Worthless

by Jonathan Trotter on June 7, 2015

I feel worthless.

The feeling rises and crests like an impending wave barreling towards the surface of my heart. And with each wave of worthlessness comes an intense weariness of soul, a near drowning.

The breakers seem to rise from nowhere. I can’t predict them, and that makes me mad. They’re not tied to whether my work or ministry is going well or faltering. They don’t seem to be related to whether or not folks approve of (or agree with) me. They just come. And break.

worthless.b

I wonder if I’m alone. Am I?

I don’t know enough of this language.
I’ll never know enough of this language.

I don’t know what I’m doing.
I have fewer skills than I thought I had.
I have fewer skills than they think I have.
I wonder when they’ll find out.

I haven’t accomplished what I came here to do.
I’ll never accomplish what I came here to do.
What did I come here to do?

This country doesn’t need me.
There are a lot of workers here already.
What can I do?

My passport country doesn’t need me.
There are a lot of workers there already.
I have nothing to offer.
I am worthless.

And the waves of worthlessness crash. And then I crash.

Do you know the feeling? I wonder how many of us know the feeling. I wonder how many of us have drowned in this feeling.

So now, I want to speak to the drowning ones, those gulping for air under the waves. To you, and to myself, I say “Remember your God who descends.”

“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.” 
Psalm 116:1-2

Allow these truths to wash over your soul:

God not only hears your prayer, He hears your voice. He hears you, not just some list of words strung together in the form of adoration or petition or whatever. He is near enough to hear your voice, and loving enough to care.

He descends. He bends down to listen, to hear you. He’s not a distant, aloof dad who requires his children to “speak up and for goodness sake enunciate.” He bends down to love you. This is your God.

He is not a God hidden away in a Holy Place, high on a hill. He is not sulking behind a giant curtain in a Temple, coldly demanding allegiance “or else.” He is a God who takes that Temple curtain, that holiness, and wraps it around His own flesh and blood and bones and joins you. And wonder of wonders, He wraps you up in His holiness, covering your worthlessness, calling you worthy.

Worthy of His affection.

Worthy of His love.

Even worthy of His dance.

So if you find yourself drowning in worthlessness, remember. Remember the King who descends. Remember the Father who sings. Remember that He loved you before you even accomplished breathing.

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
It is well with my soul.

More thoughts from the dark:
Demon & Divine

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About Jonathan Trotter

Jonathan is a missionary in Southeast Asia, where he provides pastoral counseling at a local counseling center. He also serves as one of the pastors at an international church. Before moving to the field with his wife of sixteen years and their four kids, he served as a youth pastor in the Midwest for ten years. He enjoys walking with people towards Jesus and eating imported Twizzlers. | www.trotters41.com | facebook: trotters41 | twitter: @trotters41
  • You are SO not alone. Thank you for being a voice of truth and hope.

    • Thanks so much, Kay! I’ve appreciated your honesty and vulnerability in this forum so much too!

  • Casey

    You have such a gift for putting words to feelings. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Casey! Sometimes I wish I could put words to feelings without having to experience the feelings first! That’s the messy part… : )

  • So beautiful. So powerful. So true. What a post, Jonathan.

    • Thanks so much, Danielle. And may you dance with Him throughout this new season of life. Oh, and say hello to my sisters at OCC! : )

  • Great post…

  • Abounding hope in Him.
    That was beautifully expressed, thanks. . Just happened to stumble upon the blog this morning and it was for sure a love note from God, a much needed love note.

    • That’s awesome! I’m so glad God does stuff like that for his kids…

  • Isn’t it just amazing that our Creator bends down to us, hears our voice, loves us? The picture is overwhelming! It makes me want to emulate that with my children. How tender and loving it is to really, truly hear someone.

    • Indeed! This passage has caused me to pause and think not only about my kids, but also as I work cross-culturally. Do I pause long enough to listen? To really hear what’s being said? Often we’re near enough to hear, but do we care enough to listen?

  • MaDonna

    The writer in me loved how you used self-dialogue in verse to relate the feelings of crashing waves. They start small and just seem to get bigger and stronger with each one. Engulfing. Overwhelming.
    But, the truth you carry in the words are so much more important.
    “He is not a God hidden away in a Holy Place, high on a hill. He is not sulking behind a giant curtain in a Temple, coldly demanding allegiance “or else.” He is a God who takes that Temple curtain, that holiness, and wraps it around His own flesh and blood and bones and joins you. And wonder of wonders, He wraps you up in His holiness, covering your worthlessness, calling you worthy.”
    May others hear the message and continue on the path that the Lord has called them to go.
    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, MaDonna! And I whole-heartedly echo your prayer… “May others hear the message and continue on the path that the Lord has called them to go.”

  • Maggi

    You asked if you’re alone in this experience. That was a rhetorical question if I ever heard one! 🙂 (Why are so many people reading this blog?) I’m currently making my own list of personal favs here and this got put on it before I even finished reading! And I so relate to your statement in a comment to someone else: “Sometimes I wish I could put words to feelings without having to experience the feelings first!” That sure would be great!

    • Hey, thanks for the encouragement, Maggi! And may the God of all peace be with you as you “experience the feelings first.” : )

      • Maggi

        Thanks! He is. Keep writing – that’s one of the methods He uses to bring peace.

  • Victor Leggett

    I Too Felt Worthless; Then Something Changed

    After living outside of the United States for 17 and having returned back last year to Texas, I can only evoke the words: Brilliantly written and executed.

    I returned from Indonesia in July 2016. It is now 11 at night in the middle of May 2017. My “Who Am I” identity was completely destroyed layer by layer. Outside the U.S.: a secure job as an English teacher at an International school, high status in society, a mini-celebrity feeling everywhere I went while in Asia, an ease of financial comfort, a respected member of the community, commited girlfriend, team player at school, strong network of friends, active church member and committed Aikido (a Japanese martial arts instructor) practicing and teaching 4-5 times a week . . .

    Back in the States: “Sorry, but overseas experience is unacceptable.” Everything requires certification – from babysitting to some Janitor positions. The qualified certification centers all require time and money.

    Thus, upon return back to the States – a harsh reality: I lost everything slowly, little by little: Unemployed and unable to get a full-time job (only working part time with local community college teaching Adult Education), living at home with parents, loss girlfriend who is now here in the States in another states, who was willing to stand next to me – but I was thinking irrationally and took her for granted, no strong network of friends, reverse culture shock, negative thinking and moments of sadness (not quite depression), has set in more times than I care to admit.

    I found a near-by church home which has been a God-send. Bible study on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, Zumba class and Spanish class. Plus, a give-it-to-me straight pastor from Detroit has been helpful and directing my focus and re-identifying with “Who I Am” and the need to create new goals for where I am right now with my life.

    Praise God for struggling. It was good to lose everything. Trust me – I thought I would never say that. I see life from a very different perspective now. The path I am on now is not so self absorbed. Putting others first and simply thanking God for his marvelous wonder each and every day. He has led me beside many green pastures. I was walking in a valley of death and even some days right now, but I fear no evil. I have a rod and staff to comfort me.

    It is because I struggle and lost everything that I see things with fresh eyes. I believe I have more hard days ahead, but I rejoice becuase I am learning now to NOT rely on my own ways and thinking which have been counter productive.

    Lean not on my own understanding and fully trust in him with EVERYTHING. That is HARD to do. Easy, to say, but hard to apply in every part of your life. “. . . Come, follow Me. When the young man heard this, he went away in sorrow, because he had great wealth.” Yes. I had great wealth. But losing everything and applying things one by one with open eyes has been rewarding. I am understanding some things I never understood.

    “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” I am beginning to hear things I heard 200 times before, but beginning understand exactly what they mean now. I am beginning to see things I have witnessed 500 times with fresh eyes. You don’t change in one day, but I am changing daily. Hallelujah.

    To God be the Glory. I am thankful for my God.

    Trust me, there are days I still feel worthless. But once I begin counting my blessings one by one (the ability to see, the ability to walk, the ability to complain or to talk, clothes on my back, the ability to reject food in the last 24 hours, I woke up with breathe this morning, not having to control the Sunrise and sunset . . .)

    I can only praise God for all he as given and done for me. Transforming complain to praise. You have a choice everyday. Complaining is simple. So is praising. Either one is a habit. Each day that habit gets easier and easier to do. You don’t change in a day, but you do change daily.

    Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony with you. When I started I was disheartened and feeling blue, but after writing and sharing, I can smile.

    Again, To God be the Glory.

    with a smile,
    Victor

  • Victor Leggett

    I Too Felt Worthless; Then Something Changed

    After living outside of the United States for 17 and having returned back last year to Texas, I can only evoke the words: Brilliantly written and executed.

    I returned from Indonesia in July 2016. It is now 11 at night in the middle of May 2017. My “Who Am I” identity was completely destroyed layer by layer. Outside the U.S.: a secure job as an English teacher at an International school, high status in society, a mini-celebrity feeling everywhere I went while in Asia, an ease of financial comfort, a respected member of the community, commited girlfriend, team player at school, strong network of friends, active church member and committed Aikido (a Japanese martial arts instructor) practicing and teaching 4-5 times a week . . .

    Back in the States: “Sorry, but overseas experience is unacceptable.” Everything requires certification – from babysitting to some Janitor positions. The qualified certification centers all require time and money.

    Thus, upon return back to the States – a harsh reality: I lost everything slowly, little by little: Unemployed and unable to get a full-time job (only working part time with local community college teaching Adult Education), living at home with parents, loss girlfriend who is now here in the States in another states, who was willing to stand next to me – but I was thinking irrationally and took her for granted, no strong network of friends, reverse culture shock, negative thinking and moments of sadness (not quite depression), has set in more times than I care to admit.

    I found a near-by church home which has been a God-send. Bible study on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, Zumba class and Spanish class. Plus, a give-it-to-me straight pastor from Detroit has been helpful and directing my focus and re-identifying with “Who I Am” and the need to create new goals for where I am right now with my life.

    Praise God for struggling. It was good to lose everything. Trust me – I thought I would never say that. I see life from a very different perspective now. The path I am on now is not so self absorbed. Putting others first and simply thanking God for his marvelous wonder each and every day. He has led me beside many green pastures. I was walking in a valley of death and even some days right now, but I fear no evil. I have a rod and staff to comfort me.

    It is because I struggle and lost everything that I see things with fresh eyes. I believe I have more hard days ahead, but I rejoice becuase I am learning now to NOT rely on my own ways and thinking which have been counter productive.

    Lean not on my own understanding and fully trust in him with EVERYTHING. That is HARD to do. Easy, to say, but hard to apply in every part of your life. “. . . Come, follow Me. When the young man heard this, he went away in sorrow, because he had great wealth.” Yes. I had great wealth. But losing everything and applying things one by one with open eyes has been rewarding. I am understanding some things I never understood.

    “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” I am beginning to hear things I heard 200 times before, but beginning understand exactly what they mean now. I am beginning to see things I have witnessed 500 times with fresh eyes. You don’t change in one day, but I am changing daily. Hallelujah.

    To God be the Glory. I am thankful for my God.

    Trust me, there are days I still feel worthless. But once I begin counting my blessings one by one (the ability to see, the ability to walk, the ability to complain or to talk, clothes on my back, the ability to reject food in the last 24 hours, I woke up with breathe this morning, not having to control the Sunrise and sunset . . .)

    I can only praise God for all he as given and done for me. Transforming complain to praise. You have a choice everyday. Complaining is simple. So is praising. Either one is a habit. Each day that habit gets easier and easier to do. You don’t change in a day, but you do change daily.

    Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony with you. When I started I was disheartened and feeling blue, but after writing and sharing, I can smile.

    Again, To God be the Glory.

    with a smile,
    Victor

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