There are certain trials in everyone’s life that makes each and every one of us as Christians wonder “why me, God?” I know I have been there. One trial in specific in which I have seen an unfortunate series of “why me”s is self image. Boy oh boy have I been there and done that with the “why me”s.
This past week I had the privilege of sharing about my journey with self image in front of 100 high school kids. Talking about insecurities in front of 100 high schoolers doesn’t seem that fun. But, along with the fact that I have zero issues with public speaking, I was looking forward to seeing God redeem a tough story of mine to make it a lesson for others and testimony for His goodness.
Sharing our stories and struggles is so important for people to get to know God. We see this in scripture. For example, in John 4, a man’s entire household came to believe in Jesus because the man shared a story about Jesus miraculously healing his son when he was just moments away from death. People get to know Jesus when we share our stories, which is why I saw it as my duty as a Christian to share even my most deeply rooted struggle with 100 of my peers. But the sharing of how God has healed this struggle of mine shouldn’t stop at 100 people, which is why I am writing this post.
Let’s go to John 9. Jesus is walking around in Jerusalem and comes across a man that has been blind since birth. The disciples asked Jesus “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)
That’s kinda how I felt for about a year and a half. No, I wasn’t blind. But I was quite insecure. Since I can remember, I have always picked myself apart for my physical appearance. I swam laps in the fifth grade on my family vacation to lose weight instead of spending time with my family. I wore makeup every day for 4.5 years beginning in seventh grade. At first, I didn’t want my friends to see me without it. Then, it grew to me not letting even my mom see me without it. I avoided sleepovers where I’d have to take my makeup off, and I skipped pool parties to avoid bikinis.
Once I met God, I would read scripture telling me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and “altogether beautiful” (Song of Songs 4:7) but I did not feel that in my heart. My head and my heart were constantly at war. How could I read the truth of God telling me I am made in His image but not feel that in my heart? I prayed and prayed and prayed that I could see myself through the lens of Jesus, but I saw no change. I prayed for 1.5 years and saw no change. Why didn’t God want to answer this prayer for me? What did I do wrong that I couldn’t see myself as Jesus sees me, or as John 9 says, who sinned that this man was born blind?
Jesus’s answer in John 9 is pretty powerful, and answers a lot of the “why me”s we face in life. Jesus answered “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” (John 9:3) Nobody did anything for this man to be blind. I didn’t do anything wrong to not see myself as God does. God gave this man full blindness and gave me blindness to my beauty in God so that He could heal our hearts and reveal himself to all that see it happen.
Jesus followed through in John 9, just as He did with my self image battle. Verse 6: “When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with his saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him ‘go wash in the Pool of Siloam.’ So he went and washed, and came back able to see.” This man who had been blind since he was born was now able to see because Jesus said so. Jesus simply decided to forgive and heal him, and the man didn’t have to do anything to earn this. It wasn’t an agreement between the man and Jesus, that if the man did something drastic, only then would Jesus heal him. Jesus simply decided that this man’s story would be used to show the goodness of God, and that the man needed to do nothing in return for this. The man didn’t need to do anything in return for Jesus giving him the most beautiful gift he would ever receive: eternal life and sight. Jesus is cool, man.
Yes, like this man’s eyes, my heart was healed (thank God). The Sunday morning of Young Life campaigner weekend, I woke up and scurried to the bathroom so that I could put on my makeup before the person staying in the hotel room with me could see me bare-faced. I closed the bathroom door and hesitantly looked at myself in the mirror, like I had been doing every morning for years. I was expecting another “why me” when I looked in the mirror, another “why can’t I just believe what God says about me?” But that time was different. I looked at myself and tilted my head a little bit as I said “I don’t want to wear makeup today. Look at how the Lord made me! I think I’ll go without it.” So, ladies and gentleman, that was the first day in 4.5 years that I went in public without makeup– cue the applaud sound effect.
In John 9, people were curious as to why this man could all of a sudden see, and were questioning whether it was even the same person as the blind guy they were thinking of. They were curious, and asked the man who was healed how the heck he could all of a sudden see. The man who was healed responded with something along the lines of “I don’t know… I washed my eyes like Jesus said to do, then I could see. He healed me.”
In the same way that this man’s peers were curious about his healing, my friends were curious about mine. They would ask “what exactly happened, Alyssa?” and I would answer in the same way that the man who was cured of his blindness did. It was something along the lines of “I don’t really know. I woke up this morning and saw myself through the eyes of my Savior for the first time.”
I didn’t do anything to earn healing, and neither did the man in John 9. Jesus healed us both so that we could be proof of God’s goodness and power. I am not sure exactly what that looked like for the man in John 9, although his story does suggest that through his healing many people began to believe in Jesus as the messiah, which is huge. I do know for sure what this healing looked like for me.
Between one on one conversations and Crossroads HSM talks, many people have come up to me and told me how eye opening my story was, and how much it helped them. One friend in particular said she could feel God as I was speaking, and through my story many of her confusions were resolved and the “why me”s in her life were answered.
No, I am not bragging about how much “I” have helped others or how much “I” have spoken to them, because that’s certainly not the case. All glory goes to God on this one. The only thing I did was have the courage to open my mouth, then the Lord did all of the talking, and told people specific things to teach them specific lessons from my hardship that He wanted them to hear. The kingdom expands and grows exponentially as we speak up in testimony of Jesus. All I did was allow God to speak through me and allow Him to use the redemption of my trials as testimony for His goodness, and I encourage you all to do the same. Share your stories! That’s what they are made for anyway.