Beautiful: of a very high standard; excellent
Beautiful. A word that many people throw around, but not many people truly believe in. It seems like it’s easier for people to call a painting, a flower, or even a building beautiful before we ever call ourselves beautiful. This can be due to many different reasons. Some think that if they truly believe they are beautiful they would be considered conceited. Others don’t believe they are beautiful because they either got used to, or believe the lies that others tell them when they say that they aren’t. I can relate.
This idea of beauty was hard for me to grasp as a young child. I was a shy, quiet, and overweight kid who barely got noticed in school. I was bullied because I did well on my work. I also got made fun of whenever I tried to speak up. This made me quickly learn that in order to be liked in elementary school, I needed to be “normal”. I needed to fit in. I tried to suppress anything and any quality that made me unique. As I got older, this type of thinking made me feel like I was average and had no talent. I told myself that I wasn’t special. I had nothing to offer.
I remember going to Youth Group one day. I did the usual; walked around and sat in the back row by myself. That day was nothing like usual, though. My Pastor (Shawn Bentley) decided to speak to me one on one. He told me some words that rocked my world: “Joel, God has a calling on your life.”
Those words made no sense to me. A calling on my life? How? I have nothing to offer? I’m not good enough. I’m too shy. I’m too quiet. So many thoughts and excuses for why I knew I could not have a calling on my life ran through my mind. The only thing I could think to say at the moment was, “Me? Shouldn’t you speak to any other student? I’m ok where I’m at. I could be anywhere else. I could be out in the streets. I could be messed up, but at least I’m in church. At least I’m here.”
I remember Pastor Shawn looking into my eyes as if he was looking at his own son. He then said these words that I will never forget: “That’s the problem, right there. God isn’t looking for your ‘at least,’ He’s looking for your ALL. When you decide to get out of your comfort zone, get out of your own way, and allow Him to completely use you, you’ll see the amazing things that God has for your life. It’s up to you to take that first step, Joel.”
As he spoke to me, I sat there and just thought to myself. Wow. God can choose to use anyone that He wants, yet He wants ME. He WANTS to use ME. I’ve never felt wanted before. I’ve never been in a situation where someone decided to choose me. I’ve been rejected plenty of times, but being wanted? This was new territory. I decided then and there that I would stop with all of the excuses. If I was really going to give my all to God, I was going to give Him my best. I no longer wanted to be ok with just being ok. I wanted to be great, not only for myself, but for Him.
It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but I can now tell you that as soon as I decided to get out of my own way, and allow God to take complete control of my life, I realized I had never felt any better. Knowing that God WANTED me, made me feel beautiful. No matter what the world threw my way, I continued to trust God and know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am His. I am of a very high standard. Everything God does, He does in excellence. Therefore, I started to believe and now I know that I am beautiful. I surrounded myself with people who would continue to encourage, speak life, and pour into me. I continued to view myself in a different way and learned to truly love myself. And now, I want to do the same for other people.
People tell me all the time, “Joel, you’re always smiling!” It’s true. It’s because I know who I am in Christ. Once I figured out that God was the source of my joy, nothing could take that away from me. I choose to be happy, no matter what my circumstances may look like.
I want to encourage anyone and everyone reading this blog, it doesn’t matter if you were the shy, insecure kid, or the outgoing one; God has a calling in your life, and he WANTS to use you. You are beautiful. Give him your all, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
I am Beautiful.
I am FEARLESS. 4.15.16