A few weeks ago I was standing in line for a ride at Six Flags with about 15 other WinShape Camps summer staff at our Staff Reunion. Waiting in lines is not something I’m good at.Even with the thrill of a giant roller coaster awaiting us at the end and the joy of my sweet friends surrounding me, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed as we waited.I wasn’t really in the mood to talk about anything substantial and would have been perfectly content talking about sports or the weather or what good restaurants just opened up around town. But of course, that’s not how it played out. Because when you are around intentional people, they ask you intentional questions. “So Fenn, what’s your story?” I heard the question come from behind me and I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was not one of enthusiasm and excitement. Rather I thought “can’t we just talk about what college football games are going on right now?” But I could tell this friend intentionally asked this question and genuinely desired to know me better. So, in more of a factual tone than a passionate one, I began to tell the story of what God has done in my life. I went through the same events and experiences I always included while telling my story and I’m sure I did the same hand gestures, voice tone inflections, and head nods as well. At one point in my story however, I said something I’ve never said before. It was as if I stopped telling the story and someone else started. I was now just listening. I said the phrase: “I was doing everything and anything I could in relationships with others to make myself seem valuable to them.” I heard myself say it and it was as if a light bulb went off in my head. Wait no, not light bulb. More like a flashing neon sign and bells screaming “ding ding ding!” As soon as the words left my lips I felt like God had completely opened my eyes to see a major pattern in my life. I realized that for much of the 25 years I have lived, I have been striving to create value for myself. I have tried to “market” myself as someone people want to have in their lives. This is all born out of my fear of being alone and being rejected. Somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that I wasn’t enough. And ever since I’ve tried to cover up my flaws, be what I thought others were looking for, and meet the needs of others not out of generosity but because I wanted them to need me. This is such flawed logic. God says this Isaiah 43:1-4:
But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush[a] and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.
We are so valuable to God. He created us, redeemed us, calls us his. He fights for us, forgives us, gives us grace and mercy. We do not need to strive to create value for ourselves or try to market ourselves to others. We are not a brand to be bought. We are detailed creations of the Almighty God. We can’t make ourselves any more valuable than that.Thank you to the person who intentionally asked me to share my story that day. You know who you are. Even years later, God is showing me the patterns of my life, the places I need to trust him more, and just how much he loves me.