I left my jacket at the party.
I walked back to my dorm room, shivering from the chill in the air. The night before, a Friday, I’d spent the night in a guy’s room. He was an upperclassman, I just a freshman in college, and I felt incredibly beautiful with the way he looked at me and touched me.
I made a commitment to save sex for marriage, but nights like that made me question my commitment.
I wanted desperately to make him love me and never stop wanting me.
There I was the next night, walking jacketless back to my dorm. I wore my new skirt and tube top and felt like an idiot, trying to hold back tears until I made it home.
He’d completely ignored me.
The guy I’d spent the night with just 24 hours earlier pretended like he didn’t notice me standing in the fraternity house. He was with another girl—a long-legged, gorgeous blonde and I was pea-green with envy. I kept lingering, hoping he would notice me, hoping she was just his sister or his cousin—not wanting to give up on him just yet.
Then, I saw him kiss her right there in the middle of the dance floor. I grabbed my purse and ran, leaving my jacket in the pile across the room. I couldn’t let him see me crying.
I never wanted to feel utterly forgotten like that again. But that wasn’t the last time.
I tried to date better men, believing I just kept choosing the wrong guy. The next time I questioned if I was even worth a man’s affection, his name was Ryan and he was a senior. I was just a freshman.
After that there was the strong football player who told me I resembled a supermodel (right) as we climbed in the back of an upperclassman’s car. I ended up in his arms at the end of the night. Each of these relationships commenced with an exhilarating flood of emotions, followed by a hard crash into five servings of soft-serve and friends commiserating with me about what a %&*$ he was and how I ‘deserved’ better.
But doesn’t rejection always make us feel like we deserve less?
I’m good at chastising myself, so after a few harsh words and promises to do better and if I’m honest, a good dose of church—my hurting heart seemed to mend. But what I never realized was my decisions to run to men were much deeper. The questions of “Am I worth loving?”
“Am I lovable?”
“Am I beautiful?” screamed louder.
I didn’t believe I was worth loving, but I was desperate to prove I was.
No matter if your life has been idyllic up to this point or wrecked with abandonment and pain—someone at some point has made you feel worthless.
Whether it was a parent who said you’d never measure up, a best friend who left you, or a boy who didn’t choose you, we’ve all had someone reaffirm our doubts that we even deserve love.
I counsel women in messy, hurtful relationships and it’s amazing how each doesn’t believe they deserve better. I’ve learned a lot from dating all the wrong men myself, but I promise you that all our huffing and puffing and striving to prove we are worth a man’s affection is futile.
The reason you can’t be alone, or that you let men text you for a late-night “date” or that lost your virginity to a man that left you when another woman stole his affection is always deeper.
At least it was for me.
We accept the kind of love we think we deserve. That’s the danger in not knowing what you are worth. You will accept disgraceful, hurtful, and often terrible love.
Because you don’t know the depth and the height of the love you deserve. I didn’t either.
I don’t think positive self-talk, only dating “nice guys,” or listening to our friends praises does anything to combat the riddling insecurity many of us face about a man’s affection.
And I don’t believe you can discover you are worth loving in the arms of a man.
I was 8,000 miles from home in a countryside town in China when I finally could believe, though difficult, I am worth loving. Sitting quietly with an elderly Chinese lady, holding her hand, I knew she was worth loving. In fact, I tried desperately to tell her, but she spoke a different dialect and couldn’t understand my Mandarin.
“Mae” lived in a concrete alleyway with no roof over head and had outlived all her children. It was as if with all my emotions and love that flooded into that open-aired, sunny room, God showed her and I we are worth love.
Worth stems from the quiet assurance we are enough—not because of our jeans size, the number of suitors calling, or our resumes—but because of Jesus. He has declared you are not just worth loving, but worth dying for. May you have the strength to run from the temptation to try to prove your worth in the arms of a man.
For that, dear sister, is truly a dead end.
Have you tried to find your worth in a man (or woman)? Will you share your story?
[Photo: Citoyen du Monde Inc, Creative Commons]