Last week, a friend of mine asked me where I derive my self-worth from. Is it from things like academic success? Apparently, I paused for a moment before responding, “from my relationships with other people.”
She went away thinking about my answer. I went away thinking about her question.
What kind of concept is “self-worth”? How can you be worth anything all by yourself? Quite frankly, it seems to me a sign of how lost we are as a culture that we’re trying to find meaning in our lives by seeking answers to such awkward questions.
At any rate, it was a question that I’d never really considered much and, though I’d give the same answer if asked again, it’s much, much more than just “relationships with other people.” There is a great underlying significance intended there. I derive self-worth from my success. But success, properly understood.
About a year ago, I attended a funeral at my high school. Brother Domenic, the principal, delivered a eulogy during which, amongst many other things, he expressed what he felt was an important reality we were forced to consider.
The way we measure success as human beings is terribly flawed. I am increasingly of the view personally that we have it terribly wrong. It is not the length of days or the accomplishments or the conquests, or health or the career, which makes us most human and therefore like God in whose image we are created. It is our capacity to love and be loved by others.
I derive my self-worth from my success, from my capacity to love and be loved by others. And I mean this in the strongest sense possible. What else is of any value?
Nothing is more important than being in the presence of beauty and giving birth in beauty.
The rest follows.