What do you think you’re worth? Do you know? Michelle Donnelly helps us assess our real value.
My Value and My Jewelry
By Michelle Donnelly
“I’m here to sell my rings,” I sheepishly mumbled to the jewelry store clerk. She smiled gently and ushered me through a back door to a cramped closet-turned-office. It was the kind of space with far too much furniture per square foot, obnoxiously bright from the fluorescent tubes suspended above. The beady-eyed jeweler carefully inspected my platinum and diamond wedding ring set, declaring simply, “I can give you $350 for it.”
He peered up from his loupe only for a second, dodging the prospect of making actual eye contact with me. I knew he wanted to both catch and avoid my reaction all at the same time. After all, he didn’t know how I would react to the news that my once-precious treasure was now worth only a fraction of what it had originally cost.
I later came to understand that through the jeweler’s years of experience with a revolving door of divorcees, he knew that more than just my rings’ value was being called into question in that room.
He knew I was re-evaluating me.
However, what the jeweler couldn’t have known was that the questioning of my own worth was not something that had started with my divorce, nor had it commenced in the years of explosive arguments preceding it. It was something that had plagued me in my youngest years, before I was even aware of my questions. And it would continue for years beyond the moment I left the jeweler’s office with that pittance of a check in my hand.
After pawning my rings, I didn’t know what to feel – what I was supposed to feel. I’d always been overly concerned in life with showing up the way I thought other people wanted me to. Needed me to. What emerged from my childhood insecurity about my place in the world was the persona of “Pulled Together Michelle,” a need-suppressing, overachieving, brutally perfectionistic yes-woman.
In the months following my divorce, the inherent deficits of single motherhood exposed my limits and the super-polished facade of “Pulled Together Michelle” began to crack. Without the cover of my carefully-curated self, I was confronted with the glaring reality of all I had unknowingly labored my entire life to hide. When I looked in the mirror, I finally acknowledged the desperate woman-child looking back at me. She had never thought much of her looks, her body, or her soul. She had been made broken and needy through self-rejection. What I needed was a deep, as-is self-acceptance that could only come by seeing myself through the eyes of God.
Um, hello daunting.
The problem was I wasn’t sure how to actually do that. I mean, I had been a Christian my entire life and in my thirty-sixth year still hadn’t gotten very far. So I did the only thing I know to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed – I began to write.
Throughout my life, I’ve always written or journaled in some capacity but had let my passion lapse in the wake of my broken marriage. For I time, I had no words – only tears. But the dam finally broke, and in my feeble writings I poured the entire contents of my heart on God. My anger. My disappointment. My questions. My desires. My hope.
As I wrote, God began revealing his gorgeous thoughts towards me, and I began to heal. In my healing, God unveiled my true self, the woman that he intentionally fashioned with a uniqueness that he continues to take delight in.
This was the start, but I craved more of the enlivened awareness of God’s purposeful creation of me. What more had he put inside of me? God invited me to explore. I began to hike. And listen to Christian hip-hop. And play with makeup. And build bonfires with my kids and our friends.
In it all, I am still discovering what it means to more fully enjoy my Creator. But the first step was finally allowing myself to appreciate what he had created in me.
I have my moments of self-doubt when minor failures expose my occasional reliance on that old performance-driven mentality. And usually then I begin to write and reflect on all that is lovely in this more-valuable-than-gems version of me.
Michelle Donnelly is a single mother of three, and firmly believes that women can discover a life of passion and purpose as they journey with God through brokenness and heartbreak. Her passion for encouraging single mothers led her to develop an online community for single moms called Agape Moms. She is also the producer / host of The Christian Single Moms Podcast and author of Seen: Hope and Healing for Single Moms. You can learn more about Agape Moms by visiting agapemoms.com.