or will yet live). I believe we will go through an unimaginable level of growth after we finish this life, as we continue to walk our divine path.
I believe we voluntarily chose God's will. We understood the path God desired for us. We could see that this physical life, with all of its suffering and joy alike, would ultimately be for our growth and progression in the long-run - both for us as individuals and as a collective.
This life, not in spite of its challenges but because of them, would enable us to become more like God, gaining a further sliver of his divine understanding and infinite love along the path of our wonderous journey of existence.
What is our worth based on?
Because we are all infinite - we existed before this life and will go on existing all the same after it - we each have the exact same divine potential and capacity to learn and grow.
In my eyes and at my current level of understanding, here are 3 infallible and unchangeable things that I believe each of our worth is based on:
Our divine makeup and innate access to God's power
We were each created by God. I believe that he gave us our spirits and our physical bodies, and I believe he will yet give us far more as we continue into the infinite future.
He has also given each of us access to His truth and light to bring about goodness and peace in this world. We can each access these divine talents and gifts, as God's holiness acts in us to serve Him and His children.
While our choices will determine how readily we can access and accept these divine gifts, we each have the same eternal birthright to them and the same potential ability to align with them.
There is nothing we can do which will undo our inherited and divine DNA. We are all small pieces of the same great whole, shards of divinity with an existential and temporally incomprehensible connection to God's light and truth. Thereby, we are all connected, and we all influence one another's existence and experience, whether we recognize it or not.
Because we are all one, made of the same 'material', and come from the same source, we are each of the same, infinite value no matter what we say, do, think, or become during this very temporary life.
Truly embracing this truth does not make us complacent. Instead, it removes our fear that we are not enough and it empties us of pride that teaches us we are more than others. Such thoughts only lead to insecurity, undo perfectionism, and self-righteous instability.
When we feel our worth is set, infinite, and divine, no less and no more than any other person's, we finally become capable of changing the world and blessing others' lives like never before. We come to see that we can embrace life and lean into discomfort, because we are worthy of greatness.
Our eternal potential and capacity for growth
Each of us has the same infinite spiritual capacity for growth. None of us is better or worse than one another, no matter what we are doing right now, because our current choices have no hold upon our long-term capacity for change and progression. This capacity is equal and infinite for every one of us as divine beings that will exist forever.
This life is a drop in the ocean. Judging someone else's worth based on how they behave right now is like believing the ocean is no good because one wave didn't break as you would have preferred. Ocean waves have been breaking since the moon was born, and they will continue to do so.
All that we are and can become is a gift that is given to us
Without God's benevolence, we would not be here nor have or be anything that we are. Therefore, we have nothing to boast of nor feel discouraged by.
In reality, we own nothing. We can claim nothing. Our time is not our own, nor are our very lives. All is a gift, and all that we think we own is in truth God's. Therefore, all that we have and are is best dedicated in devotional service to God's will, as we are and always will be His already. But He will never force us to follow His divine path - the choice is ours, and He honors that choice above all else.
We are and always will be works in progress
We are loved unconditionally and we will exist forever. I believe we will continue to learn and grow throughout eternity, just as we did before this life and are doing right now.
I believe we came to this life with abilities, insights, and talents which we gained previous to our earthly experience. I believe we volunteered to enter different bodies with different brains and differing physical capacities.
All blessings and cursings upon these bodies and our experiences of joy and suffering can be used as tools for our learning and progression, regardless of whether they lead to "triumphs" during this temporary physical life or not. Eventually, in this life or afterwards, we will learn from all things.
It is possible that we knew of specific, severe sufferings we would experience during this life, and chose to volunteer for those experiences, as we also knew that they would lead to consequential growth that we specifically and individually were in need of.
This puts us all at different stages of spiritual progression with extremely diverse physical capacities. These differing levels of ability do not make us better or worse than one another, they simply are. To compare them to one another is akin to comparing a rock to a pebble in the infinite perspective of progression - the difference is quite insignificant when compared to the journey we are all walking to become more like God.
God's love and holiness is so far beyond ours. If we are to compare to someone, let us compare to Him. Not to make us feel discouraged, but to give us perspective on how long a journey we are all truly on; one which requires constant compassion and patience for ourselves and others.
His ways are vastly and far beyond ours. So much so, that we cannot comprehend even the tiniest part of His will and ways with our current finite and limited capacity for understanding. Things such as our physical sense capacity have no significant meaning when it comes to understanding God's ways. So, when we begin to see ourselves as more or less than a fellow human being, let us just remember that we are all the same before God. The difference in our abilities is so miniscule in comparison to Him.
We are all works in progress, with the same exact endowment of potential as every other person we see. No matter what any of us may be choosing at the present moment, it is all for our growth in the eternities. While we may cause suffering for others in this life, we may learn to stop doing such things later on during this physical existence. Or, we may not.
After this physical life is over, we will see what we did and likely learn from our actions then, and understand what we would like to do differently.
We are brothers and sisters, and we can feel complete acceptance for one another, knowing we are all the same and we are all one. We all have the same divine birthright, our lives were all given as a pure gift, and therefore we are all of infinite worth.
Life is filled with mistakes. That's good.
When we no longer believe that our worth is based on our actions, and we understand that we are simply here for growth, and all that we have was given to us as a gift, we will act not out of fear and guilt but instead out of love for our God and for each other, seeking to progress and serve as much as we can to fulfill the very purposes for which we came here. Our actions will be motivated by a desire to do what God would have us do.
We may lose sight of these truths and become distracted. Our focus may be diverted sometimes to the physical realm, believing that it is all that exists. This is okay. It is part of our divine learning. We can have compassion for ourselves, aiming to learn from our "sin" (which simply means to "miss the mark") and become better. We will always be changing and learning, and that is the point.
There is nothing bad or wrong about making mistakes. They are simply opportunities to learn, and a necessary part of our purpose for being here on earth. As we trust in God's love and His gifts, we can become more loving through our mistakes, turning them into opportunities rather than burdens, as His Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and acts in us to bring about His will.
Let each of us honor our divine DNA, our eternal capacity for growth, and the gift that each of us are. We are all connected, all one, all brothers and sisters, and God wants infinitely more than worldly success for us in eternity. He wants us to grow and embrace the greatest light and truth imaginable, as we struggle, experience, overcome, and learn to rely on His light and act as a conduit for His holiness to bring about good in all that we do.