The first time I met Christen, I was in my last year at Baylor, and she was a youthful sophomore working behind a counter at the best coffee shop in Waco, Texas (Common Grounds). Her brother, in some way or another, manipulated us into spending time together and as I actually got to know the girl, she had some powerful level of genuine, authenticity. It only took us a few walks around the "Bear trail", a couple cups of coffee, and several "me too!" moments before we officially declared ourselves kindred spirits.
In just a few short years, Christen has taught me so much. She is wise beyond her years, and beautiful in every way. I am so honored and excited to share her post with you...
Growing up, I always asked myself the question, “Where do I fit in?”
This is a pretty ordinary question for an insecure teenager. But to me, it meant much more than that. This question alluded to the deep yearning in my heart to know where I belonged and where I could find fulfillment.
I asked this question daily and based every decision off the supposed answer. For a long time, I thought the best answer was fitting in to the church I grew up in. I tried conforming to everyone around me by following the rules and acting as if I was a "perfect Christian girl that went to youth camp and never sinned". I thought that if I could change my personality, clothes, humor, and interests to fit the mold of Christian culture, then I’d figure out the whole Jesus thing. I quickly realized that trying to fit into this Christian mold was incredibly draining and nearly impossible. So I decided to change directions and start looking for fulfillment in other “worldy” things. This led me to my next destination -- boys.
From freshman year in high school on, I developed an obsession with obtaining approval from men. I wore gallons of makeup, dressed provocatively, and developed somewhat of an eating disorder all in the hopes of attracting a guy that would love me. I dated guy after guy, looking for someone that could fill the void in my heart that screamed for affirmation, identity and unconditional love. After a few heart breaks and a lot of bad decisions, I began to realize that this too would not answer the question “where do I fit in?”. From then on, I continued to pursue every outlet possible – popularity, family, alcohol etc.
But the answer to my question continued to be “no”. So, I retreated to a dark place of feeling completely rejected by everyone and everything.
During my freshman year of college my search to answer this haunting question came to a dramatic end. All of my pursuits came crashing down around me. The boy I was dating broke up with me because I cheated on him while I was black-out at a party. I transferred schools and didn’t have any friends. No one knew who I was and it didn’t feel like anyone cared. Lastly, my amazing father passed away after an eight month fight with cancer.
I was done.
Hopelessness began to sink in and I thought about where all of my pursuits had gotten me. I never thought in a millions years I would end up here -- depressed and alone and not knowing if I could keep moving forward or not.
That’s when Jesus showed up.
In my brokenness, sin, and shame I remember feeling this urge to pray. For the first time in my entire life, I heard God speak to my heart,
“Christen, I created you and I love exactly how you are and there is nothing you can do that will ever change that.”
I was baffled. I thought I had to fit a mold in order to be loved. God was telling me that he made me exactly who I am and that He loves me despite how broken I am. In Ephesians, Paul talks about God’s unconditional love for his children.
He says, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
God loves me unconditionally and perfectly.
I realized I had been asking the wrong question the whole time. “Where do I fit in?” suggests that I could change and conform to fit a worldy mold that I’d once considered “right”. And in doing so, I would have finally felt whole. But what I didn’t know, and came to realize, is that this wholeness can’t be found looking outward at the world, but in looking inward at the work God is doing in my heart.
The question I should have been asking was “Who am I?”
I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image for the purpose of bringing glory to Him through embracing my unique design and using it whole-heartedly here on earth. That is the answer I was looking for all those years -- I just couldn’t find it because I was asking the wrong question.
Now, armed with the right answer, everything else started aligning. My depression lifted, my feelings of insecurity and fear subsided, and a new sense of purpose gave me vision for the years ahead.