“God, I want to see
myself as you see me. I am tired of
feeling worthless.” This is a prayer of
desperation that we have all prayed. We
question our worth, and we cry out for
solace. I remember one particular
evening in middle school--insecure,
lost, searching--I prayed this prayer.
I knelt there, expecting some sort of
out of body experience. I wanted to
suddenly see myself in an entirely new
light. I wanted my flaws to fade. I
wanted the virtues that I had been
trying so desperately to cultivate to be
all that I could see. Wasn’t I fearfully
and wonderfully made? I was His
daughter; surely the Lord wanted to
convince me of my beauty.
I did not, however, receive this
immediate consolation, so I assured
myself that God loved me and went back
to the less theoretical worries of my
middle school self.
As life went on, doubts of my worth
continued to plague me. I kept telling
myself that I was fearfully and
wonderfully made, but that truth
remained a vague concept--a reassuring
phrase at best. It was not the
convicting reality that defined my
As my insecurity persisted, I descended
into the rat race of proving my worth.
In eighth grade, something changed. I
started to gain confidence, but it was
not because I understood my identity in
Christ. I became one of the top students
in my class. I started swimming on the
varsity team at my high school. I was
voted onto the leadership board for
student government. I became a leader in
my youth group. I suddenly began to
receive a lot of praise for my
At first, it simply felt nice to be
recognized. I appreciated the praise
that I received for acing a test. I
liked hearing my name on the school
announcements after a swim meet. I was
proud to be voted onto the board for
student government. I enjoyed being
recognized as a leader in my youth
But very quickly, that recognition
slipped from helpful encouragement to
something that was vital to my survival.
Success had become core to my identity.
Rather than just appreciating the
compliments that I received, I needed to
ace every test; I needed to be voted
onto the board for student government; I
needed to hear my name on the school
announcements after a swim meet; I
needed to be recognized as a leader in
my youth group. If not, I had failed.
What was I if not successful?
Throughout high school, I lived in this
constant fear of failure--my identity
quavering at the slightest mishap. I was
terrified of anyone seeing my
brokenness. I was caught in the trap of
perfectionism. So much of my energy went
into stabilizing my outward appearance,
I didn’t have time to internalize the
truth of my identity in Christ.
“I praise you
because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made; your works are
wonderful, I know that full
well.” Psalm 139:14
I did not know this full well. The
perfectionism that ruled my external
life had seeped into my spiritual life.
Not only did I have to live up to a
standard of perfection in school,
sports, and leadership, but also in my
walk with Christ. I believed that the
truth of Psalm 139 was contingent on my
efforts. I had to pray every day; I had
to master the joy of the Lord; I had to
perfect every Christian virtue. If I
could manage all this, then my identity
was in the Lord.
Fast forward five years from when I
first prayed, “God, I want to see myself
as you see me. I am tired of feeling
worthless.” It was the summer after I
graduated high school. I had just moved
to Detroit, Michigan for a Kairos Gap
Year. In a completely new place,
surrounded by a completely new set of
people, I was faced with the opportunity
of redefining myself.
I was reminded of that prayer of
desperation that I had prayed in eighth
grade. I looked back at the past five
years of my life, a bit resentful of the
Lord. “Why didn’t you answer my prayer?”
Five days after I moved away from home,
I went for a run. I was tired of the rat
race of proving my worth. While I ran I
repeated this question again and again.
“Why didn’t you answer my prayer? God, I
want to see myself as you see me!” More
and more emphatically with every step.
With each repetition, I would reevaluate
myself. What was keeping me from fully
believing that I was enough? I
would reassure myself, as I had a
thousand times in high school, that I
was “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The answer that came wasn’t the answer I
was expecting. At first, it didn’t even
“Look up. Look
out. Look around.”
My life wasn’t about
me. My identity wasn’t about me. My
identity was in Christ. I was never
going to find the answer to who I was by
looking at myself. I had striving for a
feeling of security in the Lord; I
hadn’t been striving for Him. I
needed to direct my gaze outward. I
needed to look to Him. This gave me the
freedom to be broken. I didn’t need to
be perfect because He was perfect.
“Look up.” Stop reevaluating your worth.
Stop trying to fix yourself. The
Christian life is not a self-improvement
“Look out.” Direct your gaze to the
Lord. “I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made; your
works are wonderful, I know that full
well.” Psalm 139:14. Make your life less
about discovering who you are and more
about discovering who He is.
“Look around.” Imagine yourself standing
on top of a mountain, endless landscapes
stretching down in every direction. Take
in the sheer breadth of God’s creation.
Three hundred sixty degrees of beauty
surround you. You cannot possibly grasp
it all at once. And yet, you are greater
than all of this because you were made
in His image.
The longing of our hearts to find our
identity in the Lord will never be
satisfied by looking at ourselves.
Finding our identity in Him, letting His
truth penetrate to the core of our
beings, will never come from racing
after perfectionism. Instead you must
look to real Perfection. Only by looking
to Him, the one who is truly perfect,
can we see ourselves as we truly
are--humbled, broken yet “fearfully and