I spent the first 19 years of my life feeling totally worthless. I never had a lot of friends, I was in trouble a lot, I lied a lot, and was often reminded of my "sin" and shortcomings. I was made fun of all the time for everything and I just didn't think I was any good at anything or for anybody. I always felt like to even be good enough for Jesus, I had to constantly sacrifice and belittle myself at his feet. On the rare occasion that somebody would compliment me on something, I instantly thought they were lying or taking pity on me. When guys would hit on me, I'd get mad and storm off because I thought they were just doing it to make fun of me. I'd been set up and embarrassed too many times and hurt far too often to believe anything positive about myself. I had ZERO self esteem. ZERO. When I look back at who I was then I just get so angry because I spent so much time feeling bad about myself. I hated myself. And not just because of how I looked (although that was a HUGE player), but who I was at my core. I hated who I was because I thought everyone else did. It wasn't until my junior year of college that I started understanding that I was worth something. That I wasn't the mess of of a sinner that I'd seen in the mirror for so long. I wasn't just the goof off, the class clown, the girl who overcompensated for her insecurity by being obnoxious and acting like she didn't care what anyone else thought. When I finally accepted that I did care and that I was loved by the Creator Himself, things started to change. I gained confidence in myself and who God had called me to be. I learned to accept that I was created in the image of God and even though I didn't like who I was that much, there was a King creating and perfecting the art of Kristen. "Can the clay say to the potter, why did you make me this way?" No. She can't. She just has to try to see the beauty in her mess the way the potter does. But I didn't. And perhaps I still don't.
After we left our youth ministry position and moved and things were tough, I went back to my first love, my greatest gift, the one talent I had that no one ever made fun of...writing. It took a few months of writing and pouring my heart out, but then the e-mails started coming in.
"You just saved my marriage." "I can't tell you what your words have meant to my life." "Thank you for writing. Please don't ever stop." "You are wise beyond your years and you speak truth into the darkness." "This is kingdom work that you're doing, Kristen."
When they first starting coming in, I was so overwhelmed. I couldn't even read them all. I started deleting them and Zach was like, "NO! You're going to need those words to encourage you someday!" But I felt like I needed to write a post exposing myself for who I truly am. I didn't want anybody to think that I was somebody special. That I was holy or set apart or anything more than just a woman in her 20s struggling with life and faith and motherhood. I cried because I felt like a fraud. The words I write on here are always true, but they're only a fraction of a glimpse into who I really am. And I'm a mess. A hypocrite. A fraud. A failure.
But I am also holy, set apart, created and loved by the Creator. The fact that I fail does not negate my righteousness or my calling. My favorite cliche' Christian quote is "Christ doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called." I am a 27 year old Bible College graduate who struggles with doubt, insecurity, failure, and worthlessness. Quite literally, the only thing that's good in me is Jesus. And I love that. I can claim no prize or honor for myself, because without Him, I am nothing and have done nothing. Just know that anytime you look at someone and find yourself feeling insecure or like you're less than what you should be, relax. Breathe deep. I can't speak for everyone, but the only good you see in me is Christ within me. I am nobody, He is everything. I hope that truth is always reflected in what I write, in what I say, in how I act, and in what I choose. He is good and all the good you see in me, is Him.
Thanks for journeying with me, friends.