“Quiet desperation,” or a life filled with value?

The key feature of jobs I’ve enjoyed have been that, while engaged in my job, I felt like I was letting my light shine.  For me, “letting my light shine” involves actively valuing whatever I’m engaged in at the time, and knowing that this value – that shining light – can’t be hidden.  While every moment may not be a walk in the park, I was grateful to be involved in those jobs.  Likewise, the jobs I haven’t enjoyed haven’t included a great sense of value or being valued.

“Sure,” one might say, “sounds quite reasonable.  Everyone loves to be valued.  But isn’t that a very chancy thing – sometimes you’re valued and valuable, and other times not?”

I’m reminded of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, where he says, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  There are certainly a lot of viewpoints out there which would attest to that same thought – that many or most folks work at jobs that they feel they have to, to get by, but don’t enjoy.  That concept could probably be applied just as easily to relationships, education, housing…

So what’s the point, then?  Are some of us destined to live lives and engage in careers which lack value, while others somehow do get to have that value expressed in their lives?


Value truly is an inherent part of who we all are.  It’s built into us, and not something that is dependent on outside circumstances.  In Genesis 1, the spiritual record of God’s creation, we read, “God created man in His own image…”  This expressed image of God has all the value and goodness of its source.  What I love about this is that it declares that all your value, both given and received, is because of the nature of how you were created.  So, rather than waiting for value to be given you by an employer, or letting your worth hinge on certain words from your friends, you can stand up right here and declare that you are the beloved image and likeness of God – not God Herself, but the individual expression of the allness of God, good.

Living with this confidence, rather than waiting for that confidence and value to come from others, is how I’ve broken free of that limiting cycle of “quiet desperation” that Thoreau spoke about.  I would certainly say that the realization of this freedom unfolds every day.  But this declaration of value, and the confidence to “let your light so shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) comes from the knowledge, no matter how slight, of your divine Source, our dear Father-Mother God.  You will never be separate from the good glory of God.  You never have to live as if you were anything less than the very image of God.

Enjoy this day!

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