I walked past the group of girls that were frantically gesturing to each other. They appeared to be trying to keep their voices low so that I wouldn’t hear their words, but it didn’t work. They were talking about…
As my footsteps left them behind, their words echoed in my ears like painful arrows shot with the precision of those who knew exactly what they were doing.
I glanced over my shoulder. A few of them paused and turned to watch me. For a moment, silence reigned…and then one of them laughed. Giggles tittered throughout the group.
I pretended to smile brightly…as if their words didn’t matter to me…as if it was all a part of a game.
To be the target that they could practice shooting their arrows into.
Why I was the “chosen” one to be targeted? Did I dress weird? Smell funny? Have green things stuck in my teeth?
I have no idea. (Well, except for the green things stuck in my teeth…that wasn’t the reason:D)
At that time all I wanted was to be accepted and to have friends at school.
And so began my next “role”…that of a chameleon. I quickly learned what was needed to be accepted on a small level into certain groups…
And nowhere along the way did that include being “me”.
Isn’t that crazy?
Each one of us is a unique creation, a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), and yet there are times when we feel like we have to hide our uniqueness in order to fit into a mold of what is “acceptable” as dictated by the people we want to be friends with. For some, it’s having the right grades, for others it’s a boyfriend/girlfriend…or having the right body shape…or being part of a certain club or team…or dressing in a certain fashion…or taking part in crazy schemes…or being the one who takes part in putting others down…or…
The list goes on.
And so, I became adept at switching “skins” as needed to be “accepted”, and developing a thick padding under the surface so that when the arrows hit I wouldn’t outwardly flinch too much.
And then one day it all changed.
I still remember the day. I was at school, and I came face to face with the truth that…
Jesus loves me.
Such a simple statement, but the impact of that in my life was the equivalent to an atomic bomb going off…only instead of bringing destruction…it brought transformation.
Jesus loves me.
That part of myself that I had learned to keep well hidden under layer upon layer…that part of me that wanted to be accepted but was too afraid to step out from the shadows to be seen.
And you know the amazing thing about God’s love for me is that I don’t have to try to earn it…or keep it.
He loves me…
His love for me is an always and forever, no matter what kind of love. His love doesn’t lessen when I mess up…and His love for me doesn’t increase when I have success.
His love is constant.
And it is so huge I can’t get to the end of it.
Psalm 139 talks about how wherever I may go – up to the highest heavens or the deepest depths – God is there. And wherever God is, His love is there because He is love (1. John 4:8).
Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His (the Lord’s) love for those who fear Him.”
I love to go outside on a dark, starry night and look up at the glittering sky. To think that God’s love for me goes even farther than the farthest galaxy yet discovered leaves me knowing that I am treasured. I am valued.
I am accepted. I don’t have to hide.
Because I am loved.
Always and forever, no matter what.
I don’t know your story, but I do know that whoever you are, wherever you are…
You are loved.
You are accepted.
You are valued.
You don’t have to hide.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- A masterpiece with intrinsic value.
- Created. Not an accident.
- Loved. Unconditionally.
I remember the day these truths sank into my heart. I couldn’t stop grinning…people asked me what on earth was “going on”!!
That day, my life changed. I stopped hiding and living in fear of being rejected. I realized that I could just be…
Because Jesus loves me.
You know, since that day, my life has not been trouble free. I still have struggles. I have not been immune to the painful words that people say, and it still hurts when someone rejects me.
But you know, somehow knowing and believing that I am accepted by God – even when I am not accepted by people – has made a huge difference in my life, for He is the One who will NEVER leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and He is the One that will continually love me…
Always and forever, no matter what…
Along this trail.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16