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A New Perspective

Cynthia McDowell

“I’ll call you,” he promised as he walked me to my car. He was the guy I liked, a worship leader at our church. The sandy-haired guy with the guitar and a good Christian heart had reeled me in. We had finished eating a spaghetti dinner with his family, and he had played his guitar for me on his back porch. When we said good night, I couldn’t wait to talk again.

crushed soda can FTR iStock_000012186718_Large copyYou know the rest of the story. He didn’t call the next day or the next. I was crushed. How could he not keep his promise to call? I had recently changed my approach to dating, having decided to pursue only guys who honored God. I was irritated that my new approach had not safeguarded me from heartbreak.

When Sunday night came and went with no phone call, I sat on my bed letting the dejection wash over me. I cracked open my journal to record my sadness. But as my pen flowed, my words revealed more than shallow sorrow. One sentence stood out and demanded an answer: “What is wrong with me?”

I tossed the journal on the nightstand and leaned back on my pillow. I was stunned that my identity was tied to a guy I had known for only a few weeks. Indeed, what was wrong with me? Had I boiled my entire self-concept down to what my crush-of-the-month thought of me?

The wheels in my head and my spirit began to turn as I lay there in the darkness. In those holy moments, I realized that I had been seeking my confidence in acceptance, appearance, popularity, and achievements. Truth be told, what teenager doesn’t? But as I searched the Bible for words that would uplift, Proverbs 3:26a (NRSV) assured me: “The Lord will be your confidence.” The words of scripture traveled from my head to my heart and soul.

Intellectually, I knew that God’s approval was the only approval I needed. I had heard that message from youth leaders, my parents, and the occasional devotional. But in my heart I wasn’t sure. How could I possibly find my confidence in someone I could not see?

Still, on that April night, something life-changing took place. I embraced my identity as a loved daughter of God, an identity that could be my safeguard. The next morning, when I woke up, I no longer needed the approval of a guy because I knew that I was precious in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:4).

That rejection was a turning point in my life, for I had gained a new perspective. Rejection would no longer crush me because I was protected by an identity that was solid. It seems my fragile self-concept had to be crushed in order to be replaced with confidence based on God’s love.

 

DIG DEEPER

Recall the last time you felt rejected. Write about it spontaneously, without editing, for five minutes. What themes emerge? Who or what influences your identity as a loved child of God?

devozine Praying Teen Guy TS 117402350

Isaiah 43:4 (NRSV) says, “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” Sit quietly with this verse, praying that its truth will penetrate not only your head but also your heart. If you trust that you are precious and fully accepted in God’s eyes, do you need anyone else’s approval? How would you live differently if you truly believed you were enveloped in God’s acceptance?

Cynthia McDowell lives in Denver, Colorado, where she enjoys camping, hiking, biking, skiing, and writing.

—from devozine (January/February 2016). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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