Today marks an entire year since my last time posting on this ole thing. It wasn’t planned out to be this way, but it’s so perfect to describe how detailed God is when he moves and works in peoples lives. If we’re being honest, I haven’t written anything this whole year because I had convinced myself I had nothing to offer. There was no insane amount of Solomon-like wisdom I felt I possessed, and there definitely weren’t streams of eloquent words or phrases that would encourage people to continue reading. I didn’t have a deadline to meet or any kind of pressure to write, I just simply felt as if I wasn’t good enough to add value or truth to anyone who happened upon these words.
This past year, especially my second semester, really took a toll on me. It was a semester of searching, but at the time I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I had just come from an incredible summer and great first semester, my friends were the best people I knew, and I was in a major that I loved and was finding incredible success in. On the outside, things looked really good for Maddy Ray. On the inside though, I consistently had feelings of rejection or being the second choice. Incredible job opportunities that I prayed so hard for went to the person next to me in the interviews. A deeply beloved friend began pulling away and leaving me out of the narrative of their life, no matter how hard I tried to hold on. Positions in my organization that I went out for were given to girls who had my first choice as their backup option. A boy I really liked took me on dates for a bit and then abruptly chose another girl. It was as if I was running a race and kept on tripping right before the finish line, getting back up only quick enough to receive my silver medal and go home.
My inner thoughts were running wild, picking up speed with each of these silver medals life was giving me. I began questioning whether I was ever going to be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fill-in-the-blank enough. I tried my best to look happy and carefree on the outside, but in actuality, I was anxiously second-guessing every move, every conversation, every interaction I made. It wasn’t that I needed to win something to find my worth or that I needed to be the best to feel valued, but the constant lie of rejection and not being enough really weighed on me. This was absolutely exhausting, let me tell you, and one afternoon it just got to be too much for me. I broke down at my kitchen table, tears and all, crying out to God and asking Him to show me who I am in His eyes. He reminded me of the passage in 1 Peter 2:4-5 that says, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (bolding mine). It was at my kitchen table, just me and Jesus, where He gently reminded me that He chooses us every single day. Even when we don’t choose Jesus, He chooses us. We are chosen, we are valued, we are loved, we are enough. Enough for Him to die on a cross so that each of us could have an intimate relationship with our perfect and loving Father.
The enemy loves to plant seeds of lies in our minds, and I was allowing my circumstances to feed and water this particular lie. Whether life is going better than we could have ever dreamed, or just waking up to start another day seems daunting, our circumstances don’t define our worth. Jesus’s love isn’t situational. It’s unconditional and free and never-ending.
It took me leading fourteen 7th grade girls at camp to even try to wrap my mind around the vastness of Jesus’s love. Going into that week, I was a ball of anxiousness and inadequacy, scared these girls would see right through me and straight to my struggles and doubts. I didn’t know a soul, and I truly believed I was in over my head. The Lord was faithful to provide me with the best co-leader I could have imagined, and together we watched the Holy Spirit use the stories of our human mess-ups, coupled with God’s promises of grace and forgiveness, to draw two of our girls from death into life in His name!! As I watched the Lord transform these lives right before my eyes, I was overcome with thanksgiving and hit between the eyes with the truth that all God asks of us is to be willing vessels for Him – no matter how cracked we believe ourselves to be.
It’s a humbling thing, watching sweet middle schoolers give their lives to Jesus. Even as a twenty-something year old, I can learn a lot from them. 1 Peter 2:9 talks about being “called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light.” We are called, by name, into the marvelous light that is life in Jesus. So even if we’re put in 2nd, 5th, or 100th place by man, it doesn’t dictate our value or identity. Jesus picked us FIRST and picks us ALWAYS, which makes us enough for a medal even better than gold – a medal of eternity with Him.