This has become my mantra, the truth that I cling to, the thing the Lord’s been teaching me that I’ve been trying to soak in.
In the midst of these life lessons and heart shifts, I like to get everything in order, to wrap my brain around all I’ve thought through and been reminded of. I like knowing where I’ve been, where I am, and where I still need to go.
Writing, for me, is the best way to do that…
My earliest memories of the lies I’ve believed came in elementary school. In first grade I was told by a third grader that I wasn’t welcome in the hallways when I was on the way to the bathroom. In second grade I switched schools and was teased by one of my peers. He danced around me and called me “French Fry” at recess, which looking back is quite silly, but at the time was hurtful.
Somewhere in the mix things were happening at home and I was convinced my parents loved my sister more than me. I didn’t feel like I was getting the time or attention I needed, so I packed a bag one morning before school and said I was running away, though I never made it out the door.
In sixth grade I changed schools again and had to endure rumors being spread about me. The summer before seventh grade another move left me friendless. I did my best to fit in with the basketball girls, since I made the team that year, but was often the left over.
In high school I decided I didn’t want to date until I was sixteen, but I still wanted attention from the guys, even if it meant them asking me out and me telling them no. This continued into college as couples paired up and started getting engaged and married. Freshman year I sat with one friend, the two of us alone at the back table at the spring formal, feeling very left out and unwanted.
Since graduation I’ve battled pretty consistently with feeling like I’m not good enough at my job, and undesirable where dating and marriage are concerned.
And through it all, Jesus has been whispering words to me: “Worth it. Chosen. Greatly loved.”
Some days it’s enough. Other days I’m in tears because being uninvited and feeling unwanted sucks.
About a week ago I picked up Univited by Lysa Terkeurst. Just reading the subtitle, my heart responded: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. One thought from a recent chapter has really stuck out to me: Being set aside is different from being set apart.
Set aside means you’ve been cast off, unwanted.
All of those memories I saw as ways people were setting me aside. But Lysa offers an interesting question: What if all of those times we thought we’d been set aside, the Lord was really setting us apart?
Set apart is all about being prepared for a specific purpose.
Suddenly, all those memories are filtered differently.
Those times of being left out at school have given me a greater compassion for the lonely. I’ve been challenged to reach out to others sitting alone at the lunch table (and the back corner table at spring formal). I try hard to befriend and love the outcasts because that’s how I felt for so many years.
With dating, I know the Lord’s honoring the prayers I prayed years ago that my love life would be different. He’s given me time to prepare my heart for my future husband. But most importantly He’s shown me how He meets those heart-longings I’ve expected my future husband to fulfill. Jesus has romanced me, wooed me, chosen me. He’s shown me what love and pursuit look like.
My feeling of inadequacy in my job has helped me not put so much stock in what I do. I want to do my best, but my work does not define me—Jesus and His thoughts about me do.
It’s still a journey, and I think I’ll continue growing in these two powerful words until the day I die.
But now I have to other words to pair with it.
Jesus doesn’t just call me worth it; He says I’m set apart.
I am not cast aside, unwanted and unnoticed.
I am set apart for a purpose.
Set aside carries a connotation of rejection.
Set apart carries a connotation of love, hope, and purpose.
You may feel rejected and not worth much because of what you’ve experienced or what others have said to you. But hear the truth, dear heart: You are loved. You are chosen. You are sought after. You are worth it.
You are not set aside.
You are set apart.
Live in His love!