There are two voices, one for each ear, whispering supposed truth to me. I waver between listening to one or the other. It’s a constant struggle to choose to heed the words I know are true, the words that say I’m worthwhile, I have something to offer, I’m created in the image of a God who has designed me for a purpose. Other times, I turn away and listen to the voice that mocks me. “You’ll never be as good as that person. Why even try? It’s all been done before. The world doesn’t need your creativity, your thoughts, your words. You have nothing to offer.”
That latter voice is crippling. It causes me coil up and hide, refusing to share anything at all for fear of how it may be received, or for fear that no one will even take notice.
And then the other voice speaks, waking me up to the truth. My words are needed. They’re my words – no one else’s, and the idea that something is only worth contributing if it’s the best (according to our culture’s idea of “the best”) is a blatant lie. How do you think the people who are deemed “the best” got there? They practiced, worked and contributed before becoming the best in order to excel in their craft. Sure, some had more God-given talent in a certain area, but prodigies still have to practice.
But then what if I don’t ever get to that point? What if I don’t really want to get to that point? I honestly don’t really have the desire to be famous, and I’m OK if my work isn’t the best of the best of the best. Is my work still valid if it’s not at the very least a stepping-stone to public recognition? Should I even bother if the platform on which I speak remains small?
Yes. The extent to which others acknowledge and appreciate your work does not dictate its value – or your value.
“Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands” (Brene Brown). When I stop and think about why I’m struggling through this debilitating cycle of comparison, what I often realize is that I’m trying to find my worth in the affirmation of other people. If I’m doing that, then my worth is constantly changing. If someone likes me, I’m worthy. If they don’t, I’m worthless. If I receive affirmation for my work, it’s good. If I don’t, it’s terrible.
When my sense of worth and creative value rests on the shaky ground of outward recognition, it is so easy to falter, to doubt, to grow weary, tired and discouraged. But when I realize that I have worth as a human being, created by God in his image, I remember that I have worth, because HE has given it to me. I can echo the words of the psalmist and say, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
My worth and the value of my work are determined by the Creator God, and he doesn’t change. Even if no one else sees what I do or recognizes my contributions, or even if it’s not up to the quality of the person next to me, He sees it and values it if it is offered up to glorify Him.
Francis Schaeffer wrote, "How can art be sufficiently meaningful? If it is offered up merely before men, then it does not have a sufficient integration point. But it can be offered up before God…So the man who really loves God, who is working under the lordship of Christ, could write his poetry, compose his music, construct his musical instruments, fashion his statues, paint his pictures, even if no man ever saw them. He knows God looks upon them." (And may I add, "cook and photograph her recipes" to that list?)
Over the last couple years, I’ve been learning better how to silence the debilitating voice and listen to the words of the life-giving one. The truth is finally starting to sink into my heart – and the irony is that as I’ve recognized my worth from God and have been grounded in him, my work has improved. My courage has grown. I’m more willing to show myself to the world, and if I’m not well received, that’s OK. My identity and value are not on the line.
The volume of the lies is gradually fading. Thoughts of worthlessness are becoming mere white noise, drowned out by words speaking beauty and truth. I choose to listen to the truth.
Cocoa + Cardamom Waffles
Yields about 10 (7-inch round) waffles
2 cups buttermilk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
½ teaspoon salt
Cooking spray or additional butter (to grease the waffle iron)
Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high (I set mine to setting number 4 out of 5). In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee, and salt. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined.
Grease the waffle iron if needed. Pour about ½ cup of batter onto the center of the preheated waffle iron. (You may need to adjust this amount based on your waffle iron and the manufacturer’s recommendation.) Close the waffle iron and cook until the waffles are crisp on the outside. Repeat this step until you use all the batter.
Serve immediately, or keep the waffles warm in a 200-degree oven until you’re ready to serve. (Hint: They’ll stay crispier if you avoid stacking them!) Top with powdered sugar, fruit, whipped cream, maple syrup, or any other favorite toppings. Enjoy!