I’m not sure at what time in my life I took off the blinders, looked around and realized that I was unhappy with myself. A quiet but supportive childhood praised my confidence and conscientiousness: I liked school a lot. I liked to learn. At some point, however, the little-girl charm and bright-eyed enthusiasm for learning became awkward, lanky and brace-faced, receiving eye-rolls for not playing dumb or not focusing on my looks. Kids are mean. I was thirteen and no longer adored.
Thirteen became fifteen, and braces became bras. Attention was given as I began dancing, gained some tone on my lanky limbs, and the confident smile returned once more. Before long, my identity was found in what boys thought about me, what my director thought about me, and how I would be seen by the rest of my school. Performance drove me. Every action was done for the sake of others’ approval.
Sure, I had been told that Jesus loved me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, but where was that warm fuzzy feeling that I got when a boy told me I was pretty when I tried listening to Jesus? I was entranced and intoxicated by the fleeting and instant gratification. My thirst was quenched by the immediate and the shallow.
If Jesus loved me enough to die on the cross for me, where was he when I had no true friends in middle school? If the God of the universe called me the loveliest of creations, why hadn’t he given me peace about the way others perceive me?
I am reminded of the parable of the man who built his house on solid stone. Since I can remember, I had placed my house, my own worth and identity, on sand. The sand was my appearance, my social status, my place in dance routine formations and how many times my boyfriend said he’d do anything for me. These things, all deceivingly good, gave me a false sense of who I was. I let them define me. But, just like sand, they wither and melt away the second a rough storm comes barreling down the horizon. I needed a stone foundation, and so, right before heading off to college, I turned to scripture.
What I found was shocking. I found, to my surprise, that God was doing immeasurably more than I thought possible. This relationship that I had unknowingly been calling out for was right in front of me, all I had to do was open up. The Spirit within my heart that I had accepted as a little girl was not lying dormant, it was working quietly yet diligently all along. I had found my stone, particularly in one Old Testament passage:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
Not only had my God formed every part of me and had known me long before I was conceived, He had planned out each and every one of my days. He sees me, understands me, and I must praise Him for it. I am who I am — quirks, shortcomings, talents, all of it — because He made me that way. The same God who paints the skies every morning, who dresses the wildflowers and gives every person a distinct laugh has called me His own. That truth resounded deeply with me, and I knew that was the stone foundation I was looking for.