“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