I spent a good portion of my girlish youth working in retail. I worked at a couple of different stores and have the kind of nightmare stories that many of you couldn’t even imagine! But despite the horror of people peeing in fitting rooms (you read that right) or customers screaming at me, my least favorite part of working in retail was inventory markdowns. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say markdowns were invented and instituted by Satan himself. For those of you unfamiliar with this, markdowns are when a store’s employees work through the night scanning every single solitary item in the store to see if it has gone on clearance. The scene is like a battlefield. Everyone has a handheld scanning gun and is trying to quickly find all the markdowns in hopes of leaving before the sun comes up. Brutal.
However, the one thing I loved about markdowns was that I would be the first to know when something I’d been eyeing was finally on clearance! That, my friends, made the whole thing worth it! Imagine, for months, swooning over a dress valued at $100 and in an instant it’s yours for $19.99! And all you had to do was miss out on the sweet joys of life for a 16-hour work shift.
Though at that moment I was getting a “steal,” I was keenly aware that businesses were seriously pulling one over on people with their price mark ups. I knew in reality that dress was never worth $100 but $19.99 (or less) all along. Company headquarters finally realized they couldn’t pull the wool over customer’s eyes any longer and finally marked the garment at the price of its true value. It’s the reason there would be certain expensive designer pieces, which inventory after inventory, would never go down in price. Seasons could come and go but lavish silk, beautiful wool, or hand beaded garments would never end up on the clearance rack. The designer would rather their garments be shipped back to the manufacturer before they would allow it to end up next to faux suede in a clearance bin. You can’t have Vera Wang quality at Kmart prices, because Vera knows how valuable her clothes are.
Want to know something crazy? Everyday I see fearfully and wonderfully made young women who don’t realize that they too have been designed and given a costly value. I see beautiful Christian women, who don’t know their worth, allowing someone or something other than their Creator to appraise them and set their value. Nowhere is this more heartbreaking to see than in a woman’s interaction with the opposite sex.
Why would a young woman who knows her God given value allow a young man to lead her in a relationship where the two are having sex outside of God’s design for sex within marriage? Why would a young woman who knows her worth allow a young man to lead her on in a non-committal “friendship?” You know the kind I’m talking about! The one where both parties claim to be best friends, when in reality he is “faux dating” her while he waits for the girl he actually wants to marry. Why would a girl who knows her worth ignore her God given community when they tell her that she should flee from a guy and never look back? I could go on and on, but the answer is that she, in fact, doesn’t know her worth. She doesn’t understand the inherent value placed inside of her by God that says, “You weren’t designed to live that way.” She doesn’t understand that she is made, loved, and known by the God of the entire universe and that her value lies in her bearing his image.
I grew up as the girl who accepted that I wasn’t valuable. I decided my looks, personality and talents were the sum total of my worth and took whatever men or opportunities those three traits afforded me. I always wondered why people made a big deal about a girl’s promiscuity or self esteem being related to her relationship or lack thereof with her father. I would indignantly wonder what my problems had to do with a man who wasn’t even around. Maybe you wonder the same thing. God has created us in his image and declared us good and valuable as his image bearer. (Gen 1:27) Sin entered the world and has forever distorted what God declared as good. (Gen 3:7) Our earthly fathers are to be the representation of God the Father and should teach us what is good and what is our value given to us by God. Where a father is absent, whether physically or emotionally, a daughter is left to answer those questions on her own or find the answers elsewhere.
There is an epidemic of “daddy-less” homes where no one is holding our hands and telling us beauty starts in our hearts. Few are dating their daughters, teaching them respect, or about physical and (the equally important) emotional boundaries. Our daughter’s doors aren’t being held open for them while dad imparts the teachings of Jesus. These daughters are not learning of His costly death; which places infinite value on their souls or how that soul is connected to their bodies. Sadly, many dads aren’t teaching and the world is one big unqualified substitute teacher.
So where does that leave us?
Despite your upbringing or relationship with your father, God has made you, called you into his love and his purposes for your life. He has placed infinite value on your life that can only be found in Jesus. We need to be devouring the scriptures to discover who our Father says we truly are. We need to be around people who proclaim to us the gospel and the truth about ourselves. We need to be discipling young women and teaching them these truths as well.
Many times we merely see sin in our actions. Yes, it is sin if you are sleeping with your boyfriend or dating a non-believer, but it is also sin when we call God a liar and decide we aren’t worth what he has declared us to be. And we need to repent and lay hold of God’s new mercies.
Beloved, you are expensive, created in God’s image and bought at a heavy price in the innocent shed blood of Jesus Christ. You are not a “mark up” waiting to be exposed and you definitely aren’t cheap. Men are not scanning devices that decide your worth. God did that when he formed you in your mother’s womb. You are neither worthless nor worth less than what God says you are. You are uniquely designed, hand stitched and perfectly made by the Designer who puts every designer to shame. It’s time you lived that way.