Value and Voices

Where does the value of a person come from? This is something that I think western culture is struggling with right now, which is part of the reason why we are seeing an increase in violence. I struggled with this for years, knowing as a Christian that every person has value but not being able to truly articulate why. For some years I believed that a person’s value was directly tied to how responsible they were, so whenever I failed to follow through on a task it reduced my worth as a person. I even went so far as to consider people who never did what they were “supposed” to do to be worthless, which is a dangerous label but one that is used quite a bit.
What I have observed culturally is that generally, people bestow value to others based on what value or benefit that person provides to them. If you help me, I consider you a person, if you hinder me, you are merely an obstacle to overcome. In reaction to this, you see people trying to define a person as being valuable based on their uniqueness, which leads people who don’t feel valued to latch onto anything seen as unusual in an effort to increase their personal worth.
I now realize that our value doesn’t come from what we do, or how unique we are, it comes from the fact that we are all part eternal creature – our Spirit is god-stuff. “Let us make man in our image.” This is what separates us from the animals around us. We are not a random chance of evolution, we are a creation of God, and all equally valuable – NO MATTER WHO WE ARE. The sinner just as much as the saint. The weak as much as the strong. And this means that we each have an equal right to have our voices heard.
Even now I struggle with believing that I can have value to people I don’t know. I struggle with meeting people because I have believed for a long time that I wasn’t really worth their time. I am reluctant to ask people for help because I feel that I provide nothing in return. I have been reluctant to open up to others about my deeper struggles because I did not feel like I was valuable enough to place that burden on others. I silenced my voice, even though others were encouraging me to talk.
Now I am learning to use my voice. Much like a baby learning to walk, it takes a lot of effort, and I often bump into other things than I intended. When mistakes happen, I can either become afraid of the power of my voice, or I can actually learn from it. Silence helps no one, so I will keep learning.

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