Monday, February 28, 2011

For What It's Worth

What is it about us? We accept bad things happening. We see a storm coming and we grit our teeth and bear it without questioning it. We give trouble a shrug and an "Oh well, that's the way it goes." Only the Plastic Soul Attention Whores (as my friend Jessica so aptly named them) ever really complain about rough patches - and for them, those patches aren't really all that rough, they're just another way to get attention.

The other day my friend Jenny said to me, "Worthiness. I am struggling here. Things in my life are a jumbled combination of frustration and worry mixed with unmitigated joy and fulfillment... When things are absolutely amazing, I feel like there is a terror lurking behind it... I've never thought of myself as someone who struggles with the concept of worthiness but I suppose that's really what it comes down to."

It's like the woman reads my mind. Word for word. I mean, I'm not just in touch with that feeling - I've got all four limbs wrapped around it in a big gorilla hug.

I think, what it comes down to, is that there's a huge difference in feeling deserving and feeling worthy. I know I deserve good things, I just don't always feel worthy of the good things when they come. For me, it's a little different from the feeling of knowing there's another shoe waiting to drop. That's just part of life, and part of experiencing life. Death is imminent for all of us from the moment of conception.

Worthiness though. That is a tough nut. Probably the toughest. Having grown up Catholic, I was raised with the Not Worthy concept practically tattooed on my forehead. Part of the Catholic liturgy is "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." I'm sorry, but what a crock of shit. What a horrible thing to teach a child from the very beginning. You're not worthy. What a vile sentence. Not worthy equals worthless. On top of that, we learn that God might just decide to be nice to us even though we are not worthy. Though, not if.

I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes, or maybe even infuriated, thinking, "There goes that Atheist again!" But this has little to do with my atheistic stance, and more to do with rebellion against having been taught from the very beginning that we are not worthy beings. Says who? Really. Says WHO?!

As individuals, there may be things that we are not worthy of. For instance, I feel I'm not worthy of owning a guitar, simply because I don't have the time to dedicate to playing it. I'd love to have one, but I have enough other stuff that requires my time and attention.

But Jenny was talking about bigger things. One of the greater issues I struggle with every day is, "Why does this man (Steve) love me so much?" The logical side of me gets it. It's my blue eyes, it's the care and consideration and respect I show him, it's my goofy sense of humor, it's the way my hair drapes across his chest as we're falling asleep, and probably 6483 other things that I'm not aware of. However, there's a deeper side of me that constantly whispers, "What did you ever do to be worthy of a man like this? What makes you think you're worthy of this kind of happiness?"

Yet, I know I am worthy. I'm worthy... and here's the kicker... I'm worthy by virtue of the fact that I question my worthiness. I'm worthy because I don't take the good in my life for granted. I'm worthy for no other reason than that I was born to experience, as Rilke says, "beauty and terror; no feeling is final."

We are human. We get the good, we get the bad, we get the notable, we get the mundane, we get the happy, we get the sad, we get the funny, we get the anger. We get blood, snot, shit and sinew, and we get skin so soft that it's nearly heartbreaking. We get orgasms and we get broken bones. We get extraordinary in the ordinary by listening to a loved one breathe as they sleep; we get the bravery born in fear as we kiss a loved one knowing full well it may be the last kiss, but all the while believing that there will be another. We get beauty in the regurgitation of everything that has gone into making us, every bit that has fed our souls.

If we are alive - if we are paying attention to being alive - we get it all.

We are worthy because we are here.


  1. Barb,

    this is a post every one needs to read. needs to memorize. thanks for writing it.

    I honor the worthiest worth of everything you are :-)

    here's a little clip from Desiderata:

    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

  2. This is one of those posts that i will come back to more than once. Thank you for this, and everything.

  3. You truly are an amazing messenger. You ARE a messenger. This is more than a blog. It's a message. A profound, NEEDED message.


  4. Barb, Beautiful, profound, complex, simple... I love that you wrote this for me. I am going to print it and read and re-read. I love you, dear friend!

  5. Your writing make's thing's so real & clear for me... Thank you my dear friend! Love you more, T

  6. O, my dear! Yes! and YES again!!! Your courage in broaching such a topic humbles me. The sheer amount of self-confrontation in your writing makes me a little (teensy bit) braver about facing my own demons...

    Bless you with love and joy, peace and worthiness!

  7. Thank you for your post. Worthiness is definitely an issue that most of us probably have to face in our lives - particularly those of us from a Christian background. I've certainly had to and can relate so much to what you talk about. It is not an easy thing to accept completely that we are worthy of all the good and wonderful things that can happen to us in the face of so much religious dogma that we have inherited.

  8. gosh life is just so full of coincidences, eh?
    I was talking to a friend of mine today about a shadow inside me , or a pop up clown, about a feeling of being unworthy.
    My friend said that Love goes everywhere and doesn't worry about worthiness, there is only acceptance...
    life is bizarre! life is funny!! life is good!!

  9. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments.

    But, @Melanie... A pop up clown! I love it.

  10. I had to chuckle at the tattoo on the forehead comment. I am not a cradle catholic but a convert, dye into the faith at the age of 8 by a mother searching for a place to fit when her marriage was *unsatisfying*. Convert take up the dye faster than those born into it. And that phrase you quote, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word and I shall be healed." GONG! No wonder so many of us fall away from the construct of worship.

    Thanks Barb.....finding a place that attests and affirms my worth....that innate knowledge that I have merit and value....and hopefully where there are others that *get me*....that is my ultimate desire.

  11. I got to thinking.....Dangerous, I know. But think about this.


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