As I pass people walking to class or driving down the street I often wonder, “What is that person’s story?” Everyone has a story – a unique life experience that has shaped their life and their character. If you could sit down and have lunch with that person, what would they want to talk about? What knowledge would they have to share? What are their strengths and gifts and how do they use them? What do they want to use those talents for in the future and how are they using them now? What kind of struggles are they facing today? What are they passionate about? What brings joy to their life and what provokes sadness?
These questions flood my mind because I LOVE to meet and get to know people. There is so much knowledge to gain by talking to people and listening to them share the lessons they have learned. The amount of knowledge each of us can learn through our own life experiences is great, but just think how much more you could learn from the life experiences of the people you already know and the people you meet each day! It is such a gift that we can share life with one another.
The best part is that a person’s story doesn’t end. Each day it grows as they do because we are always learning and changing. There are always more questions to ask and there is ALWAYS more to learn.
I have written out a snippet of my story of becoming a believer of the Bible, a follower of Jesus Christ, and the work God has done in my life since coming to college.
When I was 3 or 4 years old, I remember sitting in the living room with my mom and asking her every question about Jesus and Salvation that I could think of. Questions about heaven and hell and how I would know if I could go to heaven. My mom told me because Jesus died on the cross and rose again he paid the price for our sins and that heaven was where Jesus lived, and if we loved him and asked him into our hearts and asked for forgiveness from all of our sins we could go to heaven after we die, and live with him.
I asked my mom to pray with me and we prayed a short, sweet prayer that changed my life for the better. I honestly believed in Jesus and his love as best as little me could. As I have gotten older, and Christ has revealed himself to me more deeply, that relationship has grown and become my own faith, a faith beyond what I could attain from simply trying to be like my parents. One of the things God reminded me of this past summer is that he is infinitely everything. He is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, loving, just, righteous, and humble, etc. Each of these attributes he reveals more fully during different seasons of life.
With this in mind, I wanted to share the attribute that the Lord has most recently worked on in my heart – humility.
At some point during my senior year of high school I prayed that God would humble me. I started to notice more things about my character, thoughts and actions that were incredibly prideful. As I began my 1st year of college, it took me a while to realize that God was actually working on my prideful heart and my single prayer was not forgotten. I realized that that this life that I have been given was not gifted to me for me to live on my own, for myself. I was approaching my schoolwork, friendships and schedule as if I could do them on my own. I put my own desires above living my life for Christ. So, I intended to jump right in and try to help the process along. Instead of running to the bible for answers, I went to my own, limited knowledge of humility. I decided that humility was thinking of my self as less both on the outside and the inside believing that confidence in who I was and who God made me was arrogance. I focused only on my faults and thought of myself as less and less.
I am in a campus group called the Navigators, which is a faith based group whose mission statement is “to know Christ and make Him known.” Through the Navigators I was in a discipleship group (bible study) and second semester, we did a study of the book of 1 John. Through the discussions my discipleship group had, the truth spoken into my life by fellow believers and studying the Word on my own, I began to realize the worth I have in Christ. One week the study focused on being children of God and I was reminded that I am one of God’s children that he loves and is working in to make me more like his son. Another week my group ended up talking about something that helped me to realize that I was giving too much of my thought time to appearance and I was trying to cover up my brokenness with makeup and nice clothes. Neither of those things are bad things but I made them ultimate things in my life and gave them power that they were never intended to have. After realizing this, I went a few days without make up and it was the most freeing thing I think I have ever done. It enforced in my mind that beauty isn’t all about outward appearances and seeming “perfect” and it isn’t what matters to Christ. What matters to him is the heart like it says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
It took me a while to realize that feeling worthless and ugly was incredibly prideful. I am a daughter of the one true King, I was created by the God of the Universe and he says I am beautiful, he says I am worth it. He gave me worth by sending his son to DIE on the cross… for me. To say that as one of God’s creations I am worthless is equivalent to saying that God is wrong and he made a bad decision. 2 Corinthians says, “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” Christ has washed away my sins, and made me new, he doesn’t want us to think poorly of ourselves or focus on the sin that he already paid for. I learned that being humble has a lot less to do with thinking less of you and a lot more to do with thinking of others more often than yourself. In humility Christ died on a cross to pay my penalty. He thought of each of us before he thought of himself and that is a perfect example of what humility should be. As C.S. Lewis said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
Knowing this, I am striving to have a servant’s heart, to spend less of my time thinking about myself and more time caring for the people that God has put in my life. No, I still don’t have it all figured out but God is still teaching me and refining me to make me more like his perfect, spotless son.
If there are three things you can take away from my story I hope that it is that
1. God loves you and created you beautifully in his image.
2. God has wonderful plans for your life. He even promises it in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
3. It is incredibly, incredibly important to go to scripture first, instead of worldly ideas. Had I done that I would have been spared so much heartache.
So, never give up and know that you are ever so deeply loved.
What is your story?