Anyone who knows Meredith Smith, deeply knows they are better for it. Everyone she encounters, people, dogs and horses alike, are greeted with a warm, Shreveport, Louisiana accent and a real, Southern embrace. She's the person who pulls over for a stray dog, who brings warm cookies to your doorstep on your birthday (or sends flowers from a distance), who cries with you when life sends you curve balls, and will drive through the night just to give you a hug at the airport...I've known Meredith for 9 years now, and I can personally attest to her embodiment of "as you are".
So, Meet Meredith.
Over the last six months I have experienced more joy than I thought possible, more freedom than I ever knew I was capable, and more peace allowing me to trust in His timing and plan. To me, “as you are” embodies knowing that “who you are” is enough. Being able to genuinely walk (key word, genuinely) in the confidence of who I am is often hard for me.
As life has taken turns and not gone as expected, my confidence has been shattered and I have felt discontent with my life – huge problem. In my heart and life, I was grasping for the next big thing (new job, friends, relationships etc.) and missing out on what God actually had for me. This lack of confidence brought insecurities and loneliness from all directions….
The phrase “as you are” didn’t feel like an option.
My “as you are” was super messy, broken, insecure – it wasn’t something I felt proud of, or something I wanted to share. But, looking back, I see now my messiness was a green light for God’s faithfulness to take center-stage.
Allowing myself to embrace where I was, who I was, just as I was, I have come to know a confidence that I lost somewhere along the way and recognized a difference in Meredith Leigh Smith, fully loved and accepted as I am – terrible with grammar, messy hair, no make-up, thoughts scattered, often times too quick to speak and forgetting what I needed to know 99% of the time.
Choosing to accept that we are loved just “as we are” is mind-blowing, but nonetheless it is a choice.
It is an adventurous fact; a fact that brings freedom in being who you were made to be, along every path we choose to take, over hills of hurt, through rivers of restlessness. There is freedom in saying, “Lord, have your will and way and thank you for loving me where I am – just as I am.” There is no greater adventure than following Jesus and allowing Him to be your confidence, your contentment, your more than enough – to embrace the uncertainty that HE’s got us, and loves us just as we are.
It is indeed Truth that you are loved, accepted and created for His name to be made known. To me, “as you are” means, no matter where you are in life, you are able to come to Jesus as is, no bells and whistles, no expectation to perform, without perfectly articulated thoughts – just you, the created being desired by your Creator. I’ve never felt or experienced that more than being given the opportunity to be a Young Life leader.
Young life has allowed me to be loved as I am, while also learning to love others in the same way – to me, that is a game changer. The reality of your own genuine mess and need of Jesus, hits home when you want people to see what Jesus is doing in your life – even if it is messy. My girls have loved me, served me, and have not cared I was a mess. They had zero judgment, they showed up and chose to invest in me and our time together…it is the sweetest gift to pursue Jesus with my high school besties.
As this phrase has become more, and more real in my life the person who started this has had a super meaningful role to play. She has boldly walked where God has led her and loved the mess out of me over the last nine years. She has been a friend that distance couldn’t change what the Lord had in store for a friendship. Jennie, thank you for your commitment to pursue the responsibilities, and dreams God has put in your heart and to cheer on others as you come to know them, and love them just as they are.