Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~ Luke 12:7
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
This post is an expanded and embellished version of the devotional that I gave several times during the summer when I was a prayer partner for the teen counselors. The role of a prayer partner is mainly that–praying for your counselor and her campers; but it also includes being sort of a second counselor to the girls: hanging out with them, getting to know them, eating meals with them, basically focusing on that particular cabin more than all the rest; and one of the main things you usually do is come into their cabin before lights out and lead the devotions for the cabin. So this was what I talked about with a few of my cabins.
One thing I have struggled with all my life is self-rejection, not accepting myself for who I am, trying to change my personality or my looks because I just thought I was imperfect and didn’t measure up to what I should be. I had enough trouble just battling my own thoughts of rejection, but added to that was a huge bundle of outside rejection, whether perceived or real. Throughout my childhood I had major struggles with feeling rejected, ignored, worthless, and generally unloved by my friends and other people around me. Thankfully, I have an amazing family who loves me and accepts me, and I’ve never had any major issues with feeling unloved by them.
But outside of my family, in my circle of friends at church and in other groups, desperate people pleasing on my part, constantly desiring and attempting to be accepted and wanted, that was the story of my life. More frequently than not, the rewards to my many attempts were to be ignored, forgotten, or looked down upon. I have never been part of the “in” crowd; I’ve never been the popular type. Maybe it’s part of my introvert personality or something, but wherever I go I never fit in with the cool crowd. I’m just too cool for them. They wouldn’t be able to handle my off-the-charts level of cool exuding from every pore, so I just spare them the distressing experience. In case you didn’t realize, I just employed the use of sarcasm there.
Honestly, I don’t really have what it takes to be popular, no matter how hard I may try. Not that I really want to fit in with the cool popular crowd. I don’t care about it that much now, but there was a time when that constant realization was a daily trial and struggle for me. I was always stuck in the out-crowd, and was often looked down on and made fun of by the in-crowd.
That caused an even bigger problem in my perception of myself, and I constantly wished that I could change my personality, my looks, and many other things about me that defined who I was. I worried about what people thought of me, constantly trying to do or say what I thought would bring me the most positive appearance to everyone around me. I wanted to be the one that everyone liked and wanted to be around. I wanted to be the perfect person.
I didn’t realize that in thinking about myself that way, I was giving in to one of the biggest, fattest, ugliest lies that Satan has ever invented. Satan wants us to dislike ourselves and wish we were better or cooler or more outgoing; he wants us to think we are worthless, purposeless, and unloved; he wants us to be discontent, and think we know better than God; he doesn’t want us to realize what a masterpiece of creation that we truly are and how much of a treasure we are to our Creator. He doesn’t want us to learn who God really is and what He really thinks about us. Because if we did, the weight of those lies would vanish and become meaningless to us.
If we truly understand God’s love toward us, we will know that He designed each one of us with intentionality, perfect precision, and the utmost care. Before the world began, our Heavenly Father was dreaming and planning of the infinite variety and uniqueness of each individual that He would create.
Psalm 139:13-18 is one of my favorite sections in the Bible that speaks to this issue and declares with certainty the absolute, irreplaceable, and one-of-a-kind treasures that we are in God’s eyes.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
This scripture passage presents an incredible truth that can change our whole outlook on life.
Eons ago, God looked through the annals of future time and saw you–He saw who you would be and lovingly designed you with your unique personality, your eye color, the shape of your nose, the family and place you would be born into–He purposefully designed who you would be and what you would look like and placed you in a particular time in history, because he loves you with an everlasting and incomprehensible love.
He created and designed you, not only as a unique and precious person, but also with a unique and special purpose attached to your life. You were born great. You have a part to play in the grand scheme of the universe that is absolutely necessary. Every aspect of you and your life has a purpose and a reason.
You are not a mistake or an accident. You were planned from before the universe began; you are the result of a deliberate and intentional act of God. Even if you may have been a surprise to your parents, you were not a surprise to God. God told Jeremiah at the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:4-5).
You are valuable to your Father. He knows the number of hairs on your head. You are much more precious to God than the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31). He doesn’t let a single one fall to the ground without his notice–how much more important are you than a sparrow?
He created you exactly how He wants you to be; you are perfect in His eyes–you don’t need to change a single thing about yourself. That’s an amazing thing. (I’m not saying you don’t need to change anything about your life–God knows that we all need change in our lives, we need to be transformed into His image; but those parts in your life that do need changing, God will take care of by His grace and in his timing)
But, just as amazing, He didn’t just stop with creating you as a person. God’s love is so rich and multi-faceted. Even though He knew that sin and evil would taint you here on this earth, He decided that despite those flaws, He still wanted to keep you his forever and have a relationship with you; He wanted to make a way of restoration and healing; and to accomplish that He sent his son Jesus Christ to come down to earth and take away the punishment for all of your sins so that you could go to heaven and live with him forever.
If you have received that gift of eternal life and become His own child, you are in an infinitely better place now than you even would have been before sin entered the world. You are not only a treasured design of God’s creativity, but also a redeemed, righteous, justified, loved, eternal son or daughter of the Living God, your heavenly Father.
Another one of my favorite scripture passages that perfectly expresses this concept is Ephesians 2:4-7:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eternity will never see the end of the immeasurable riches of God’s grace, mercy, and love toward us.
God knew what he was doing when he planned out your details, and He wants you to trust Him in them. His wisdom is infinite and vast, above anything we could imagine, and His love for us is beyond comprehension.
So in conclusion: Be who you are; love and accept who you are; not to the point of pride and excessive self-esteem, but humbly and gratefully loving how God has made you, with the personality, physical traits, time and place in history, that He’s given you; knowing that nothing that people may say or do to you will have the power to tear you down or strip away your intrinsic worth. Because you know you are valuable. You are accepted. You are worth more than gold; more precious than all the riches in the world. You are beloved to God.