“What’s the matter with you?  How can you not know the answer to that question… it’s in all the newspapers?  What world are you living in?”

Such a tirade being thrown at a shy, sensitive teenager by a social studies teacher in front of her peers can bring humiliation and shame.  It can not help but reinforce her own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.

Even though this happened to me over 40 years ago, it still hurts to think about it.

As a young child I believed there was a personal God, and that He was benevolent and cared for me.  I grew up attending a church where I learned from the scriptures that Jesus said, “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved.”  At the age of 12 I attended a Bible Camp, and it was there that I decided to put the rest of my life into someone else’s hands.  I gave my life to Jesus.  Although this was a sincere commitment, I didn’t understand at this young age how it had any affect on my day to day life.

I guess if there was something that caused me to forget the commitment I had made as I grew older, it was my fear of rejection and desire for acceptance.  I lacked confidence in myself, and my decisions were based on what would make the best impression or what I thought others expected of me.  I’d try to plan ahead for situations I’d be in, and prepare myself even to what I would say.  Afterwards I’d cut myself down, if I felt I’d failed.  I was trying to recreate myself into the “acceptable norm”.  But I ended up becoming more and more insecure in who I really was. It wasn’t others who were rejecting me.  I was rejecting myself.

During this time I continued attending our church’s youth group, and one evening as we were studying through the book of John, a verse jumped out at me.  Again, it was Jesus speaking, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…..”  It was such a new thought to me and caused me to think back on the commitment I had made years before.  How could it be that Jesus would choose me…..I didn’t even like myself……and yet He chose me.  As I looked more into the scriptures, it became clear that there was nothing I could do on my own to merit His love, but He loved me because He chose to love me.  Jesus death on the cross offered me forgiveness and a relationship with Him.  There was nothing that could separate me from that love.  It was unconditional and I could be secure in it.  These truths brought me such freedom.  I realized I no longer needed to fear what others thought of me.  If the God of the universe accepted me, I must be o.k.

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.” A.W. Tozer

Kathy’s story