Well, we’ve officially surpassed the 50 day mark for quarantine. I feel like there should be some sort of consolation prize for that grim milestone. Like a four-pack of Charmin Ultra Soft and a handle of top shelf liquor or something. At the very least a travel size mini Purell hand sanitizer. Is that too much to ask?
I read a staggering statistic recently: 30 million. Thirty million. That’s the current number of people who have filed for unemployment in the US as a result of the coronavirus.
If that number seems outrageous, that’s because it is. Nearly 18.6% of the work force now finds themselves out of a job or furloughed, thanks to the current state of things.
And reading that, I’m sure it hits close to home for many of you. I know it does for me.
Just this past week, I lost another acting job due to COVID19. That’s the second time during this pandemic, on top of a canceled speaking engagement that was scheduled for March.
Thirty million people. Each, not just a “number,” but a person. With a story: Moms. Dads. Siblings. Spouses. Sons and daughters. Friends. Colleagues. That staggering statistic hits differently when you think about the person behind the number: struggling to pay bills, put food on the table, blowing through savings, or finding themselves having to go to food banks for the first time, ever.
I spent a lot of time this weekend, reflecting on that. Wrestling with thoughts of inadequacy and disappointment from digesting the news about that acting job. But a thought came into my head, that I wanted to share with you.
Right now, work looks differently for everybody. If we’re not grappling with job loss, then we’re adjusting to a redefined role at our jobs. And as a result, one of the things I think most people have been confronted with as we’re all met with more time on our hands than ever before, is this very soul-defining question: How am I contributing to society?
What does it mean that’s I’m not essential? Aren’t we all essential? And if not, then what does that mean about me?
Because at the end of the day, all any of us want, is to matter. We could be talking jobs, we could be talking in a relationship, we could be talking to our communities…Do I matter?
And I think what we’re all — myself included — coming to realize, as a result of this quarantine, is that a lot of us have been tying up too much of our worth in our jobs.
My worth comes from my contribution to my company. To my ability to make money. To my position as X, Y, or Z on the corporate laddar. To my paycheck.
My worth is defined by my contribution to society.
And as those things have been stripped away or significantly altered — for, at a bare minimum, 30 million of us — we’re left grappling with a question we’re terrified to answer?
Do I matter?
I felt this question worm its way into my head this weekend, during a quiet moment of weakness. And to be honest, it’s a thought that I have wrestled with before, during my eating disorder.
I believed I had to be perfect to be loved.
I had to achieve this, and earn that, in order to qualify for love. In order to be worth something.
It gave me a false sense of security, believing that I could control those outcomes.
And eventually, that quest for perfection began to strangle every aspect of my life: from my academics, to sports and extra-curriculars, to which social group I ran with, to my boyfriend, to my appearance, and eventually — to my weight.
And there you can see the spiral take off.
I had to completely surrender that destructive way of thinking. And for me, it took rock bottom to get there.
I remember exactly where I was when it finally “clicked.”
I was at an inpatient hospital across the country from my family. And part of the admittance process is that you have to undergo an initial medical assessment of sorts. I was brought into this back room with these two stern nurses, and they handed me a blue, backless, paper hospital gown with the one word instruction, “Strip.” Because they wanted to do a full body check for any sign of self harm, which is a common manifestation of eating disorders. And standing there, shivering, naked, at 78 pounds, with no hair on my head because it had all fallen out due to malnutrition, getting checked for signs of self mutilation at an eating disorder treatment facility — I thought to myself, — Caralyn. This is it. My life does not get any lower than this.
I had spent the last year and a half, manipulating and lying to everyone I loved. I destroyed my relationships — didn’t return a phone call or text for two years. I had dropped out of everything: Went from top scholar, varsity athlete, to a very sick, deeply broken girl. I had nothing. Absolutely nothing left.
If God can rescue me from that…From that pit of rock bottom. If God can look at that scared and shaking girl and see her worth, and value, and dignity as a Child of God — there is nothing He cannot do.
Right now, we’ve got two choices. We can either succumb to the lie that our worth lies in our job titles. In what we achieve. In what we accomplish.
OR, we can claim the truth that our worth is completely separate from those superficial externalities. Yes – work is important, and we were made to work. But it does not define that which was determined by Jesus’ death on the Cross.
That is what truly defines our worth. Our dignity. Our value: Jesus defined it for us.
Our greatest job in life, is to claim that truth. And embrace the absolute freedom and security that comes with it.
Do I matter?
More than I will ever know. I matter enough for Christ to literally die for.
And knowing that truth, the question then becomes, how will I respond?
As we set out on another week in quarantine, know that I’m praying for you, that I love you, and that I am grateful for your presence in my life! You matter to me! 🙂
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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