Updated: Mar 10
I thought making a new pillow would fix the empty void in my heart… it was my last "kick of the can".
I was at a point in my therapy where my tricks of covering up my pain had been exposed and were no longer working for me. I was like an addict who could no longer escape their reality.
My new pillow was supposed to be my substance of relief and it failed terribly. There was no rush of endorphins filling me with a sense of pride and accomplishment; just a pretty pillow and an echoing emptiness.
I had been stumbling through life empty, existing in this painful struggle, constantly trying to drown out my pain by earning approval and worth. I would use tactics like being everyone’s superhero friend, placing myself in a rescuing position trying to earn badges for my superhero cape. People needed me and I needed to be needed; it was a reciprocating relationship. I felt like a failure and the rollercoaster of that painful cycle kept me striving to earn my worth. If a friend invited me out to an event, that meant my company was valuable. If my family or friends needed me, that meant my skills were valuable. If someone thought I was pretty, well there was value in that too. I was constantly searching for confirmation of my value; it was an exhausting quest for a temporary relief.
Another tactic I used was having a perfect home. A friend once said my home was so perfect I should hang velvet ropes in front of each doorway like the ones used in museums. My home was a display of my value; cushions fluffed, everything coordinated, beds all made, no untidy rooms and no messes to be found. My home earned me affirmation which in turn helped fill my worth tank.
When I began learning of these tactics I was using to earn my self worth and build my esteem, I was embarrassed and disappointed. For years I believed I was this great, selfless friend, and helpful family member, when in fact I was acting primarily out of selfish needs not selfless sacrifice.
So how does my vintage pillow tie into all of this?
Well, it was the late 90’s and Victorian style was all the rage. I would often frequent thrift stores and garage sales searching for vintage treasures that I could later revive into something new. I had come across a beautiful piece of vintage fabric covered in delicate pink roses and would fit perfectly into my Victorian decor. And, on this particular day I needed to sew a new pillow cover. But it wasn't really about the pillow, it was about the distraction. Life was again not going as planned. I was hurting. I had no escape and I needed a fix.
I set up my sewing machine, pulled out my ironing board and got to work. The day was sunny, kids were at school and the mission seemed doable. Within an hour or so I completed the pillow cover and it was beautiful. And, by all rights it should have worked. I should have felt a great sense of pride in my creativity and accomplishment but I didn’t. Instead, with my new, beautiful pillow all fluffed up and placed perfectly in its new home, my heart still felt empty. The pain was still there. I knew exactly what I had done; I needed that “feel good, look how clever you are” feeling so I could silence the constant muttering of “you are a screw up” that plagued my thoughts. Problem was now I was onto my charade. Therapy had brought my tactics to light and I had no way out, no way to camouflage my reality.
In desperation I called my facilitator, “what am I supposed to do now?” I wept. She told me I was exactly where God needed me to be. That God could now move me forward and my process of healing and freedom could begin. That I could begin to discover who I was without the veil of who I thought I was by my earnings of worth.
I discovered I only knew three things about myself. I knew I loved God, I knew I was an honest person and I knew I had a good heart. And with those three truths I started on a quest to find out who the real me was. Who I would be and what I would do if I wasn’t doing it for the purpose of earring approval and worth from others. Would I make my bed? Would I keep a tidy house? Would I keep all the friends I had? What kind of a man would I be attracted to?
Well, since that day I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I don’t always make my bed. I learned that I don’t need to always say yes to everyone. I’ve learned to set healthy boundaries that help both me and those in my life.
Most importantly I have learned my true worth to an audience of one. God shows me that He sees me. God shows me that He hears me, that He is listening to my prayers and knows my inner thoughts. He shows me that He has a plan for my life and that I can trust Him. He has shown me that it is ok to not make my bed. It is ok, to not have my house in a constant state of perfection.
He has also shown me there is nothing I can do from now until my last breath that will cause Him to love me any more or any less that He does right now in this very moment.
In my brokenness, He loves me.
In my mess, He loves me.
In my doubt, He loves me.
In my fear, He loves me.
There is nothing I can do to earn His love or lose His love… so now I rest in that.
It was a long journey and sometimes I still have moments of weakness but praise God they are short lived. With His love and encouragement, I get back up, dust myself off and march on like the true daughter of a King that I am.
Remember, your worth can never be attained by the measures of this world.
I know that searching, empty feeling trying to find a morsel of worth in an empty pit of worthlessness. Trust me, those quick fixes of relief last but a fleeting moment. Your true worth is in the eyes of your Saviour. The long lasting relief comes from filling that aching void with God’s love.
I pray you will recognise the tactics you use to fill that void, find a way to stop the cycle and fill that void with God’s unconditional love.
Here are a few scriptures to encourage you:
Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
Isaiah 43:1 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Blessings to you. May you discover how truly wonderful you are in His eyes and rest in that.