When I was a kid, I memorized all the planets in our solar system. Pluto was always the last planet on the list of 9 planets. But in 2006 Pluto was demoted from a “planet” to a “dwarf planet.”
For a celestial body to be classified as a planet it must meet 3 standards:
1. It must orbit the sun.
2. It has a nearly round shape.
3. It has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, meaning its gravitational pull ejects or “vacuums up” objects in the space of its orbit. Or in simpler terms, it achieves gravitational dominance.
Pluto did not meet this last standard. So shortly after Pluto was downgraded from planet status, the American Dialect Society of Anaheim, California, declared “plutoed” the word of the year. The word means “to demote or devalue someone or something.”
Do you ever feel “plutoed”? Do you feel people don’t appreciate you like they should, or that people write you off and undervalue you?
You might get that feeling on the job when you are working hard but someone else gets the credit, the promotion, or the attention.
You might feel plutoed in your marriage. Your spouse criticizes you or makes cutting remarks about you, and sadly does it in front of others. This criticism makes you feel diminished as a person.
Alarmingly, we can feel plutoed in our church, and sense that our difficulties or problems are ignored, or that our contributions or ideas are not taken seriously enough by fellow church members.
The next time you feel devalued or “plutoed,” please remember the following truths.
1. You have value, worth, and dignity because God created you in His image. Genesis 1:26 says so. “In God’s image” does not mean we look like God because no one knows what God looks like—He doesn’t have a physical body.
“Image of God” means we humans can reflect God’s character in our love, patience, kindness, faithfulness, forgiveness, and more.
When God made us, He planted on the inside of us His characteristics. Those God-like qualities provide a solid basis for increased self-esteem and respect for one’s self. Our self-worth is not based on physical attractiveness, possessions, others’ opinions of us, or achievements. Our dignity, worth, and value, however, are based on being made in the image of God. Because we reflect God’s image, we can feel confident in who we are. To criticize ourselves is to discount how God has made us and the abilities He has given us.
2. You have value because God loves you like crazy. He really does. God does not love us because of what we do, what we have, or what we look like. He loves us because of who He is, for “God is love” states 1 John 4:8.
Even more, we cannot earn God’s love. He loves us no matter what we do. He loves us because it is His nature to love. So, He can’t help but love us.
3. God demonstrated your value by sending Jesus to die on a cross for you. On that Roman cross, Jesus willingly took upon Himself all your sins, transgressions, and violations of God’s standards as revealed in the pages of the Bible. That is the price God paid for you—His Son, God’s best.
4. Because God values us, we must value other people. I imagine you easily could recall people around you who need to be “de-plutoed.” They are longing for others to respect them, affirm them, bless them, and love them unconditionally. I believe we image-of-God bearers have an obligation to help everyone around us to feel valued. When we recognize our value in God’s eyes, we discover hope.