A middle school journal can be a scary place. Recently, I read through some things I wrote in 6th grade. I had made a “dreams” section, and the things I found there broke my heart. “Blonde hair,” “skinny legs,” “all the boys like me,” “all the girls like me,” and “Aeropostale clothes” were the main ones. (Aero was quite important to us back then). This deep longing for acceptance and a certain image is probably 100% normal for a middle schooler.
But echoes of these longings haven’t budged a bit in my heart since then.
This weekend, I went to a retreat with Cru. It was a time of renewal, worship, feeling the presence of God, and wise teaching. Retreats are so incredibly powerful.
But I found myself being distracted often. “Are people noticing me?” “Am I being funny enough?” “Do people see me and want to know me?” “Am I joyful enough, serious enough, wise enough?”
The thing is, I didn’t realize this until Saturday afternoon. Sitting in a cold basement for a quiet time, I asked God to show me deep motives, desires, or impurities in my heart. I thought, prayed, and waited. Then:
“Why do I want so badly to stand out?”
The words flowed out onto the page, and after writing them I stared. Stupefied, I realized this desire drove many of my thoughts and actions. “I feel valued when people desire me, and when I feel looked past, I feel worthless.”
I looked for Bible passages about worth and value, and found some truths I think we all need to hear.
#1: We all have value and beauty, inherently. Unshakably. The Creator has impressed his image on every single one of us. We are image-bearers of the One far too holy and glorious to comprehend. He has sacrificed greatly for us. We are pursued excitedly and steadily by Christ. We are given many unique gifts and personalities. I believe you have a beauty that rivals the mountains and night skies, because you have the life and light of GOD in you. That’s something nothing else on this earth can claim.
Our worth and value is a solid truth that does not change based on our perceptions or others’ opinions. It is something we never have to doubt or weep about.
Oh, there are many unchanging truths to affirm who we are!
. . .but they are not to be our main focus.
#2: There are other things in this world with great beauty and value as well. The people around us, Christ’s salvation, the kingdom of heaven, a gentle and quiet spirit, godliness, wisdom, and faith. Each of these are described by the Bible as having much value and worth, and therefore demanding our attention and excitement. We are called to step beyond our own feelings and into the greater mission of God.
So, why do I want so badly to stand out? I tend to forget my unchanging value, for starters. But the answer is also found in where my focus is. When I’m self-aware, the stakes only grow. Things can start to feel desperate, blown out of proportion.
In the end, an outward focus is the best-case scenario for our own lives and growth. We have a solid foundation of knowing how our Father views and values us. On top of that, then, we can build lives that constantly seek out the joy and wellbeing of the people in our lives. We can focus unwaveringly on the kingdom of heaven. We can be confident, even with gentle and quiet spirits. We can strengthen our godliness, wisdom, and faith daily.
Ultimately, this confident focus on things greater than ourselves will bring utmost glory to the One greater than all things.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!