Seen and Loved

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This summer, the student authors of the Rooted Student Series give us a taste of the themes we explore in our upcoming book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. As students either currently in high school, college, or just recently graduated, our writers offer us a fresh and unique perspective of the Jesus they got to know in high school or wish they had known when they were younger. Their stories and their wisdom will help youth leaders and parents guide their students through high school and point them to Jesus.  -Rooted Student Series Editor Lauren Center

I was a pretty awkward kid in high school. My first couple years of high school I didn’t have a lot of friends, I was shy, and I was known for bringing a book with me everywhere I went. Social situations were often hard for me. 

That always felt very isolating, like no one else understood what I was going through or believed I could be more than the shy, awkward girl I presented to the world. I was wholly convinced I was invisible (and I still feel that way sometimes), not worth anyone paying attention to. Thankfully my youth pastors saw that I could be more.

Halfway through my sophomore year of high school my youth pastors asked me to join the leadership team. They had noticed me and seen something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. It was terrifying for me to join but ultimately good came from it. 

At first I really struggled to see how I could possibly be a leader. Because of the internal struggles I was facing to feel like I belonged, I turned to God. I leaned into Him and His truth. For the first time I found myself wanting to read the Bible and understand what His word meant; I wanted to know what God said about me. 

Slowly my insecurities faded as I realized the security I had in God. I was known, loved, and seen by God. 

One of the ways he revealed this to me was through the community I had in my church. While I was in my silent struggle to feel like I belonged in general, but also specifically on the leadership team, I ended up in a conversation with a girl a couple years older than me to talk about my strengths and weaknesses. Naturally I was scared to even have to talk about what others perceive as my strengths and weaknesses (I don’t always take criticism well), but one of the things this girl told me affirmed me. She told me that I was a quiet leader. 

At fifteen years old I had a clear view of what I thought leadership and what being a leader was. I had this idea in my head of what a leader should be and I did not fit this picture I had created: outspoken, bold, and unapologetic. I thought being a leader in the church meant I shared my faith whenever I could, I had to be loud and proud about God, and do my quiet time every single day. 

I was all too aware that that wasn’t me. But this girl I looked up to told me I was a natural leader. Just not in the way I had pictured. She told me I was a leader in my actions and obedience. 

I wasn’t a leader because I drew attention to myself, I was a leader simply by how I lived my life and how people saw me do that. I had never known that leadership could be quiet or that I could be a leader. Hearing this gave me a sense of security I hadn’t had before. 

I definitely continued to struggle to feel like I belonged, but now I had that little bit of truth to hold onto. God used that girl to remind me of what was true. To remind me that I was seen by Him, belonged to Him, and loved by Him. All so I could do the work he had set before me. 

Throughout this experience, I got to know God in a way I never had. He was not a grumpy man in the sky who required me to fit a certain mold in order to please Him. He simply loved me for who I was and reassured me of that every step of the way. 

If I had not gone searching for this in Him I may have never found it. My security in God came not only from seeking Him, but also from remaining in Him. John 15:4-5 says, “ Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me”. 

When I felt lost and alone, I delved deeper into my relationship with God and found that just trying to do more or fit this image I had of a leader would not make me secure in Him. If I simply remained in Him, remained faithful to Him, the rest would follow. 

God didn’t want me to put on a show or be someone I wasn’t for him to love and see me. All he wanted was for me to form a relationship with him. The God I got to know in high school is so loving and caring. He doesn’t care about the boxes I check off or fit into; He simply sees me for me and loves me wholly.

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