This is what I know about me. I am a survivor. I am strong. I am passionate. I am loyal. I am kind. I am courageous. I am fun. I am silly. I am sweet. I am smart. I am sassy. I am valuable. I am all of this & more. And so are you! Every one of us has value. We don’t want to believe that, but it’s true. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Then he proclaimed that all he created was good. Everyone is a beautiful creation of the Creator, and that gives them value - even the most depraved person. The problem is we don’t believe it. I didn’t believe it for a long, long time. And out of my unbelief I made decisions that produced consequences that I still have to live with today.
I grew up the oldest daughter of a preacher. I was in church every time the doors were open. I lived under a microscope of constant sizing up, in a church that, unfortunately wasn’t very loving. During my childhood & adolescence I lived through a lot of dysfunction & turmoil. My home life was very tumultuous. My parents fought a lot, and my mother suffered from mental illness that has still left its scars to this day. Between 12 & 15, I also experienced a lot of death in a very short span of time. I lost 7 people close to me in those 3 yrs, 5 of them were kids my age or younger. I had a hard time understanding all the pain in this world. I believed there was a God, but I did not understand how he could allow such pain to exist. I was so angry and so bitter. I turned to drugs & alcohol as a way of escape. I just wanted to numb the pain. I didn’t want to feel anything.
It all came to a head when my mother tried to commit suicide when I was 17. She had to be hospitalized for several weeks, and during that time it came out that she not only wanted to take her own life, but she had had thoughts of taking my dad’s life, my life, and my siblings lives. The thought that she wanted to murder me didn’t upset me the most. It was the thought that she wanted to take her own life that really got me. I couldn’t understand how she could think of leaving me here alone. Maybe that’s why she thought of taking our lives too. I don’t know. All I do know is I was suffering through my own depression, my own self-harm, my own desperation.
I really didn’t care whether I lived or died. I would do any drug I could get my hands on & I would recklessly take as much as I could. I would race my friends 140 mph down windy country roads. I would drive under the influence, swerving all over the road, while daring God to take my life. But I was about to run into a brick wall.
I ended up in what most would consider the worst place imaginable, but for me it was just what I needed. I ended up in jail for selling drugs. I was alone, scared, & facing up to 20 yrs in prison. But, because of the solitude of my situation I got clean, I was confronted with the reality of my life, & I started thinking about God again. I prayed something like, “God I don’t know if you are real, but if you are, help me. Show me what to do.” And he did. He met me right where I was. I didn’t have to clean up 1st. Make my life perfect then he would accept me. No. One night, after hearing someone’s testimony of how they came to know Christ, I accepted the invitation to know him myself. All I remember is the person saying, “Maybe you’ve been running a long time (and man had I), but this is the moment to stop running. I’m going to count to 3 & I just want you to stand up & give your life to Christ. 1…2…” And before he could say 3, I leaped to my feet and accepted the free gift of salvation.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” By placing my faith in him I also received eternal life. But he didn’t die to just give us eternal life, although that would be amazing enough, he died to give us abundant life, even here on Earth. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). I got saved when I was 20, but it would take almost another 15 yrs to understand what abundant life means.
After getting saved I did not seek to know my Savior more by reading about who he is in the Bible. And I was afraid to go to church. I saw church as a bunch of hypocrites who didn’t really care about me, & would probably only hurt me. I had been hurt in the past, & it had jaded me. I had my eyes on people, instead of on God. The Christian life is not always easy, & because of that I avoided it. I ran from it. Well, you can only run from God for so long before you get swallowed up by a whale (Jonah). God loved me too much to let my relationship with him stay that far apart. The truth is once you are saved God is actually inside you, so you can never be truly separated from him. But, it can feel that way. To have the intimate relationship that we are meant to have with him, we must seek to know him.
Stay with me now, this is where the magic happens. Over the last 4 yrs, and especially over the last yr, God has been doing a work on my heart & mind that has been transforming my whole life, even my physical self. I have actually lost 100 lb over the last 8 mo. But my physical transformation is only a byproduct of how he has been transformation my heart & mind. You remember that I told you everyone has value right. Everyone has worth because they were created by God. Well, people who have accepted Jesus as their Lord & Savior have a worth that those who don’t believe in Christ don’t have. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are actually God’s children - his son’s & daughter’s. He looks at us the same way he looks at his son. No matter what our past, after salvation, we take on all of Jesus’ attributes, because we are in him & he is in us. This is how we are saved. This is how we are made right with God. And this is what he says you are once you are in Christ. You are blessed. You are chosen. You are holy & blameless. You are an adopted son or daughter, who has been given the very nature of God. You are beloved. You are redeemed. You are bought and freed from bondage. You are no longer a slave to sin. You are forgiven. You have been given all wisdom & insight. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Eternally united with Christ. Guaranteed an inheritance in glory that will be for all eternity. In other words, you will enjoy these benefits in Heaven with Christ forever.
I didn’t know any of this, because I wasn’t seeking to know it by reading the Bible & interacting with other Christians. I didn’t realize my true worth. I believed lies about what my identity is. “You always fail and that means you are a failure, unworthy of love, and deserving punishment.” “You deserve to live in guilt and shame over past sins.” “Your own mother didn’t love you, so why would anyone else love you.” I based my worth off of the world's standards. I had to measure up & when I didn't, it meant that I was a failure. I based my worth on a false identity of who the world told me I was instead of on the fact that I am a beautiful creation of the Living God, & because I am in Christ & He in me, I am a beloved daughter of the God of the Universe.
This is a struggle that every person has. - to identify who they really are. Are you going to believe the lies of this world, & stay on the hopeless treadmill of trying to measure up? Or, are you going to reject the lies, accept the truth, & learn your true worth? You are a beautiful, unique creation of God. He knows every hair on your head. And he said his creation is good. He wants you to come to him and accept the free gift that Jesus provided for you in his death, burial, & resurrection, so that you can have & know a worth beyond what you could ever imagine.
No matter what you think or feel, YOU ARE WORTHY!
~ Diana :)