This past week I had to give a presentation on my “formational journey” in one of my classes. It is as terrifyingly personal as it sounds, and even though there are only twelve of us in the class, each who I know well and am comfortable with, I was still incredibly nervous.
It ended up being very powerful, and I thought, why not write it out!?
I shared some of my backstory; my life before I got to seminary. I shared the struggles of my first semester, adjusting to life without 6 apartment-mates, a painful loss in our family, and getting used to life on my own. And then I shared my narrative, or the statement or overlying belief that I have held about myself for my entire life.
My narrative was that I believed I was insignificant and forgettable.
I shared the way my personality and my relationships have fed into this. The way the devil has spoken lies to me, convincing me that if people felt this way about me, well, then God must view me as insignificant as well.
I shared my testimony at camp the summer after my sophomore year of college, and I said those very words. I knew that I felt that way, but I had never asked God if it was true. I had never processed it and opened myself up to God healing these wounds and replacing my narrative.
That is what Christianity is all about. It is about a God who loves a broken world, a world full of people believing lies about themselves, and wanting so badly to replace those lies with the truth. The truth that we are loved, cherished, treasured, wanted, worthy, enough.
Do you believe it? Do you actually believe that God loves you? The song makes us think we do. Jesus loves me, this I know.
That is the gospel. That is what we live for. But do we believe it? Do we know it?
I definitely didn’t.
So, I’ve lived with this false belief. It is what we in the soul care family call a “false self.”
The broken and untrue things about ourselves that we take on as our identity, instead of living into the truth of who God says we are.
So through my semesters, I have learned to believe that I am loved by God. I can trust God.
For our presentations, we had to include the “new name” that God has given us. This idea comes from Revelations 2:17 where it is explained that when life ends and we are with God in Heaven, we will receive a new name. As we grow in our relationship with God in this lifetime, however, He also desires to rename us and replace our false narratives.
This happened for me when I went to that retreat in January. The one right after I lost my job and I felt like I was on the edge of losing my sanity along with it. The place where God brought me to rest, to just be with Him and know that it was enough. I was enough.
At one point we went into a time of prayer, and I pictured myself sitting in front of Jesus, leaning back, on His chest. I felt Jesus say to me, “I treasure you.” And He repeated it over and over to me, until tears rolled down my face. Not only did He love me, but He treasured me.
For the fun of it, I googled “treasure” while I prepared my presentation. The definition I found said this: “Treasure is a concentration of riches, often one which is considered lost or forgotten until being rediscovered.”
I was amazed by the stark contrast between what I had believed about myself, that I was forgettable and insignificant, and what God said was true about me, that I was a treasure. A precious gem. His pearl of great price.
One of the people in my class shared these verses with me afterwards:
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.”
I loved all the references to stones and jewels…but what I loved most was that this afflicted city (me) was being rebuilt. Yes, we are broken people. But God loves redeeming.
He loves restoring and rebuilding. And when we allow Him to restore us, we become a treasure of worth beyond compare.
Allow Him to speak truth to you. Think about how you view yourself, what your narrative might be. And ask Him what He thinks of you. I guarantee you’ll be transformed and restored by what you hear. That is worth more than a LIFETIME of days of gratitude.