On bended knee, Denise (not her real name) begged Jerick (pseudo name) to stay. But he was firm and said he was leaving her for good.
Desperate to keep him, she knelt down and hugged his legs tightly, determined not to let go. With tears streaming down her face, she desperately begged, “Please stay. I can’t live without you! I’ve given you everything! My body is yours.” She sobbed as she opened the buttons of her shirt. “If my begging wouldn’t work, then probably he would stay if I successfully seduce him” she thought. But Jerick uttered words that would shatter her heart. Taking her hands off his legs harshly as if she was a pest, he yelled, “I don’t love you anymore! I had enough of you! I’m sick and tired of your body! Let me go!” And off he went never to return again.
Denise was left on the floor crying. She was broken - confused, feeling unworthy, unwanted, unloved. She wondered what went wrong. All those years in their relationship she did nothing but love him. Whenever he wanted her, she would be so willing to give him her all – body and soul. She thought that because it was her body that lured him to her, then it was her body that would keep him. But she was wrong. Jerick wanted to taste another dish.
As I was listening to her story, my world was shattered too. I held her face and told her, “You are worthy of real, authentic love no matter what happened in your past.” I was deeply hurt though I wasn’t there when Jerick dumped Denise as if she was useless trash. So much resonated in me. In her eyes I saw a child longing for appreciation and love; I saw me.
When I was a kid, I heard the words, “You are worth nothing” from the mouth of someone who is supposed to uplift me – my mom.
The wound created by that statement was wide and deep. Growing up I struggled with self-worth. For so long I wondered if I would ever be good enough to deserve love. And so I became a perfectionist. I thought I should not make the slightest mistake so I could be accepted. I did well in school and up to this day I remembered a particular moment which tore me to pieces. When I graduated in elementary on top of my class, I was so proud. I hanged my academic medals on our wall only for my mom to throw them away, telling me I was creating a mess. I was wrong in thinking my medals would buy her love.
Our mother-daughter relationship was a difficult ride. We would always clash. I became rebellious in a way that I would answer her back every time she scolded me. She labelled me as the black sheep. In my young mind I believed I was bad and incapable of doing something right. I was often compared to my older sister. My mom would say, “Why can’t you be like her?” In fairness to my older sister, she was really just silent when mom would scold her. She wouldn’t say a word. Tears would just stream from her eyes. Don’t get me wrong. I love my sister. I adore her. She is the tamest person I know. But I couldn’t be like her. When I was young, I envied her. She was often praised for being silent and polite. I wanted to be like her. To me, it felt like I had to be her so mom would also appreciate me. But I couldn’t shut my mouth whenever my mom would start to pinpoint my failings. There was something inside me screaming to be heard, to be wanted, to be loved.
There was a very dramatic fight I had with my mom. I was born and raised in Bohol. Right after college, I went to Manila to seek work. In one of my visits to my hometown, my mom had a breakdown. She told me she never felt that I loved her. I was furious and answered back, “If sacrificing for our family isn’t love, then how would you call it? If going to Manila on my own, dealing with loneliness away from home just to provide for our needs and help send my younger sister to college isn’t love, then what is love for you?” I was slapped for asking those questions. But it wasn’t her slap that hurt me the most. It was being told that I never loved her. I flew back to Manila without reconciling with her. I was hurting and I believe she was too.
The most remarkable turning point in our relationship happened on my wedding day. My mom is a very talented singer though she isn’t famous, nor a recording artist. She only sings at home or during videoke parties around the neighbourhood or sometimes in a small variety show in our village. She is often praised for her beautiful voice and though she didn’t know it, I’m her number 1 fan. Days before the wedding I requested for her to render a song at our wedding reception. To my delight, she said yes but on the wedding day itself, when the host called her name, she refused to sing. I asked why and I was stunned when she said, “I might not be able to finish the song, nor start. My heart is in so much pain.”
She requested for the host to give us time to have a mother-daughter dance instead. Because the host wasn’t prepared for that moment, he just played the same song my new husband and I danced to which is entitled “When God Made You”. And that was one of the most beautiful dances I ever had.
In between sobs, she whispered, “I’m sorry for everything.” She cried her heart out and kept on repeating the words, “I’m sorry”. That opened the floodgates of tears in my eyes. I couldn’t say a word because I was so immersed with the moment of being hugged by her so lovingly. I just hugged her more tightly than when we first stood on the dance floor. She told me she didn’t mean to hurt me, that she loves me although at times she failed to show it. My mom opened up her heart and told me that because she was an orphan, she didn’t know how to parent a child. That broke my heart. In that delicate, pure moment of melting in my mom’s arms, I came to realize that deep within her is a child longing to be loved too just like me. Her mother died when she was at a tender age of 9. Her father was devastated with the death of his wife so he got addicted to alcohol which eventually led him to his death when my mother was just 12. My mom was left with her brother; her only sibling. She had nothing but him and so they worked together in order to survive. They had been together through the toughest of times. Mom recalled how at 12 years old she fell on the floor when she carried a toddler she was babysitting who was apparently healthier and bigger than her. Life was harsh on her and the wounds it created remained deep within her and affected her relationships. As I was hugging her, beautiful memories flooded. I realized she loved me in a way she knew how.
Our relationship now isn’t perfect. Yet I believe God is working mighty deeds in her heart and in mine. We can now tell each other “I love you”.
The deep wound created by the feeling of unworthiness I had is now being used by God to identify with those who are broken hearted and are questioning their own self-worth.
The world is full of people like Denise and Jerick. There are many women who can identify with Denise and men who are like Jerick. Maybe Jerick was also going through his own brokenness which led him to hurt the women in his life. This is the reason why my husband and I felt the calling to minister to broken people. We are not perfect yet we pray for God’s grace to bless others through our own brokenness, pain, and sufferings.
In one of the chapters of Worth the Chase (Finding Love God’s Way), a book my husband and I co-wrote, we talked about joy in the midst of pain. Suffering is a gift and pain is essential. Walking with Jesus doesn’t mean we will never stumble; it means falling over and over and over again but having the courage to stand amidst the rocky paths of life.
To the women reading this, please do not believe in a lie that you have to give your body to your boyfriend to earn love. A man of God would wait for the right time; he will not lead you to sin, he will lead you to God. However, if you stumble in this area already, there is hope. Jesus doesn’t condemn you. He loves you so much, He loves you beyond your sins. By His grace, you can recommit your life to Him and live a life of purity again. Purity is not just physical. We are also called to be pure in mind, heart, and soul. Thus it is also spiritual.
To the men reading this, please treat the women in your life as daughters of God just as you want to be treated with respect and dignity for being a son of God. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore please view your own body and the body of the woman you are dating as such. We are called to respect our bodies and wait until the covenant of marriage before we give ourselves totally in a faithful and permanent relationship. That is directly related to the dignity of every person.
With Jesus, we never have to question our worth. He never fails to remind us of our true identity – that is, as sons and daughters of God, we are made in His image and likeness. That is who are we are. Even when we were in sin, God loved us first. We don’t even have to prove anything or do something great to earn His love. He loves us no matter what. And that is our true worth.
Elly Roberts is an author, speaker, and artist. She uses her God-given gifts to serve God and His people. Having experienced so much suffering from childhood, she dreams of building a foundation for abandoned kids. She has counseled many women on mending a broken heart and finding love. Her writing style is very personal, honest, humble, and inspiring.
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