When I mentor young women, I often ask, “If you could go back in time and speak to the younger version of yourself, what would you tell her?” It’s a question I regularly consider myself. My list changes from year to year as I mature in my relationship with Jesus. However, the one piece of advice I tend to circle back to is this: You will be tempted to pick at, criticize, and tear apart every good thing about you – from your gifts, to your looks, to your ideas, to your passions. Don’t give even a corner of your mind to such thoughts. You are only adding to the madness of a misguided culture if you do. Instead, look at yourself and say, “I am in the process of being made into the likeness of Christ–and his work is always very good….”
I walked onto Wheaton’s campus with a bag full of the latest academic work on Leadership and Evangelism, a computer, a handful of snacks, some gum, and a massive cup of coffee. I also carried an even heavier emotional bag full of concerns, nerves, and questions. What will I bring to the table? Can I handle this level of scholarship? How will I use my voice? Will they even like me?
I sat around a table with yet another group of women who were confessing feelings of loneliness and shame.
“I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.”
“I see pictures on social media of people hanging out. Why aren’t they including me?”
“When will I get over my teenage insecurities?”
“Why are friendships with women so difficult?”
“I was rejected again.”
“I don’t feel good enough or capable enough to be used powerfully by God.”
On the night of Cam’s funeral, we lit paper lanterns and watched them float across a starry Nashville sky. Some of the lanterns came together and formed the letter C, as if God was saying, “I see you here. I am honoring Cameron with you. You are not alone.”
Sometimes during the day, I see clouds in the shape of the letter C, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s my imagination or if it’s another supernatural gift of love.