It’s not an easy thing to do.
Knowing your values. We all think we know. I will argue that we don’t. I takes discipline to get to the bedrock of our life. Arrogance can creep in unannounced and trick us into believing we are something we are not. I felt like the minute I identified mine they dribbled away like water from my hand. I couldn’t simply write something down on a piece of paper. What I was asked to do was identify my values. No one had ever done that before.
Let’s start with something simple. A lot of people say, “I value family.” But, what if beneath that value of family lies a bedrock value of order. People order their lives in such a way that family comes first. Family is golden. Family gets the best. They get our attention, time, money and emotions. But, why do we get resentful when the family we value so dearly acts like….human beings? They betray us, let us down, disappoint us or don’t meet our expectations. Resentment can be a revelational partner. "Why don’t they remember my birthday?" A valued family member envies our job position and makes comments like, “You make a lot of money. So, why don’t you take care of it?” Once in a while is all right. But, soon it becomes awkward and then it leads to tension. Or here is a good one. That beloved family member regift the gift you gave them at Christmas. That gift cost you endless hours of searching on line. You may have even ordered it early for them because you knew it would be out of stock. (sigh) Remember what I suggested. Family is not the value. Order is the value. First, second, last…those positions matter to you.
Let’s try another value like service. Sometimes people tell me serving is their value. But, what is actually happening inside is they love the feeling of accomplishment. I often hear, “I feel so good when I am here contributing and accomplishing something at Hesed House!” Instant gratification can mean that I receive something to show for my effort. I delivered food, participated by cooking a meal or listened to someone’s story. Satisfaction for a job well done cannot be ignored. When we live a life filled with doing things for others but never getting any recognition or reward, we can feel taken advantage of and can feel like we’ve achieved nothing in the process. Achievement is the bedrock value not service. Serving is the means to accomplishing something and feeling satisfied.
Trust is almost always at the top of the list of values for people. I wonder if it is there because we know deep down we cannot be trusted. We all lie and we are lied to everyday millions of times. Turn on the television. Google it. Advertisers and marketing campaigns enforce lies that continue to bombard us by telling us in creative and intense ways that we're not good enough—so we buy their product. So, when someone looks us in the eye and tells us the truth or they can be trusted with the gory details of our story we are utterly amazed—even shocked! We’ve found a true pearl. I would challenge you to consider that even though trust is a major issue it’s not really your bedrock value. Loyalty is the foundation you build your house upon. Loyalty can be a commitment that no matter what happens—no matter how many times lies, deception and false expectations are played out—we’re still connected. We are still loved. We still matter. We are loyal and will defend what is precious to us.
So there you have it. It isn’t easy. But, I believe it it crucial to your life. I came to believe it was crucial to mine. I began ordering my personal life differently because I was allowing patterns of negative thinking I inherited from my family to intersect where God was at work. I will save that discovery process for another blog. But, know this: the quest for discovering your values is a worthy journey. I’m frustrated with some of my choices because I am convicted to my core about how much time, money and emotional resources I wasted. I’m serious. It was easy for me to get caught up in things that don’t really matter in the long run. So, I am working on becoming more free with myself, my gifts and my love. Freedom came from knowing I am an individual made in God’s image. We reflect God when we are authentic to who we are—maybe created to be--and don’t try to be someone we are not. Go be awesome. There is no one like you. You are worthy. Jesus thought so that’s why he secured your place with him in heaven. YOU are Jesus’ eternal focus. Yes, you. You are His bedrock value.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NIV