Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why I Blog #2: Self-Worth

Writing the previous post took me back to the past. Actually, the full-time Finnish course started 10 months after I moved to Finland. There was an evening Finnish course in autumn that year, but it wasn't that effective 'coz there were only 20-25 hours of lessons in the course of 3 months. It did help a little, esp. in making me meet other expats living in Sodankylä, but it was not enough for our (all the expats) needs.

Anyhow, I remember during that period I was struggling with my self-worth. The world's voices became SO jarringly loud in my inner ears that I was shaken to the core. I felt "useless" as a human being. I knew I had to start life all over again from zero, but because I'm an adult and not a child, the transition was tough. I had to rely on R2 for many things 'coz in many government offices here (like KELA and employment office), most of them didn't speak English that well (or maybe they're just too shy to do so or they're mostly passive speakers).

I remember on one occasion before I learnt enough Finnish, I went to the employment office alone, told them in English very slowly what I wanted, but the woman sitting in front of me was at a loss on what to say to me. She did understand what I wanted, but she didn't know how to reply me. She grabbed a small Finnish-English dictionary and frantically tried to find the words she needed. I don't remember anymore if another woman helped us or not (vaguely I remember a woman from the next booth leaning in to help) - but in the end in very broken English she told me what she thought.

Anyhow, so I felt "crippled" in many ways at that time. I felt "useless" because this world puts so much emphasis on achievements. What are you? Who are you? What do you do? What is your profession? What is your contribution to the world? How many kids do you have? Where do you live? Do you have this and that and this and that?

I was "only" a wife. We had no kids. I had plenty of time to kill. My self-worth took a huge dip. I had to learn to use different kinds of tools which I had never seen in my entire life. I had to learn to adjust to life in a cold country. I was determined to enjoy every single moment and I did enjoy many moments and my life with R2 (no traffic jam, fresh air, etc. etc. etc.), but my self-worth was still shaken.

R2 has been tremendous support for me 'coz he's NEVER EVER made me feel stupid, even when I do make stupid mistakes. And thankfully my parents-in-law have been such WONDERFUL help in making my life easier (especially MIL). This in itself is a GREAT blessing 'coz we meet once a week.

However, I had to struggle with my own broken self-worth. I had to remember over and over again that in God's eyes, I'm precious just the way I am. In His eye, each creation is precious. It was so hard to believe that when the world is screaming, "You're nothing when you don't accomplish anything."

During this time I remembered a relative of mine who'd been bedridden for many years (over a dozen years and now perhaps it's almost two decades already). In the beginning his memory was still active, but unfortunately lately it's dwindled a lot (I know this 'coz we visited him a few times over the past decade). I thought of him and pondered, "In God's eyes, he's still as precious as I am. He still loves him as much as He loves me, even though the world thinks he's nothing 'coz he can't work anymore nor can he eat or do other things on his own."

It was really tough to drown out the voices of the world, but over time it got better and better - or at least easier to take a step back and soak in God's love instead of believing what the world says.

Blogging has helped me with my self-worth, as well. After finding friends and being able to interact with them more, I felt more "useful". Even though I may not be able to do anything much, the least I could do was to support someone who needed it and gave encouragement. But still the underlying lesson I learnt during that period was that: In God's eye, each one of us is precious. Period.

Life has plenty of surprises, though...infertility shook my core and my self-worth again. In the beginning, thinking that I wouldn't be able to be a mother made me wonder about my self-worth. Who am I if I can't become a mother then? Motherhood has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements on earth. I was in a daze in the beginning of our infertility journey and again I had to cling on God's sight when it comes to self-worth.

Yeah, I thought I had learnt the lesson already, but it seemed I still have a LONG way to go. Now that we've surrendered to life without kids, my self-worth has been going steadier compared to the days when we were still actively TTC (trying to conceive). But it was really a long and winding journey. I suppose you can learn the same/similar life lessons in different angles, depth, height, and breadth over the course of a lifetime.

I think one friend of mine summed it the best in one of her emails:

Our glorious Lord NEVER looks down on us, not once! He knows what we all are from the very start: a lump of dirt that He formed, He chose and decided to create and love anyhow, even when He knew all the chaos and rottenness we mankind would eventually turn into. So there is NOTHING we can do to give ourselves any more value that what we already had from the beginning: the value of piece of dirt. Well that dirt happened to be LOVED, CHERISHED, and DELIGHTED by God. The Mighty Creator delights and rejoices in us, literally jumping in joy because of us, for NO REASON at all, but the fact that He IS LOVE, it's simply His nature."


  1. This post was a wake-up call for me. I never really stopped to think that my own low self-worth showed a lack of respect for God, but you are right - who are we to label ourselves as "no good" or "worthless", when doing so is blatantly going against God's will.

    And by the way - you mentioned never being a mother. I just want to say that some of the best mothers I've ever met are not the biological parents of their children. Don't forget that. You don't have to get pregnant in order to be a fantastic mother.

  2. You know that as a one of the few fellow foreigners in this little town, I have had very similar feelings, not only in the beginning, but continuing. I endeavour to stop trying to prove myself here... now it is more a case of - just take me as I am and if you don't approve...tough.

    You are not alone Amel in feeling that, I just wanted you to know that.

    You are my friend and you're precious. Period.

  3. These blogs summing up the reasons for blogging are awesome. I learned so much more about you, and truly, came away impressed.
    The fact is that you have relied on and continue to have a very good relationship with God.
    I've always been impressed with R2 & your relationship (by the way, I really appreciate him friending me on Facebook. If you have time, let him know I say,"THANKS!").

    Also, a person has to make different blogs for different readers. You were honest with me when I wrote about politics and joined a whole new network that would help me & give me ideas about politics.

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  5. @Katriina: THANK YOU for your encouragement. Glad that this post made you think. :-)

    @Mrs. Rainbow: I guess that's one of the pressures foreigners feel in a new country, eh? Proving yourself and proving your worth...even though it's supposed to be embedded in us "simply because we are worthy". THANKS for sharing your feelings. I thought you'd already passed through these stages, though.

    The feeling's mutual, Michelle. You're my good friend and you're PRECIOUS, too. :-)))

    @ChicagoWing: I'll let R2 know. :-) THANKS for having been a faithful blogger friend after all this time, Vince.

    Yeah, I was thinking that it's nicer to have a different blog for a different niche. You're absolutely correct. :-)

  6. What a very honest post. I think we all struggle with our self worth sometimes, our place in society, our achievements. But how refreshing it is to read your extract and remind ourselves we are all precious and loved. For the record, I believe he's looking down proudly at you. You're one of the good peeps in life.

  7. @The World According to Me: Yeah, you're right about struggling with self-worth. It's a lifetime struggle, eh? He he he...I'm glad you enjoyed my post, though. :-)))

    THANK YOU for your kind words, Nikki! I TRULY appreciate it. :-D