When my sister and I were kids, our parents took us to church and often, we’d visit our grandparents after the service. They had a big, in-ground pool and we loved to swim. Sometimes, our mom wouldn’t let us take a dip, and we had to longingly watch our cousins dive and do cannonballs and splash around.
There we were, in our Sunday best; outsiders in our own family, at least that’s how it felt. Unable to be a part of what everyone else was doing.
In some ways, I remember feeling the embarrassment that turns your face red when you spill milk. In my case, that happened at a fancy banquet hall during my grandparents’ wedding anniversary party. My father chided me in front of the family and I got more upset because I felt so unworthy — demeaned and shamed.
From my limited, 8-year-old perspective, I was instantly the pariah of the party and I couldn’t stop crying. The vacant feelings on Sunday afternoons sans swimming held the same sting of shame for me.
I see now that 25 years ago, I had the self-esteem of Swiss cheese. Why? Perhaps because I wanted to fit in, or maybe because I felt alone. But if I valued myself as God values me, that void would have been replaced with peace, love and security.
See, I bought a lie about myself, all the way back when I was a child, and it said I was unworthy of the wholeness others had. I wasn’t good enough to have that acceptance, even from my family.
But in John 14:6 Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I’ve learned now that when the void creeps in, growling in my ear that I’m no good, it’s time to pull out the truth test. What does God say about me?
He calls me His child, His love. So much so that God sent His Son to carry my sins and sorrows — even the void — so I would never be condemned to again. He did all this even before I loved Him, and He calls me justified even when I don’t feel or act that way. There’s not a void in the world that can empty my soul of that truth.