“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” – Brennan Manning
I have always had great friends, always. That is one area that the Lord has constantly blessed me. I have always been able to be completely myself without worrying about people leaving. I’m a very insecure person so I needed that security in my relationships. Curveball, I didn’t know I needed it until I didn’t have it.
It was time for me to go away to school and I had decided to be different. All of my closest friends were going to the same school in West Palm Beach, only four hours from home. However, I thought it would be a good time in my life to stretch myself. So here I am, in Georgia, eight hours from home. I had my brother (who had been here for two years and was very well established with his sports team) and that was it. I didn’t know where anything was and I didn’t have a single friend. The closest I got to knowing someone was when they asked, “Oh are you Nate’s sister?”. It was then, I realized I was terrified to not meet their standards.
My friends from home are wonderful. They are still some of my closest friends, but we had years to build our relationships. They knew me when I was dressing in Nate’s hand me downs, when I insisted on playing tackle football with the boys, and I never cared to brush my hair. We had been through each others awkward stages together. At this point we had to be friends, because we didn’t know anything else. You don’t have that in college.
I spent the first year of college shrinking into a shell. I tried to be the most mild version of myself so that I never offended people, I never seemed weird, and I was easy to be with. I just wanted people to like me. I became the most watered down version of myself so that I could be accepted.
Freshman year of college was hell. I was trying to adjust, make new friends, and do well in school all while keeping a front up. I longed for true relationships. (Side note: The idea of having shallow relationships makes my soul die a little bit. If I call you a friend I want to know every detail about you and I want you to know the same about me. I love people and I love to be able to love people well.)
Honestly, I think you could say I was fighting depression. All of the signs are there. I was sleeping more than any healthy person should; I slept through alarms and naps were scheduled into my daily routine. I had gained twenty pounds and my appetite fluctuated; I would go days barely eating and consume an entire cow the next. I had absolutely zero motivation to do anything; I was failing out of school and not involved with anything (which was a complete 180 to the go-go-go lifestyle I was used to). And there was this feeling, a longing, for something more, something deeper, something authentic. But just as quickly as it had started it was over.
That summer changed me. The Lord had been working on my heart that year. It seemed that everywhere I went I was being told how valuable I am to God. I didn’t allow God to do much more than simply tell me; I heard the truth and knew the truth, but I didn’t accept the truth. It wasn’t until I was home that I saw the changes. I spent the summer with my family, one of my dearest friends, and serving in the church that had spoken so much truth into my life (I now realize that I was not healthy enough to be leading, but the Lord still worked through that). I was being reassured left and right and still something was missing. I was teaching middle school girls that the Lord loved and valued them and that was all that mattered. But I didn’t believe it myself! The Lord used people, who I knew loved me, to teach me that the love from people was not going to satisfy me. I could be loved by all the people and still feel inadequate.
I now accept the truth that the Lord had been trying to show me: your worth is in Christ alone, because you are loved by the One that created the universe. You were created in His image (Genesis 1:27), He sent His Son to die for you (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-11), and He loves you with a perfect love (Psalm 136:26). We live in a fallen world, people will fail, but the One that holds the stars in place will never fail you. You are God’s beloved, find your worth it that.