Am I pretty enough? Handsome enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough? Even for God? To find the best answer, my good friend Michele Cushatt tackled these questions after a brutal bout with tongue cancer led her to search for her value–resulting in her newest best-selling book, I Am. From that journey, she shares below one priceless life lesson about YOUR value, too.
By Michele Cushatt, Guest Writer
The trip was to be a reunion of sorts, a gathering of peers from around the country to meet at a well-known conference. I’d planned the trip for months and counted down the days. I dreamed of heartfelt conversations with old friends and exciting connections with new ones. I needed this.
Ready, I boarded the plane.
One day into the conference, and I knew I’d been mistaken. Instead of a soul-filling getaway, it turned out to be a soul-sucking experience watching my confidence drain. In a place filled with the sounds of relationship, I was invisible. A dozen or more women whose names I knew and who knew my own laughed and cried and savored the gift of time shared. Only they did it with each other and without me.
I ricocheted from person to person, trying to find a place at their tables, attempting to squeeze into their conversations.
It didn’t work. The more I tried, the tighter they circled. While they held on to each other, I sat alone.
What’s wrong with me? This was the question that plagued me throughout the conference. These were beautiful women, full of faith and wisdom and life. I ached to be part of their lifegiving circle, but there seemed to be no room in it for me. After a couple of days, my self-esteem was in shreds.
After the conference ended, I returned to the airport, bruised and disappointed. My flight couldn’t leave fast enough. But something changed once the plane was in the air. Conviction replaced rejection. During the conference, I’d spent my best self working to be seen and accepted, trying to hide my flaws and be good enough.
But as I strained to find my seat at old friends’ tables, I ignored countless others looking for a seat of their own.
Beyond the small group I tried to infiltrate, hundreds more gathered at the conference. Rather than see their faces, I remained consumed by my own. In the end, I left frustrated that I was unable to build friendships with those I already knew, but convicted that I was also unwilling to spark a connection with those I didn’t.
Embarrassed, I suspected the latter was a far greater tragedy.
The desire to feel accepted isn’t unique to me. There’s a story in the Old Testament about a boy who couldn’t find his place.
Although born a prince, the son of King David’s best friend, Jonathan, Mephibosheth endured a crippling accident that left him in isolation.
Until Kind David started looking for the one he missed, the son of his friend. Rather than having eyes only for the popular, King David searched for someone lost who needed to be found. And when he found him, he did something about it: “Mephibosheth . . . will always eat at my table” (2 Sam. 9:10).
The words of a king to the heart of an outcast. Just like that, Mephibosheth found his place. We all want to be accepted by those we admire. Anxious to fit in, we move from one circle to another, trying to find our place and searching for an empty chair. But there’s a problem: it’s the wrong chair.
The King already has a place with your name on it. And one with mine. He doesn’t have eyes for the popular. Instead, He looks for the lost needing to be found. And when He finds you and me, He says, You will always eat at My table.
Michele Cushatt, a fellow author and good friend, takes these words from her latest book, I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. It was written during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about personal doubts and why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds. But God is.
ENTER MY BOOK GIVEAWAY OF I AM!
I’m honored to partner with Michele Cushatt in this Book Bundle Giveaway to the first person to share in the Comments section below how Michele’s wisdom inspired you today. The gift consists of the I Am Book and 60 beautiful verse cards designed to coincide with each day of the book. The set comes with an easel to display each 5×7 card for a gorgeous daily reminder of who you are. Learn more about “I Am” at (www.iambook.net).
(Michele and her husband, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long walk, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele @ michelecushatt.com.)
Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author of books and essays on mountain-moving faith.
To travel along on Patricia’s faith Journey, click here and sign up!
Top photo: iStockphoto