Just a month after a time of wrestling with God, waiting, and loneliness, everything finally started making sense. In May 2015, I wrote these freeing thoughts in my journal:
While I’m seeking God for His plan for my relationships, I realized that I really need to focus on becoming the woman that the man He has for me deserves. …I’m praying that God will shape me into the woman He calls me to be. I’m praying for His wisdom, guidance, and open ears to His voice. Also, I’m trying to focus on satisfying myself in God and being completely content in Him.
It felt so relieving to give those thoughts to God. I had been so concerned with seeking a perfect, Godly relationship, hoping the perfect guy would sweep me off my feet one day. I realized I was missing the point. In that season of my life, at sixteen, my focus needed to be on finding my identity in Christ and being satisfied in His love.
The next six months were a time of growth and joy. God poured into my open heart, teaching me so many lessons about Himself and about who I was in Him. Three months later, in August, I jotted down a whole list of the ways God was teaching me:
God has been teaching me…
Trust and patience
How to really love deeply and selflessly
The glory of His presence
Holy reverence and fear
To cling to good
To place my hope in Him
Greater intimacy with Him through prayer
I had finally surrendered to God’s plan and I was living in the joy and freedom of His promises. Reflecting on those words now, I think that was a turning point in my faith. I realized how weak I was on my own and how desperately I needed God. I was happy and confident. No situation had shifted, no guy had swept in and fixed all my insecurities; I simply rested in God’s plan for me and found joy in the present.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wrestled with this newfound joy and confidence. I still doubted in God’s plan some days. I still do.
Along with my words, I wrote this verse in that August journal entry,
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Paul’s words to the Colossians always give me rest. I love to think about faith that way, that I am roots growing deep into him. I am just a tree, totally dependent on the Creator. I am relying on the One who sustains me, nourishes me, and grants me strength. As faith grows, those roots grow ever-deeper leading to inexpressible praise.
When a tree is young, it bends and sways with the wind. Its branches can’t hold the burden of weight. The sapling must be nurtured and kept until it becomes strong. One day, its branches will be able to hold weary birds and swinging kids, its roots will span deep and wide. Growing faith feels much the same as that young tree. God needs time to work in our heart, giving us the strength to withstand the weight of the world.
Looking back on fourteen to sixteen in my life, those years were transformative to my faith. God was nourishing me and keeping me safe. I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the pressure of a relationship, lest my identity get tangled up with compliments and imperfect human love. I needed to learn who Christ said I was, to find myself in His promises. He took my young prayers and He filled me up, He gave me confidence. I found what true happiness meant, deep happiness that didn’t waver with the temporary promises of the world. I never could have found that true joy in another fallen human, I needed to know what it meant to be satisfied by God’s love. I love how Clayton King puts it:
Happiness is not finding the right person, happiness is becoming the right person.
I needed that time to find God, to become the right person. Since Philip and I started dating, I have been able to enjoy and thank him for his compliments and the love he shows me. But our relationship doesn’t carry the impossible pressure of filling God’s place in giving each other identity. That freedom has allowed me to appreciate Philip’s love even more and to love him back too. It’s not fair to expect a man to fill a role that only God can fill.
Somedays I still lose sight of my identity and I don’t believe what God says about me. I still find myself in tears because I don’t feel good enough, pretty enough, or worthy enough. But that’s the beauty of God’s love. His promises are not dependent on us. We will never be enough, but He loves us anyway.
Girls, take time to find God and who you are in Him. Let His promises overwhelm you, find peace in His truth. You are beautiful, you are loved, and God loves you still even when you don’t feel like you are enough. Learn to smile, laugh, and to truly be happy even when the world is dark. You are not just waiting, this season in your life is so very important. Learn to believe who God says you are. Let your roots grow down into God, build your lives on Him, and grow strong in truth.