As I sit here and begin writing I received a notification on my phone. I look over and it is a text from my cousin in Puerto Rico. The message read “a basketball in my hands is worth six dollars, a basketball in the hands of Michael Jordan is worth thirty-three million”. I read this and the first thing that came to my mind was my story. I have realized that I have an infinite worth. I didn’t always know that though. It was a long path of many tears and difficult experiences to make me realize this. I was blessed with a wonderful childhood. Both my parents were great examples of how to live a righteous life. They were not excellent members of a church, they were excellent parents. They modeled for us what it was to have a healthy marriage. My father was always a respectful man who honored his wife. Seeing the love they had for one other was very refreshing to witness even in a society where the divorce rates kept rising. I can honestly say I had everything I needed in my home and my family, but there was something missing. I didn’t really value myself. I always battled with my self-image. It started with me not being happy with what I saw in the mirror but ended with me not being able to really take advantage of the love that God had to offer me. After all how can someone love me if I can’t love myself? I knew what the Bible said. I read it all the time. Romans 5:8 God shows His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What did that mean to me if I didn’t understand how He can love me even with all my imperfections? I now understand the word of God on paper will be just that if we don’t allow him to fully come to life within us. The lack of love that I had for myself only complicated my decisions. I began doing things that were not aligned with the purpose that God had for me. I entered a toxic relationship that took me to a downward spiral. Day after day I allowed myself to be mistreated by someone who said that they loved me, but their actions said otherwise. I will never forget a day that in the middle of an argument with this young man he looked me in my eyes, spit in my face, and said “YOU ARE TRASH AND NOBODY WILL EVER LOVE YOU.” Although these words sound so hateful and they didn’t define me, I made the choice to allow them into my heart.
When I finally broke free of this relationship I never broke free from those words. This is when I began to battle with so many other things in my life. Depression became my constant companion. It followed me everywhere that I would go. It became my best friend. The nights that I didn’t have anyone to talk to, depression would always be present. The days that I was mad and hated who I was, depression was always present. I could not shake her off. She was someone who I associated myself with. I have heard many people say “How can you feel that way if you are so great” but the reality is that is not what I saw. It would be the easy way out to blame this relationship for what I was experiencing. I can easily say “he made me feel this way.” The reality is that the one who had the power to take those words in was me. I made the choice to take that moment and turn it into a milestone in my life. For ten years, I carried around the burden of feeling this horrible feeling of worthlessness. I became so accustomed to these feelings that they became a part of who I was. I was so good at pretending that I was okay and no one seemed to notice. I would like to say that one day everything changed in my life. It was one of those days that you just get tired of carrying all that dead weight on you. I spoke to God and the only thing I told him was “I am tired”. I grew tired of allowing myself to ignore that sacrifice that Jesus did on that cross. I grew tired of allowing myself to be blind before the word when it says in 1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. I decided that it was time to really see that!
I was getting ready to go to church and in tears as I ironed my clothes I told the lord “TODAY IS THE DAY!”. I remember feeling like if I had just been in the operating room. I felt someone operating in my heart. I felt as if I was in a hospital room I could even smell that hospital scent. The reality was that I was being transformed through his word. The Lord was working in my life. He didn’t have to do it through anyone but his Holy Spirit. I remember that day I felt so light. As if I was floating in the air. This was the first day of the rest of my life. When I realized how much value I had, I entered into a new dimension in the Lord. I don’t know where I would be right now had I not realized this. The many times I tried to take my life all because I didn’t realize that I was so valuable. As that basketball in the hands of Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player, I am worth millions in the hands of the Lord. What makes the item valuable is not the item itself, it is he who is holding it in their hands. The truth is that what makes me have this infinite worth is not the talents that I have or the skills that every day I use. It is that the Lord decided to take me in. This concept changed my life forever. I can’t imagine how I can be a successful woman without understanding this. Today as a mother, I strive to let my son understand how amazing he is. I tell him every day how much he is worth in hopes that he will always remember the great value that he has. I have a loving relationship that has all those great things that my parents' marriage had. I no longer allow men to make me feel any other way than that one which God has made me to be. I am valuable. I am great. I am beautiful. I am amazing. Best of all I have the love of God that reminds me every day that his love is so great that only He can turn my sadness into joy. It took me many years to realize this, but today I can say I am a worth more than all the gold on this earth! Emily Peña