One sunny day in the suburbs of Georgia, a young girl, age 11, playing flag football with the boys in the street. I was the kid that wanted to be included in on everything. There was no boys or girls club in my mind. We were one unit. An amazing little community of friends we had growing up and chasing adventures together.
This particular day I was on cloud nine. Creaming the boys touchdown after touchdown. Laughing, celebrating, WINNING. Most of them were celebrating with me, except for Tommy. He turned towards me and yelled down the street, “who cares sierra mountains!!! thunder thighs!” All the other little boys laughed and whispered as I stood there clueless. You see, I started developing as a woman younger than most of the other little girls. At age 11, I had what the boys were calling “sierra mountains and thunder thighs.” When I finally realized why they were all laughing I ran home crying, and after that, my relationships with them were never the same, and what I believed about myself wasn’t either.
Instead of belonging, I now believed I was unacceptable.
Many of us have similar stories to tell, and when we look back at these incidents we see that, the tragedy is often not as much the hurt itself, but the places of ourselves that die because of our response. We see that they have shaped and defined what we believe about ourselves and how we interact with community. Once approaching people with open arms, we have now built walls of self protection. We shy away from even small semblances of hurt, and shut ourselves off from others slowly but surely. We isolate because we want to avoid the pain, and begin dreaming about the perfect community.
But what if pain is one of the tools that God uses to reveal His perfect communion with us?
…”And in Him you have been made complete.” (Colossians 2:10)
We find that much of our pain is caused by the unrealistic expectations we have placed on people to love us perfectly and fulfill our longing for significance, value or worth. But, only God has the power to define these things for us. He created us to be each other’s companion, not completion. (Genesis 2:18)
He says that:
We are not incomplete. We are “wonderfully and fearfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
We are not insignificant. We are “God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Drawing our significance and worth from God frees us up to truly LOVE one another despite our imperfections. Now our response can change. We can choose to stay connected instead of isolated.
Staying connected means embracing forgiveness, extending grace and reminding ourselves and each other of our true identity as precious, loved children of God.
At age 11, Im sure I didn't know how to handle the hurt that day, nor did I have a relationship with God to draw my true value and purpose from. But, today I can look back and learn from that story and the many others, to change how I see and respond to hurt in relationships. I am learning to receive my true value and purpose from the word of God and find perfect communion with Him, so that I freely give love and grace to others. For when we truly receive the abundance of love, significance, and grace Christ has for us, we are also able to freely give it, and in that we find that our relationships on earth are truly satisfying. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8