I have always been curious. To a fault at times. I’m the kid whose mom tells her not to touch the stove because it’s hot, and instead of just accepting the clear fact in front of me, I need to find out for myself. So I touch the stove, I scrape my knee, I push the boundaries, I ignore curfew—and always find myself facing consequences. I would tease and say I did all this so that my younger siblings could watch me be really stupid and know not to test authority, but really I’m just constantly searching.
When I was young it was “Why? How?” And as I grew it became “Who? Who am I? What is my purpose? What gives me worth?” I don’t think I really recognized this was the crying out of my heart until I was surrounded by darkness and terrified. The real heartache started, as it often does, with a boy. I didn’t even realize the world had set me up to believe that my worth came from being chosen by a man until I was too far down the rabbit hole. I bought into the lie that so many of us do: the idea that we need someone else to complete us, to validate us. That there must be something wrong if no one chooses us. And although being chosen can give you an incredible high, it never lasts. It is a temporary and, ultimately, an unsatisfying place to live.
But I was a teen, and I was desperate to understand my value and identity. I was blind and running madly toward anything that quieted the lies haunting me.
You’re worth nothing. You’re not beautiful. Don’t try; you’ll only fail. Nobody wants you. You’re not enough. They were like a song stuck on repeat, except when I was with him. The boy who made me feel worth it. I’ve since learned that when you base your worth on someone else, you give that person the right to make you feel worthless, but at the time I was just happy the lies were silent.
I gave him the power to control me, to affect the way I felt about myself and others. I was dissolving into him, becoming whatever he asked or needed. As I mentioned, he made the lies of self-worth vanish and made me feel alive—but only for a time. This too faded, and when I was alone in the dark and couldn’t run anymore, the lies were louder than ever, and I’d never felt so empty.
So I basically ran away from home, abandoned all those who loved me, and gave everything to a relationship that was breaking me. You see, this story was never about the boy. It was always just about me. I made the choice to believe the lies, to sell my soul to the desperation to feel “picked.” It was madness, but necessary. Like I said, I was the kid who had to touch the stove.
So there I was, now a young adult, seeing my future as never changing from my present. And the idea that this really was all my life was going to be began to haunt me. Was this really all I was going to be? Another question always followed, still and comforting: What if I was made for more?
It was a dark, desperate night when I reached rock bottom. Even there a soft, warm voice called me to see the Light that had always been there. Terrified and completely unsure of what I was doing, I said enough is enough. And I surrendered to the truth.
It was amazing how quickly I changed. I went searching for the things I had given away, convinced it would take me a while to really know myself apart from my toxic relationship, but it was actually so much easier than I’d thought. All I had to do was listen to the voice of my heavenly Father and the Spirit who had whispered to me in the dark, and believe that what He was saying was true.
Now life is a cycle of remembering and forgetting, and ignoring the lies that are familiar is one of the hardest things we will ever face. So every day is a new opportunity to surrender to truth and believe the voice of our Father. Every day is an opportunity to let go of the temporary places we often find our identity—money, relationships, possessions, beauty—and instead find it in the lasting fulfillment of the Spirit. Every day is an opportunity to remember that you are enough, that all you have is all you need. But then, that is the journey.
Wherever you are right now, know that He calls you to Himself, calls you His own, calls you daughter, son. Be encouraged that your worth and identity come from a power far beyond your own. Know that at any moment, if you ask, He will remind you who you are, and that kind of truth holds the power to change you forever.
Rachelle Dekker’s first novel, The Choosing, releases May 19, 2015. Visit her online at rachelledekker.com.
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