Growing up, I’ve always felt a need to be an overachiever, always doing more than my best and never being content with just “good.” I wanted to be the smartest in the class, the top of the class, and be considered for the valedictorian without actually having to give the speech. I wanted the accolades, but at the same time I could not stand being the center of attention. I wanted to be known for doing well, but unknown at the same time. I expected to be praised for being the “smart girl” and then left alone, almost immediately after. It was very weird and to this day, it’s no wonder that I was never fulfilled from that.
However, in hindsight, I made a ton of decisions in my past as a result of this mentality that could’ve been very destructive for me. It’s like at some point, I went from wanting to be unknown to seeking affirmation from other people that were never meant to fill it in the first place. It’s only now, as an adult and a Christ-follower, that I realize how destructive that could have been and how dangerous that was. Any time we’re seeking affirmation outside of Jesus, we’re going to feel a void. We’re going to experience drought once we realize that these things can not fill us. We’ve received the affirming words or re-blogs or whatever else and yet we’re still not filled. We’re still empty, still thirsty, and still seeking the next best void-filler.
It pains me to see so many young girls receiving affirmation in the things around them because I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to be so wrapped up in wanting to be liked by people that you’re willing to do almost anything to please them — even if it means compromising values you’ve held on to for years. I know what it’s like to feel defeated, depressed, and deflated when those same people you’ve been receiving affirmation from suddenly stop associating with you or criticize everything you do. I also know what it’s like to struggle with believing what they say. I used to be that way, so I understand it and I know it’s effects because I learned it the hard way. One day, it all falls down and it falls down hard, leaving you questioning not just what happened, but who you are because so much of your identity had been formed by other people. It took me years to figure out my identity, because so much of it was dependent on what other people thought of me to be.
This sort of reliance is so dangerous. If you give anyone what much power in being the one to build you and to make you feel like you have a sense of value, all it takes is one word to really tear down your confidence. All it takes is one act to really send you over the edge. Believe me, I’ve been there and I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone.
Now, let’s see what God says about who we are.
In Isaiah 43, which is one of my favorite chapters in the bible by the way, God reminds us not only who He is, but who we are in His eyes. He exclaims, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
If there was a microphone nearby, right after this sentence would be the perfect time to drop it. What God is emphasizing here is that He not only redeemed us and knows us by name, but that we are His. We are known by God and we belong to Him. I always find this verse so affirming and comforting for me because in a world where we’re given so many labels, it’s a great reminder that more than any of those things, we belong to God. It makes me feel incredibly safe knowing that even if there’s individuals that might infer things about my character that aren’t true, the Creator of the universe says that I am His.
Rest in this for a moment: we are His – the Creator of the universe, the Author of love, the Savior of our souls, and the King of our hearts.
The same One that created the stars in the sky, is the same One that bled on the cross for our sins.
The same God that created all things and said it is good, created us and said the same thing.
The same Savior that spoke these beautiful things that we marvel over into existence, is the same Savior that rejoices over us with singing when we return to Him.
He forms our identity. He is our identity. Our identity is in Him.
I know it sounds cliche’, but you are worth so much more than what others think of you. Take it from someone who spent most of their life seeking affirmation and desiring to be liked by people. You will never be filled by leaning on others to give you the affirmation we already received in Christ when He was crucified for our sins. We are infinitely loved by a God that paid a hefty price just to be relational with us. Think about it, God didn’t need us. We’re sinful people who are more inclined to turn away from God than we are to turn to Him and yet His heart rejoices when we praise Him. We’re more inclined to be unfaithful to Him and yet He’s endless faithful to us. He pursues so passionately and continues to do so.
You are already loved and affirmed as being beloved by God.
You are already purposed and valued by God.
God didn’t ransom us because we had it all together and were perfect people. He ransomed us because He loves us and He wanted us. He ransomed us because actually, we’re pretty messed up people who could not follow the law faithfully without Jesus. He ransomed us because He loves us so much that He wanted us to be able to be reconciled to Himself for His glory and our good. This is not anything we have earned on our own ability. There’s no test we can take or “self-help” book we need to read to receive this love. Unlike anything else in this world, Jesus took on our punishment, willingly, but not because of anything we did. It’s a beautiful gift given just because of who He is — not because of what we’ve earned.
If you’re a perfectionist or someone that likes to control things (like me), it may be hard to process sometimes. That I can receive this beautiful, life-changing gift, simply because I am loved so much. Simply by believing and following Jesus, I am adopted as a daughter (or son) into His family? As mind-blowing as it is given how you cannot find this anywhere else in our society, it’s so true. There is absolutely nothing that we could do to earn this gift from the greatest gift of all: Jesus.