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by Angela Brinkman

For the most part, I tend to be an open book. But there are still parts of myself that I will hide until it gets to be about 1:30 or 2 in the morning- which means that m
ost people never truly get to know me and my hidden struggles. Yet on January 4th of 2019 as I was searching for a worthy article to share with a friend, I had the idea to search for one that would also benefit me. 

This is what led me to type five little words into the google search bar: “boys don’t equal self worth.” 

As the chronically single friend, I find myself comparing myself to others and wondering why not me? quite often. This is where my true self comes out. I struggle to feel worthy of anything, especially the love and attention of not only a significant other, but even just my female friends too. 

But as I read this article, I was reminded that society is set up to constantly compare yourself to others – boys, girls, professors, employers, and even parents sometimes. This article reminded me that confidence placed in attention only leads to disappointment when the attention fades. 

One of the closing points of the article was that it is important not to seek validation from outside sources, because that will only heighten insecurities. This closely touched on a 2am conversation I’d had over break about refusing to compare myself to others, because that is what stands in between me falling short and success. My worth is not determined by how I “measure up.” By comparing, hurdles are put up that keep me from the success I’m after.  I can’t be truly happy without intrinsic support. 

But as this battle of “when will I be good enough?” rages on, in the back of my mind I am reminded of the time I was good enough. I know deep down that Jesus died for my sins. Suddenly, my “why not me?” is turned into a “why me?” What have I done that was good enough for Jesus to actually find some of the worth in me that I seem to think I have? And once again, I’m reminded that there is nothing worthy about me, but Jesus died for me because of His Amazing Grace. 

As that thought rolled over me, I realized that nobody could validate me in the way I need to be. Whether or not anybody else loved me didn’t matter, as long as I was loved by my dog and my Jesus. Since I already know Jesus loves me, the only other one that matters is my dog, and since I take him for rides in the truck, I’m probably set. 

But yet, that leads to one more person I forgot: Me. 

As I rolled my eyes later at the soap in our bathroom shower that was scented “Love” and recalled my littlest sister teasing me that that was what I needed for Christmas, I decided to read the back of the bottle. Instead of claiming that the scent of the soap would cause someone to fall in love with me, it claimed it would “inspire connection and self-confidence.” The pieces began to fall into place, and I realized what I think I’d known deep down for a long time. 

Even if I am loved by Jesus, if I can’t learn to love myself, how can I truly show love to others? Jesus didn’t love me out of duty, but out of choice. Though I might not understand “why me,” I am so worthy because Jesus has made me worthy of His own life, which is way more important and much cooler than mine. I must be someone worth loving, since I am loved by Him. 

This pressure to better myself so that I might measure up or compare to others then becomes ridiculous. There is nothing I need to do to prove myself worthy of love or attention, since I’ve already got that from a source way worthier than anywhere else. If the defining factor about myself is that I run fast, my hair is perfectly curled, I have straight A’s, or I have a doting boyfriend, then people will fail to see that my most important feature is that I am loved by God, cherished by Him, and worth dying for. 

I’d rather be known for that.

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by Kaleb Schrock

If you were to ask me, “Kaleb what Bible character would you say you relate to most?” I would not hesitate to say King David, but not because of his great victories in battle or his epic harp playing skills, but rather for his fall from grace with Bathsheba and his return to God 

I grew up in a strong Christian family for all my life, and I spent most of my time staying with my Grandpa and Grandma. I often joke that I was practically raised by baby boomers. For the longest time I believed myself firm in my faith, but it was in middle school and high school that I stumbled as David had. It was during this time that I was hit hard by lust and depression. I saw all my friends in relationships and they all seemed happy, so I became determined that that’s what I needed to be complete. However, God didn’t see things that way and I kept trying for girl after girl, each time being rejected and instead of heading to back to God. I wallowed in my own sadness and disappointment in myself. 

This is when I found my love of Westerns. My Grandpa has a whole wall in his basement lined with Louis Lamour Westerns, and I would read them and dream of riding on the open plains of the west – no one to answer to save myself, and nature itself a complete escape from reality. But sadly, that’s not how life is. I would always return to my world, looking for my value in a girl that I could call my own. 

Inspired by these dreams of the West, My Grandpa and I began two new hobbies: Rendezvouses and Civil War reenactments. I love to do these events to this day, and it was living out in the woods in a tent with my grandfather and the heat of the cannon during the battles that gave me a sense of freedom from sadness and lust. However, I would come home every time and be slapped in the face by lust that kept bringing me down. Every time I tried to be with someone it failed in rejection and I had a gut feeling that was trying to force God’s hand. Every time I would start I felt a weight on my chest like God was trying to tell me that she was not the one, but I ignored and was scorned. 

This is where the story of David comes in. Like David, I was strong in my faith and devotion to God, but I turned my eyes from God to that of other women trying to find my identity in that. But like David, I also saw that it is God that I should be seeking in my life and he is always there no matter what. I learned this after speaking with Professor Clark, and he told me that I needed to give up the reigns of my life to God. He reminded me of the verse Matthew 6:33 which says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you.” Through Westerns, rendezvouses with my Grandpa, and a change of heart, I have learned that following God and putting Him above all else is the only way that my life will fall back into place.

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By Halle Van Vark

In my opinion, the most underrated character of the Bible is Gideon. Have you ever read Judges 6-8? If not or even if you have, go read it now! I’ll wait.  

I resonate with Gideon. His story starts out by making it clear that he’s basically the least of the least. Gideon was hiding & marked by fear when an angel of the Lord came to him and called him “mighty warrior.”  

Sometimes, I feel like Gideon. I feel scared, hiding because I am certain that I am unworthy. Yet there in the lowest place where I’m sure I cannot be found, God comes to me & gives me a high calling. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” He declares, summoning me to something I can only do with Him on my side 

When I was in high school, on top of the challenges that came with trying to find friends & fit in & all the things, I was also still grieving the loss of my older brother. He was killed in a car accident when I was 13 & that was a deep pain that didn’t just go away with time. However, I had several people who loved me hard through that & encouraged me to see God’s goodness amidst a long season of violent hurt. They poured into me persistently enough for me to establish a foundation of faith that carried me through high school & into college. God also spoke through them, making it clear that He was calling me to do for other students what they had done for me. God made it clear that He wanted me to pursue a career in youth ministry 

A few months ago, I was approached by a pastor & hired by a local church as their youth pastor. First, what an honor! Second, uhh what?? I’m still a college student who has very little experience (roughly 2 months if we’re counting) of doing actual ministry. I am not qualified for this job!  

The instant that thought ran across my mind, I remembered something a pastor once said: “God does not call qualified people, He qualifies the people He has called.” In Judges 6:14, the angel says to Gideon, “Go in the strength you have…Am I not sending you?” Then, after Gideon questions Him, the Lord says, “But I will be with you.” That is the affirmation I have needed from God.  

It matters zero how unqualified I feel to do the things I’m being called to do. If God is calling me, I’m trusting that He is going to qualify me. Like Gideon, I’m still scared. But I’m doing it afraid & fully believing that I can only overcome each battle with the power of my Lord.  

I have good news, though. The same Holy Spirit that rose our crucified King from the grave is within me, too. I am worthy of the calling God has placed on my life. I will choose to trust Him & live out my calling, even if I have to do it afraid. He’ll show up in big ways & I’ll realize that He’s qualifying me to glorify Him every single day. 

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By Ben Pirrie

I am not what you would call a “typical” college student. Unlike most people I did not come straight from high school. After high school, I immediately joined the Army as an infantryman. I spent 3½ years on active duty, most of that time being at Fort Irwin in California. Unlike the California you might imagine, Fort Irwin is smack dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and resembled the Middle East in most ways. The base existed to train units to go to war, and we were used as OPFOR (opposing force). Our lives were an excruciating endless cycle consisting of 2 weeks of training in the desert and then 2 weeks preparing to go
back. 

When I arrived at Fort Irwin I was immediately shoved into the endless cycle of training. With a lack of friends and being 1500 miles from family, I began to be crushed by the weight of it all. I fell into severe depression and lost all hope in myself and God. I tried nearly everything to feel better which mostly involved using alcohol to solve my problems. This only made things worse, and I just wanted to end it all and escape the pain. I went from wanting to go to church every Sunday to never even wanting to think about God. I was angry at God and blamed him for everything; this, however, doesn’t mean God forgot about me. 

Most weeks I would call my mom, as it made me feel less lonely. She had no idea what I was struggling with and didn’t know that I stopped going to church. One Saturday while on the phone with my mom, she asked if I was going to church the next day. I lied and said yes and continued talking about other things. After I hung up, I felt guilty for lying to my mom, so I made an agreement with myself I would go to church if I woke up in time to go. For the first time in months I just so happened to wake up before church started. I begrudgingly got up and headed to church. I can’t tell you what the sermon was about, I just remember sitting in the back and wanting it to be over quickly. 

Once church got over, I immediately booked it out of there, or at least I tried. Before I got to the door this nerdy-looking man stepped in front of me and introduced himself as Stephen. Stephen goes on to nicely ask me to go to a bible study, and I said “yes” – only because I wanted to get out of there. He was clever and got my number before I escaped. On Tuesday night I got a phone call from the leader of the group telling me they got me a ride and that they will be in the parking lot outside my building in an hour. And for some reason I can only attribute to God, I got in the car and went. 

The men of the bible study began to show me something that no one else had showed me in months, that they cared about me. Stephen especially showed this to me as he willingly spent many late nights talking to me about my struggles and God. I had never had someone care about me as much as Stephen did. He became my best friend and my mentor. Through this discipleship and Godly love, I was brought back to God. 

I credit myself being here today because of Stephen and his boldness to act and reach out to me. In Matthew 28:19 we are told to “go and make disciples”, and Stephen was an amazing example of this. He not only stepped out to bring me to Christ, but he then discipled me for almost 2 years. This stranger-turned-friend showed me that we all have the capability to do this, and that you could make an amazing difference in someone’s life. Stephen told me some time ago that I was the first person he ever reached out to when God pulled on his heart, and I am thankful every day that he listened to Him. I now want and try to live my life seeking out those who are lost, in the hope that I can be a Stephen to someone else.

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By Joey Lohse
 

Growing up, I discovered that I was someone who loved to discover the unknown in life. I always wanted to question everything and find a clear black or white answer. Going to a secular secondary education system allowed me to have a sense of freedom to question my religious beliefs and to overlook the importance of what scripture said about my life. So, I lived into the unknown and I learned how to become a good listener as well as an expert at playing devil’s advocate. 

Eventually, I became restless in the unknown. Doubt began to consume my mind as the unknown opened fears and confusion into my daily life. As I listened and pondered over the topics that would come up in class, Ngage, Ned Talks, or even in conversation in the dorms, I began to feel an overwhelming feeling that I didn’t know enough. The anxiety of not measuring up to the people around me intimidated me. This space of unknown that I used to love now daunted me.  Being a science major, I tended to search for those black and white answers, but to my dismay, answers about Christianity aren’t always A or B 

I began to investigate some topics that were most interesting to me. An example of one topic that is still highly debated today is about the conflicting stories of science and the Scripture. I engaged in discussions with my professors and fellow students inside and outside of class about this topic as well as roam YouTube to find other view points and their explanations. I put in lots of time and effort hoping to beat this fear of not knowing enough. I did learn a couple things but not what you might expect. I learned that there will always be another unknown. God does incredible things in the unknowns in our lives. In my uncertainties, I am humbled as God is the all-knowing mighty One. I may question and fear the small details that I want to get right, but I am humbled and drawn to the cross.  

Through all the searching, I have experienced the crucifixion in a new light. God has begun to teach me more about His will and what it means in my life. I will still have anxiety and worry about if I’ll measure up or be good enough in academics or my relationships, but none of that changes God’s love. Too often I was searching for the right answers and trying so hard to do the right thing. The truth is, I haven’t uncovered a new vast knowledge, but I have definitely found new unknowns I didn’t know existed. Through it all, it’s been the test of my trust in God that has led me to a more rooted faith. A verse that God has put on my heart is James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”. I think this verse can apply to so many different scenarios in our lives.  For me, it has been incredibly humbling to know that God is a God of love and mystery. I am not to try and control him with my understanding, but I’m called to steward what’s known and unknown to me with continued trust.