Flashback to a few years ago when I was a sophomore in college chatting with a sweet friend. She sat across from me, filling me in on her life and sharing about some serious insecurities she had been facing. For a while now, this friend had also been dating a great guy who loved her and loved the Lord. Their relationship was going great. As she was being vulnerable and sharing about the wounds she was dealing with, I genuinely sat across from her and thought, “Seriously? You have a great guy who loves you and thinks you are beautiful. How can you still feel like you are not beautiful, not worthy, not enough? I know he tells you that all the time.” Seriously. I really thought that her fears about what she looked like, who she was, and whether she was “good enough” would be solved by this boyfriend because obviously he thought she was wonderful. I thought these things about her because I thought the same things would be true for me – I was just waiting for the right guy to come along and fix me, too.
You see, I have battled some serious insecurities for as long as I can remember (very much the same as many girls). Heck, I can remember being in fifth grade and thinking I was too fat or too ugly or not as pretty as my friends (yall, that’s scary young). This was a place the enemy knew I was weak and so he constantly attacked me with LIES about my self-worth. And I believed them to be true. In high school, I didn’t date, and I attributed that to be boring or ugly, etc., because that seemed like the obvious reason to me. I really and truly believed that if I looked differently, then boys would care. And I thought that is boys cared, then I would also feel better about myself and believe I was beautiful and worthwhile.
All of the above is, so obviously, false.
And yet, these are the thoughts I really believed for years. They transformed from fears just about boys, to fears about how all people saw me. I ended up with some seriously messed up beliefs—I doubted that my closest friends actually even liked me. I doubted the calling God so clearly placed on my life to pursue vocational ministry. I doubted whether I was really who God wanted me to be, because I so clearly saw all of the things that I thought were messed up with myself. I doubted if God would ever make me look the way I wanted to, so I took things into my own hands and quickly found myself with an eating disorder that I could not shake. I told myself this was all temporary, only until I looked a certain way and then I found a boy to love me and then other people would see I was worthwhile and then I wouldn’t have these problems anymore. (Yall, I’m not saying that any of this is truth. Now I can see where I was so broken, but it is what it is—it’s part of my story).
Fast forward to March of 2016. The boy showed up. My boy. My now-husband, Matt, and I fell in love in the beautiful love story God wrote for us. And I felt loved and cherished and knew someone believed I was beautiful. Really quickly, we knew that we were going to get married and felt so confident of God’s hand in our lives. So this July, we did just that! Five months in, and things are wonderful.
But here’s the catch, the thing that surprised me like crazy—after Matt and I started dating, and I finally had that guy who I knew cared really deeply for me, my problems didn’t stop. I still found myself just as insecure, always questioning my worth, still trying to look a different way or be a different size. But this time, I had no idea why. I thought it had all been for a guy. I thought it had all been an attempt for love, which I knew was wrong, but at least I understood where it was coming from.
Correction: I thought I knew where it was coming from.
Here’s the real problem—I believed that my worth and identity had to be validated by someone else.
Well, I’m here to tell you (and honestly to remind myself), that all the approval that we could ever need is from our heavenly Father. And we don’t have to earn it by proving our worth or becoming more ______ (fill in the blank for yourself). When we choose to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of our lives, God views us as his children (1 John 3:1) and calls us holy, blameless, and righteous (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Here is what we have got to pray and believe about ourselves.
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. Psalm 139:13-15
You were not an accident. Not just your existence, but every bit of your character, personality, body, and your passions. God hand-picked every aspect of what makes you you. You were knitted into who you are by God.
Answer me this—has anyone accidentally knitted an awesome sweater or scarf? Knitting takes time, patience, skill, and very intentional actions. Everything about who you are was planned with this same intentionality. Hate your stomach? Your snort when you laugh? Feel like you are too boring or too quiet? These things are all on purpose. Don’t try to change something that God intentionally knit into your being.
Finally, this verse does not say that God made you pretty well but you have to accrue a certain amount of outside affirmation before your worth is certain. You are worthy because God made you. He looks on you every day and is pleased. It took me forever to actually believe this for myself. Some days I still struggle to accept it. But, friends, God rejoices in us. He is so happy with the way he made you.
When you feel unworthy, ask him to reveal your true value. When you feel ugly, turn to his word for verses that speak of your beauty. When your self-esteem plummets, don’t wait for a guy to bring it back up. I firmly believe that my husband ranks with the best of the best among men. I never wonder what he thinks of me. And yet, here I am still fighting each day to believe in my value and true identity.
Don’t wait for someone else to make you believe the things God says about you. Don’t even expect that to be possible. Believe these things for yourself, by the power and grace of God.
You are strong. You are brave. You are wonderfully made, beautiful, powerful, and worthy of the greatest Love this world can offer.
For me, I thought a boy would help me believe this and fix my insecurities. Maybe it is the same for you. Maybe your ‘thing’ is friends, a job, a certain accomplishment, or any number of other things.
But please, hear and believe this when I speak from the last 10+ years of searching for something to ‘fix’ me. No person and no thing will do that.
Sister, just turn to the Father and let what he says of you be enough.
Sarah is first and foremost a child of God who is passionate about making sure that the people in her life know how deeply they are loved by our Father. She currently spends her days ministering to middle school and high school girls at a church in southwest Austin. In July of 2017, she married the love of her life, Matt, and they are currently figuring out this whole “adulting” thing and building a life together. You can find her at @sarahrinn_