As I’ve read through the Gospel of John, so many memories have been stirring… and as I’ve worked through them, I’ve been constantly drawn to you: the young girls crying themselves to sleep at night, praying to be somebody they’re not, begging to be somebody worth knowing. I see you in my story, and I see us in John. May I share with you?
I remember being very young, around five or six, and my dad asking me what I liked about myself.
I said, "I think I'm pretty."
I remember that so vividly because I regretted saying it for so many years following this conversation. In fact, I felt the very opposite of what I told my dad that day... both outwardly and inwardly.
I despised who I was in my preteen and teenage years... but to be honest, most of the time I didn’t have a clue who that person really was. What I DID know is THAT girl was insignificant, unlikable, completely uninteresting, and obviously not. worth. knowing.
Those are the lies I told myself, and for the most part, I felt like my peers stood in solidarity with me…. and I had to get out of there, out of high school, out of that reality. So I did.
And that is when the true tragedy began. Because when I started college classes at 16 years old, I started feeling some freedom to reinvent myself. Even more so when I went away to college at 18... I remember telling myself over and over, wide eyes, HUGE excitement, and a lot of anxiety:
"Nobody knows me! I can completely start over. DON'T screw it up!"
Sure, that was a lot of pressure, but y’all! I could be whoever I wanted to be, whoever I needed to be! I would finally be able to LIKE myself, and if I was really good, maybe some other people would like me too! Maybe even a boy... maybe even the one!
And I mean, I was a pretty good faker, but... there was a glaring flaw in my plan:
I would never be good enough to fool myself.
I still knew the truth about me, and I still didn't like who I was.
So... I lived under the umbrella of “DON’T screw it up” for several years. My reinvention of myself was bizarre (and that is the understatement of the century) but I laughed a lot and I made people laugh, and that made me feel good sometimes... buuuttt... not quite good enough. I needed to feel better about “myself,” I needed to push more limits, do whatever it would take to make more people like me. Y’all, I was desperate, I still hadn’t met the one, and I was like… 19! If I didn’t do what I needed to do to meet him now, I might never find him, never get married, further proving these things I felt about myself: insignificant, unlikable, completely uninteresting, obviously not. worth. knowing.
I had a goal, I wouldn’t screw it up, and my decisions followed suit. All along, I consistently reassured myself that as long as I didn't drink or have sex that I was in good shape spiritually.
FYI, none of that mattered.
Here’s what mattered then and still matters today:
I am known by the Creator of the World, and sisters, so are you! Defined by His grace and mercy, He calls us His own and gives us a place and a role in His family!
John 1:40-42 gives the account of Jesus and Peter’s first meeting:
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Before having ever met Peter, Jesus knew him… everything about him! Jesus knew he would arrive, knew he would follow Him, knew he would deny Him (Luke 22:33-34), and we know by this new name he was given (the meaning of Peter is ‘rock’), He even knew Peter’s future role in the family of God (Matthew 16:18 - And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,).
Let that sink in, sisters in Christ… Jesus knows His sheep, He calls them by name (John 10:1-18). Having been drawn to Him and receiving His free gift of grace, you are loved by the only One who knows you through and through… every bit of the you that you may hate, every bit of the you that you long to recreate, every poor decision, pushed limit, every terrible thing that has been done to you… He knows you. Covered in the blood of Jesus, let that truth comfort you! He knows your past, your present, your worst, and your best... He sees the righteousness of Jesus and calls you His daughter. This is the One who has authority to define you… not your past, not yourself, not your friends or the world around you. Only Him... and He defines you as His.
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