I grew up in a Christian home, the middle child between two highly-gifted siblings. I always felt that I couldn't measure up, either academically or spiritually. I felt "less than" – so I set out to prove myself in areas where I felt strong. I was cheerful by nature and loved to sing, so I worked hard to prove myself musically and please people by being cheerful and happy.
This became my identity. I felt that my value was based on what I did – how much I served people, prayed, read my Bible, and how educated and skilled I was. I was constantly striving to prove my worth in hopes that I would be loved more by both people and God. I really felt that God's love for me was dependent on my faithfulness. Eager to please others to affirm my worth, I was often vulnerable to being manipulated, particularly by people in authority.
God used Journey to significantly impact my understanding of my identity, as I observed staff and volunteer leaders model what it looks like to be real about brokenness, as well as their security in who they are in Christ. As I continue to learn more about listening to Jesus' voice and looking to Him for my identity, I can accept that I am perfectly loved just because I am His child. I don't have to strive to measure up to anyone. He compares me to no one. He loves me uniquely but perfectly.
Although I can still fall back into the habit of thinking that my value is based on what I do and making others happy, I am learning to walk each day in more freedom, trusting in His great love for me. With His help, those "less-than" thoughts are being replaced by His truth. And I can reach out and be real with my close friends when old thought patterns creep back in, and receive their care. He is transforming me by his Spirit, not by my own striving. He is helping me discover my true self, safe in His love.