Dear World Changer,
If I could go back 10 years ago to talk to myself before I went into high school I would tell myself that I had it all wrong. That finding worth in what other people thought about me was going to lead to disaster…
The summer going into grade nine all I did was hangout with my elementary school friends. We knew we didn’t have much time together because of the different high schools we were going to be attending so we took advantage of the time we had. These friends knew who I was, that I was a pastors kid and literally lived at the church. They would come to youth with me on a regular basis and not just to the fun nights. They knew that I loved Jesus with all my heart and wouldn’t miss church for anything. Then came high school, where I knew no one, I was scared to meet new people. I was scared to tell them I was a Christian because I didn’t know what they were going to think.
All my life I have been so focused on what everyone else thought of me. I was worried about being too fat, too annoying, too crazy, too silly, the list could literally go on forever. I always looked for the approval of others, and if they didn’t seem impressed, I would try anything to get them to think I was awesome, no matter what. For some reason I never felt like I would find my self-worth in God, I never heard an audible voice, or a clear sign that would tell me “Natalie, this is what you were made to do” or “Good job Natalie!” I also didn’t listen to what the Bible said about me and God’s plan for my life. Even though I heard about it at church all the time, I was never able to believe it.
When High School came around nothing changed, I walked into the doors and thought, “Wow, here is my chance to finally be with the ‘in crowd’, to start fresh and be with the cool kids”. As I started to meet people I would find myself hiding the fact that I’m a pastors kid and go to church at least three times a week. I began hanging out more and more with my school friends rather than my church friends; I also became willing to miss youth more often to be with my “cool friends”. I had a fear on missing out on things and felt that if I wasn’t there they would stop inviting me and I’d lose my social standing with them. So I went to my friend’s houses instead of youth, birthday parties instead of youth, and then when grade 11/12 came those harmless birthday parties turned into real parties, and that’s when I began to enter the party scene. I began to act like my friends, in the way I thought, talked and acted.
Eventually my friends found out that I was a Christian, that I grew up going to church and my dad was a pastor so I began to overcompensate for it. I would go to a party and drink not because I wanted too but because I had to show them that I was “one of them”. All I wanted was to fit in and feel accepted…to feel loved. I thought “If I only had their approval that everything would be okay,” and because of this God’s approval of my life lost value.
Looking back, I honestly have no idea why I did what I did or made the choices I made. I wish I knew why because even though I had a huge group of friends in high school and was classified as one of the “it” people to hang out with, I now talk to none of them. When they found out I was planning to go to Bible College and become a pastor, I am pretty sure they were confused. I made a hard choice and took a year off after high school to get right with God and get back into being heavily involved with the youth group at Church. All I can think about when looking back is how confused my “friends” must have been and how they probably have a messed up view of what a Christian is.
Instead of trying to fit in with my friends and be the person everyone wanted to hangout with, I wish I had focused more on who God wanted me to be. I wish I thought about what His plan was for my life. I wish I had been straight up with my friends and led them to Jesus instead of giving them a messed up version of what a Christian is. I wish I could take it all back.
As much as I say that I wish I had done things differently, things would not change until I had it in me to change my mindset, and what I truly thought of myself. I had to do a mind shift and stop believing what others thought of me and start believing what God thought of me. I had to believe that I was a Proverbs 31:25 woman, and remind myself of this verse constantly “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” That I truly was beautiful on the inside and out, that God loved the fact that I was a crazy, silly, loud, overly enthusiastic girl. In fact, he made me that way for a purpose! He had a plan for my life, and I needed to fully surrender and trust Him. That He wouldn’t let me fail, but prosper. Jeremiah 29:11 has been a verse that I am literally constantly saying in my head, and reminding myself of every day.
God does have a plan for everyone, and He loves the person you have always been. He isn’t there to drag you down, or remind you of your poor choices but He’s there to lift you up and see you succeed! It may be a bumpy ride to get to that spot, but it is so worth it. I’m still figuring out His plan for my life, but let me tell you, it’s already been amazing. I married my best friend whom I love so much, and loves me for who I am. We now have an amazing 2-month-old son who has totally stolen our hearts, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us as a family, and my life individually. I have hope for the future because I know, and believe, that the God who created me loves me more than I could ever imagine. Anxiety of people liking me or feeling accepted is now washed away because I know that I’m never alone & always Loved by Him.