You've felt it before. This unsettling sense of "I don't deserve this" whenever someone treats you unfairly or doesn't appreciate your worth as an individual. It happens in your personal relationships. Sometimes, the actions of those you care about could suggest that they haven't taken your feelings into account or don't fully recognise your value.
You feel disappointed when they aren't doing what you think they'd be doing if you truly mattered to them. You think: "if only they thought I was special enough, then they would act differently."
We've all been there
Our loved ones get so focussed on the other things they have going on in their lives, we feel as if we've been put off to the side. They are juggling other priorities and commitments and in some moments we don't get their attention. Our needs, desires and feelings are not at the forefront of their minds.
We accept that, obviously, we cannot be the centre of their worlds, but their failure to do what we think they should be doing, although not malicious in intent, can wound us deeply. We interpret it as a sign of a lack of care. We can then feel rejected, abandoned, alone. We may find ourselves thinking: "I deserve better than what's happening to me right now."
In the context of a romantic relationship, you can begin to conclude your partner somehow isn't "good enough" for you. Isn't in tune to your wants. Doesn't listen to your needs. Doesn't love you enough. Doesn't know how to treat you. Probably isn't in love. Was the wrong choice. You rationalise that if only we met the person who is the right one for us, then that person would just "get it".
That person would understand. That person would know exactly what we need and deserve, and love us enough to spend the time, energy and effort doing those things for us. That person will anticipate our needs and meet them. That person will always look out for our best interest, above their own. Will look beyond our faults, see our innate beauty and accept us wholeheartedly.
The sad reality
The logic of our thinking is flawed. We haven't considered the fact that that person would be imperfect too; and like us, people are naturally self-focussed and make selfish decisions that unintentionally hurt those they love.
The ugly truth is that no relationship with another human being can ever give you what you truly deserve; no matter how much they love you or how hard they try.
Jesus understands this very well. He was rejected by those around Him. Isaiah chapter 53 verse 3 (New International Version) says:
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
There's good news though. A relationship with God can ever give you what you truly deserve; because He loves you more than you can comprehend.
The Giver of Gifts you didn't earn: Grace
God "satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm chapter 103 verse 5).
The best gift we have been given is the ability to know God, through a relationship with his Son, Jesus. We can talk to the Creator of the universe, the one who knew us before we knew ourselves, who loves us even when we mess up. He gives us life and every day we have a choice: we can choose Jesus.
The Withholder of Punishment you earned: Mercy
In addition to giving us blessings we could not possibly earn, God doesn't give us the punishment we deserve.
The payment for sin is death (Romans Chapter 6 verse 23). Sin is, essentially, when we fail to do what God tells us to do and doing anything He tells us we shouldn't do. Instead of giving us the penalty our sin merits, God did something different:
But God has shown us how much he loves usâit was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! By his bloodwe are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God's anger! We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. (Romans 5 verses 8 to 10)
As opposed to punishment, we now have eternal life with him.
Jesus can identify with our pain
Jesus left heaven to live and die like us so that we could be saved from eternal death. He came back to life to show his victory over death and sin.
That doesn't mean life won't be hard to endure at times. We will sometimes feel neglected, "beaten up" emotionally and drained. People will treat us with little regard and those we love will hurt us or fail to do what we want them to do. We will be let down. For the minor things, I'm learning to just lighten up, let it go and not take things so seriously. In the big scheme of things, it really doesn't matter as much I may think. For the bigger things, I make the hard choice and try to forgive, just as I desire forgiveness when I let others down.
I think we can learn from what Jesus went through while on earth and that can signal hope for us too. Isaiah chapter 53 verse 11 (Good News Translation) prophesied of Jesus:
After a life of suffering, he will again have joy;
he will know that he did not suffer in vain.
That is the hope we can all look forward to.
Sharma considers herself a child of the Caribbean, but when she arrived in New Zealand, she discovered that she is also a kiwi at heart. She holds a PhD in Law from the Victoria University of Wellington.
Sharma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sharma-taylor.html