In the classic children’s story “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, an unlikely friendship develops between a wise barn spider named Charlotte who shares her home with Wilbur, an unassuming pig. Wilbur loves life and is despondent when he learns that it might be cut short only to end up on a farmer’s breakfast plate. But things turn around when he wakes up each day to a new message spun into the web in the rafters above him, such as “some pig,” “humble,” and my personal favorite, “radiant.” The townsfolk are stumped by Charlotte’s work and attribute the phenomenon to divine intervention. Wilbur grows in self-esteem each day and ultimately his life is spared.
We all could use a friend like Charlotte, someone to tell us – and others – how valued we are and why our life is important. Imagine waking up each day to a banner above your head: “You’re amazing!” Those kinds of genuine affirmations of the gold in character often come from a parent, teacher, friend, or even a stranger, and point to the inherent goodness in each one of us.
Above all, though, God – divine Love itself – wants each of us to know just how loved we are. We see evidence of this in the Bible. For instance, God said to Christ Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Of course, we aren’t Jesus, but his teachings make it pretty clear that God is well pleased with each one of us. In fact, God made us not materially, but as Love’s own spiritual, infinitely loved expression. We exist to reflect God, just like a likeness in a mirror. So we all have a natural ability to express spiritual qualities that are valuable and help us be successful.
At first, my husband was tempted to believe he was indeed less valuable. He was also concerned about providing for our young family if he lost his job. We both affirmed that as God’s beloved creation, he had infinite value, and that God guides each of us harmoniously and intelligently, enabling us to express, in our own lives, qualities that are valuable and valued. That was the only true assessment we needed to consider for the day. We prayed together with these ideas until we felt peaceful.
Then, shortly before the end of the day, my husband called me again to say the most amazing thing had happened – something we both attributed to our prayers that morning. His manager had had an unexpected visit from a former co-worker of my husband’s from a previous job completely unrelated to the work my husband was now doing. That former co-worker had been surprised to see my husband there and spontaneously declared, “Wow, you have a super guy here working for you. He’s a keeper!” He might as well have been Charlotte, displaying a banner above my husband’s head. The manager responded, “Oh, I know it.” The formerly tense atmosphere melted, and he and my husband ended up working together productively for several more years.
When we see that a right sense of self is determined and directed by our loving Father-Mother God, we stop looking to an outside source to validate our worth. Instead, we can be confident in God as the infinite source of love and, as a result, feel and express a greater sense of love. The Christly message, “You are my beloved child,” is true for each one of us. That’s reason enough to appreciate ourselves and others.
Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, @CSMonitor