Once upon a time, (I know, you're not supposed to start with that. I learned that in, like, second grade. Bear with me.) there lived a girl who had and was everything that every other girl hoped for. She was beautiful, of course, and had the most beautiful gowns, made for her by her tailor. She was the most accomplished sportsman she knew. (and she knew just about everyone) When she raced horses, hers was the fastest; when she danced, she was was the most graceful; when she shot an arrow, hers flew the truest. She was kind and honest, good to everyone she encountered to their face and behind their back. Because of these things, she lived a full and happy life, certain that she had great worth and confident because of it.
One day, while riding, the girl's horse caught sight of a snake in the grass. The horse had always been easily frightened and it reared, throwing the girl off its back and onto the rocky path. The girl recovered, but always walked with a limp. "I will never be the best dancer or racer or archer agian," she said with dismay. "Never mind. I still have my beauty, my tailor's scissors are still sharp, and I will never stop being kind and honest and good; it is there that I will find my worth."
The following morning, as the girl sat resting her leg, her tailor came to visit her. Regretfully, he informed her that the queen of the neighboring county had requested that he come to sew beautiful gowns for her. He had, of course, accepted, and would be off as soon as he could manage. The princess, always kind and good, sent him away and wished him well. "My gowns will never be quite so beautiful," she lamented. "However, I must keep my chin up. I am beautiful and good and kind; I must be worth something still."
Another sun set and rose, and the girl was happy and confident, although maybe not so much as before. She met with her friends, as usual, and complimented and encouraged them so that they left her feeling better than when they had come. Just as she was returning home, a very dear, old friend met her on the street and inquired after the dress she was wearing. "You always wear such beautiful new dresses. Why are you wearing this one again?" The girl snapped at her friend, who went away sad. As her friend walked away, the girl wept. "I cannot be kind and good; I have lost my closest friend." After a great while, the girl dried her eyes, threw back her shoulders, and said. "I am beautiful. I still have worth." But as she raised her head, she caught a glimpse of herself in a pool of water on the street. Her face was sad and drawn and her eyes were dim. "I am not beautiful. I am rude to my friends; my clothes are old, and I walk with a limp. What am I worth without these things?"
It's sad, isn't it? What's even more sad is that lots of us treat ourselves the same way. We put a lot of effort into building up our worth. We put in extra hours, run a little faster, make funnier jokes, wear higher heels. At the end of the day, though, that stuff doesn't last, and if we've put our worth in it, we're out of luck when the events that just show up throughout our crazy lives take it away.
Our bodies can be a huge source of worth, or a lack thereof. You don't know how many times I've thought that if I was more fit, I would be happier and more confident; that somehow my worth would skyrocket. If I'd just work a little harder, someday I could get to the point that I'd be completely happy with my body and what it looked like and what it was capable of. At that point, I'd be assured of my worth.
You know what, though? It doesn't work that way. It just doesn't. My worth and yours is not in toned arms and legs or perfect skin. It's not even in our great body image, in the way we accept our flaws and learn to love them. My body, and the way I view it, are not the determining factors of what I'm worth, and I'm glad of it. If my value was based on a control that unsteady, it would crash and soar like the stock market.
The story of the girl isn't over, yet. There's more.
At the sight of her flawed features, the girl gasped and walked quickly out of town, ashamed to be seen in that way. She took long strides with her head down, past the shops and homes and farms that she knew, until there was nothing left. She crossed the countryside in ashamed steps, never raising her head for the weight that she bore. It was because of this that she nearly ran into a stranger standing in the road. She raised her head to apologize was startled to find him looking at back as if he'd been waiting for her there on the road for a long, long time. Whether it was because of his understanding eyes or the fact that he reminded her of her own father she wasn't sure, but the girl found the words tumbling out before she could stop them. She chocked out her story, the words running together and not quite right, but he simply listened. When she finished, she asked, not half expecting an answer, "Am I worth it?"
She turned her eyes away, embarrassed but still waiting for an answer. Just when she was sure that the man had left, he put his hands on her shoulders and replied, "You're worth it. I love you." The girl really saw him for the first time then. It was the king of the land where she lived; the most powerful and beloved man as far as anyone had traveled. "You're worth it because I love you."
If our worth isn't in our performance or personality, where does it come from? I'm a firm believer in the fact that each person has inherent value. Frankly, I hope you are, too, because without that belief life would get pretty hopeless. You'd be constantly under a cloud that threatens to open with every mistake, and I don't know you, but I know that's no way to live. I'm a firm believer, also, that the worth that each person has originates in the love that man who created and rules our world and beyond has for them. I know there'll be some who read this who aren't buying the whole God thing, and that's fine. You're not supposed to buy it just because I told you to. This is just my story, and I know that without him I'd still be scrambling for a tailor cover up the areas where I lack with a pretty dress that won't last.
At the very least, don't worry about your body too much, okay? Your worth is completely unrelated to it, pinky promise.