Worth, love, and Brene Brown

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are having a joyful and restful holiday. I just wanted to pop on here to tell you about a word I’m reflecting on: worthiness. I’ve been reading a book by Brene Brown (apparently one of her most popular books) called The Gifts of Imperfection. In this book, Brene, a talented psychologist and shame researcher, boldly speaks up about the importance of what she calls “owning our story”, embracing the reality of our strengths and imperfections to better live and love with our whole hearts.

Within the first few pages, I found myself both inspired and challenged by her words. She talks about big concepts like love and belonging, about what her research says about how people cultivate it in their lives, and the most common roadblocks that keep us from having peace and satisfaction in this area of our lives. I love that she doesn’t pretend this is a self-help book. She doesn’t promise 10 steps to finding perfect happiness, and she stresses needing to do our own deep heart work and engaging with ourselves and our darkness in order to find the light (themes that should sound familiar with those who read my blog). While I haven’t finished reading it yet, I can tell that this is something I’m going to return to again and again as I continue my own journey toward “wholehearted living”.

Perhaps the most challenging thing she’s said so far, though, is the paradox of having love. According to her research, “only one thing separated the research participants who felt a deep sense of love and belonging from the people who seem to be struggling for it. That one thing is the belief in their worthiness. It’s as simple and complicated as this:

If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” – Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Now, I don’t know about you, but I felt a little too seen by that. After all, what does it mean to be worthy of love? And what would it mean to live our lives like we really believe we are? This is all new territory for me, and I don’t know what embracing this will mean for me yet. But I do know, I can feel it deep in my bones, that this is something I need to do.

Almost like a confirmation, a phrase in the Eucharistic Prayer caught my attention a few days after I read this quote from Brene. In Eucharistic Prayer II, the priest thanks the Lord God, who “[has] held us worthy to be in Your presence and minister to You.” Again, the word that struck me here was worthy. The Lord Himself calls us worthy. He not only permits us to be in His presence, to approach Him in prayer and thanksgiving, but He calls us worthy of it. He proclaims our worth and identity and speaks that truth over us every time we come to Him. Every single time.

I still don’t fully understand what that means. I still don’t know how to live out of this reality. I’m still not sure I’m ready to embrace the challenges that go along with putting aside my old ideas about myself and choose to practice a new way. But, I have peace that this way is the Lord’s way, and the way I’m being called to step into in this next stage of my life. A way of greater tenderness. Of firmer boundaries. Of seeing myself the way that I am and learning to love that woman, even if she isn’t yet the woman I want her to be. And learning to let other people love the woman I am too.

We are worthy of love. We are all worthy of love. It has been spoken over us. I hope that by embracing this reality and bringing it to bear in our hearts, we may live a life closer to the Lord and go deeper into our call to be saints. As we welcome the Lord into our lives this Christmas season, I pray that, perhaps, we can welcome our worth into it too. Merry Christmas, friends.