Journey to Dignity — I : Bad

I in a series of IV on How Dignity Discovered Me

Photo by Carlos Arthur M.R on Unsplash

This is a 4-part series of short entries that will walk through how Dignity has become the focus of my communication and engagement with people. This is foundational for my future writing entries. Thanks for coming along.


I’m bad. Right? Yes. Yes? No. Sometimes. But I’m basically “good”-ish. This is a dialogue I have had with myself over and over and over. Growing up, I battled this feeling, this lurking belief that I am really, under all my politeness and friendliness and smiles, a terribly horrible human being who is inescapably bad. Desperately and awfully bad. Where did I get that from? I don’t know, honestly. There wasn’t a moment where I lost my innocence and suddenly felt a weight of darkness. On the contrary, there were many happy moments and good memories in my childhood. It wasn’t perfect, but I was loved and cared for by family and friends. This deep shade of shame was something that seemed to originate in me. I never talked about it, just constantly tried to make sure it didn’t “show up”. I always aimed to do well because I valued that, but this eventually became secondary to my obsession to do good to counter the bad. As I rolled into adolescence, my efforts to quiet this belief turned into perfectionism. When I became a disciple of Christ my senior year of high school, my perfectionism geared into over drive; over the next few years it morphed into debilitating legalism and what I would later call my performance addiction. Saying “yes” to the God Who loves isn’t supposed to feel like this — is it? Granted, I had moments of peace, joy, and calm. But as Dr. Brene Brown describes it, this joy was foreboding and carried with it an impending sense of doom. I questioned everything I did, side-eyeing my sincerity and intentions on things I knew I did from the purest place possible. “The heart is wicked…(Jeremiah 17:9)”, the Bible says, and I erroneously fully distrusted my heart. “You have to make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s,” people I respected would say, so I couldn’t make a single mistake. “Make sure they don’t think you are being insincere, even though you probably are,” said the accusatory inner voice, reminding me of the boulder-of-badness at the bottom of my soul that I was just covering up with my good deeds and prayers and conversion. So if I am bad first, if the truest thing about us is that we are fallen and sinful and have a propensity to be against one another, what do we do? How do I actually escape the claws of my “bad” if the flesh is so tricky that I could fall away from faith and goodness and not even know it(a fear of mine for a very long time)? I found the first layer of the answer right before I went to college, and it isn’t primarily about what you do, it’s primarily about how you see…

Nya Abernathy | The Dignity Effect

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Your #DignityAmbassador. Enjoyer of the Divine gifts of food, culture, and relationships. I want to help you discover the dignity in you and others!

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