by Elizabeth Teo (right, in blue)
Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I am 24 this year. Before coming into SOW, I was often afraid of meeting new people and would rather not have to socialise unless I was forced to. I felt awkward almost all of the time and truthfully had no idea who I was. I told myself I was comfortable where I was in my spiritual journey, but on the inside, I knew I wanted more. I desired greater intimacy with and conviction of who God was to me. However, even in this wanting, I struggled to fully trust Him. I often felt that I wasn’t seen, both by God and everyone else, and that my opinions and desires were not important.
In a memory that was revealed to me, I was silently crying myself to sleep on multiple occasions because I saw my mom hugging my sister to sleep in the lower bunk of our bed. This fear of being inadequate and not good enough rung clear in my heart and head. It led me to become self-reliant and someone who always strived to please others. In my striving, I began to control everything I possibly could, including my walk with Jesus. I wanted to know more and grow in my identity and relationship with Him, but I chose to rely on myself to find my way into a more intimate relationship with Him.
In the school, the Lord pursued me relentlessly. He reminded me time and time again that I am precious beyond measure. I was reminded that my identity is in Him, and that I could lean on Him and allow Him to do the work. I learned that He can do all things for me and desires to pamper me. During a particular worship session, those who desired a hug were invited to raise their hands. I raised mine, but as the staff were moving around hugging individuals, I heard a voice in my head go, “They don’t want to hug you. They’ve forgotten you.” As I heard those lies creeping in, all I could do was to repeatedly say Jesus’ name over and over again. As I did that, one of the staff came to hug me. In that moment, Jesus reminded me that I am seen, and that I don’t have to to strive to please everyone. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of His tenderness.
I didn’t have to make excuses for my feelings or blame myself for feeling them. Jesus showed me that in my self-condemnation, I could forgive. During the same session, we were also invited to hug any member of the staff as a proxy for figures in our lives if we felt like we needed one. As I went up to one of them as a proxy for my mother, she really exuded everything my mom was – her way of comforting, her words, her hug. At that point in time, I needed my mum’s hug very badly and the Lord comforted me through her and reminded me again of my preciousness.
It is all too easy for me to forget God’s love for me and to overlook all that He has done. But as I begin to live in this new relationship with Jesus, it’s for me to choose to lean on Him every single day. He has given me the freedom to discover who I truly am. I am now free to laugh when I want to, to care for myself by setting healthy boundaries, and to be able to express my needs and desires, without the fear of being judged. He has set me free from the need to please everyone. It still takes work to combat feelings of inadequacy, the need to please and the desire to be self-reliant, but every one of these struggles is an invitation for me to surrender them to God, and to trust Him. in my frustration of not knowing, I am called to place my identity in Him first before anything else.
This invitation is not just for me, but for each and every one of us. How will you respond?