Once upon a time, there was a happy little girl. She liked to tell stories and play dress up and write letters to her grandma who lived far away. She had an unabashed love for Disney princesses, Nancy Drew, and the family cat. She wanted to be her uncle when she grew up, she sang off-pitch most of the time, and she was an Olympic-hopeful in sock skating. She wore high-waisted pants with her shirt tucked in, cried when her mom trimmed her hair, and didn't care the tiniest bit how she looked when people took her picture or any other time.
Somewhere along the way, that little girl got lost.
You could say she grew up, but that's not the only thing that happened. She did grow up. She got taller (though not by much). She started getting layered haircuts and wearing makeup on a regular basis. She started paying more attention to grades and realistic possibilities for future careers. She started thinking about the future.
But you don't lose your childhood self just by growing up.
Somewhere in the midst of that normal "growing up" process, the Sarah that I was, the Sarah that made goofy faces and danced in the kitchen on her dad's feet and didn't care what you thought about her music tastes got lost. She got lost in life. She got lost in the reality of a sinful and broken world. She got lost in the lies about who she was and who she wasn't.
She started becoming more concerned with what other people thought than what she thought or what God thought. She'd cringe when she looked at pictures of herself, always quick to pick out the tiniest flaw. She tried to be quiet, because everyone always told her she was too loud. She wore heels because it always seemed liked the boys liked the tall girls, and she wasn't a tall girl. She began coping with her insecurities by pushing people away. She became "prickly" and simultaneously desired so desperately to be loved.
Sometimes she'd get a glimpse of the little girl she'd once been and she'd wonder, What happened to her? I want her back.
This life can be really scary. It can be dark and painful and not enough and way too much all at once. It is filled with questions and doubt and insecurity and frustration and confusion and uncertainty. We are broken people living in a broken world and you and I feel the effects of that brokenness every single day of our lives.
I don't remember when I first started hearing the lies.
I don't remember the first time I thought I wasn't tall enough, I wasn't skinny enough, I wasn't quiet enough, or I wasn't pretty enough. I don't remember the first time I thought I wasn't smart or funny or worth having around. I cannot pinpoint the moment when the enemy decided to start working his way into my heart. His work was so subtle, so quiet and unassuming that I let it happen over years and never even noticed.
Many of the lies I believe about myself can be traced back to one moment during my sophomore year of high school — my best friend gave me a laundry list of my character flaws and shattered my world. I crawled inside my head with my battered and bruised heart, unsure of what had just happened or how to pick up the pieces. And I let the enemy crawl inside with me. And he whispered so many lies to my heart, so many lies that I didn't even know were lies until I'd already been believing them for years.
A broken heart is a dangerous place without the Gospel.
It's been almost nine years since I started believing the lies and it's only been about four years since I've really started to combat them, since I've really started to identify all of the little nuances and absurdities about the person that I am that the devil has been whispering to my heart day in and day out since January 2005.
In many respects, I've made tremendous progress in replacing the lies about who the devil says I am with the truth about who God says I am, but lies are pervasive. The enemy knows my weaknesses, he knows my triggers, he knows how to knock me down and keep kicking me while I'm there. So far more often than I'd like to admit, I still live like those lies are true.
But that is a false narrative — and I'm tired of living a false narrative.
I have believed I am too short. I have believed I am ugly. I have believed I am too loud. I have believed I am annoying. I have believed I am worthless. I have believed I am beyond redemption. I have believed I am too much for anyone to handle. I have believed I am not enough to make me worth someone's effort. I have believed I am not smart. I have believed I am not talented. I have believed I am not interesting or engaging. I have believed I'm not a good writer. I have believed I will never succeed at anything. I have believed I am a bad Christian. I have believed I am the world's biggest screw-up. I have believed I am a bad friend. I have believed I am a bad sister. I have believed I am a bad daughter. I have believed I am a disappointment to my friends and family. I have believed no man will ever love me. I have believed I have disappointed God. I have believed I am unworthy of love. From anyone. Ever.
These are all lies. Every single one of them.
And I am telling you these lies I have believed because lies can't live in the light.
There is power in declaring the false narrative we have believed and lived and saying, "NO MORE. This is not the person I was and this is not the person I am." There is power in declaring the ways the enemy has lied to our hearts for days or months or years or decades and stopping him dead in his tracks. There is power in declaring that the truth of the Gospel is far greater and far better than anything the enemy could ever tell us.
Because the truth is I am the perfect height. I am beautiful. I am the perfect amount of loudness. I have worth. I am never beyond redemption. I am not too much and I am worth someone's effort. I am smart. I am talented. I am interesting and engaging. I am a good writer. I have succeeded at things and will continue to succeed at things. I am a child of God. I am not a screw-up. I am a good friend. I am a good sister. I am a good daughter. I am not a disappointment to my friends and family. I believe one day some man will love me. I have not disappointed God. I am worthy of love.
For nine years I have in one way or another daily lived a narrative that declares the lies of the enemy as truth and the truth of the Gospel as lies. And living that narrative shortchanges the Gospel.
It is a false representation of the sacrifice of our great God. It is a false representation of the work He did for us on the cross and the work He continues to do in the hearts and lives of billions of people around the globe. It is a false representation of the war that has already been won.
You are loved. You are worthy. You are beautiful or handsome and smart and funny and interesting and worth the time of the people who know you because you are worth the time of our great God. Push the lies into the light.