It has been almost ten years since we last spoke.
I remember the images and the feelings of our conversation vividly, but the details have started to fade. . A young 17-year-old me staring down, as you, an older woman, held a Bible . Your words confirmed my worst fears. The fears I had hidden deep in my heart: that I was not good enough. I will never know why I let you speak into my life the way you did. I don’t know why your rejection cut me to the core.
“All you are is a career woman. A man wants a wife who will stay at home, and raise children.”
“Your theology is wrong. You are deceived. Why would anyone who knows the truth want you to be a part of their family?”
“You are stuck up. Everyone thinks so.”
“You think you are better than everyone else.”
“I mean you are smart. I guess you are pretty, but you are so bold. If you are like this now I cannot imagine what you will be like when you grow up.”
“I do not want you around my family. You have not done anything wrong necessarily, but you are just not a good fit. You are different. You are not what we want.”
I guess it was the first time someone truly made me feel unlovable.
I came from a loving home. I had a lot of friends. I was kind of quiet, and I got lost in my thoughts often. Apparently this made me seem spacey. I was often a little awkward, a result of my lifelong struggle with small talk. But I was genuinely not a mean person. I felt love for others deeply and sometimes fumbled with ways to express that love.
I was aware of all my shortcomings, but you listed quite a few I did not think I owned.
I knew of the fear I harbored deep in my soul. A fear that I have come to find lays buried within every woman. Women like me… and a woman like you. The fear that we are too much, yet we are not enough.
A vicious circle of lies about our identity and worth that can keep us captive for years. How can we find a way out when this thought process allows us none? I will tell you: through grace. I found grace. And grace is what I would like to give to you.
It is by Grace I know love, and it is by Grace I give love.
You see, when you tore me down that day, a self-righteous anger rose up to fight back, to protect the heart of a tender, young girl. I am sad to say that anger turned to bitterness. And just like that, I let the words of a woman whose role in my life had been fleeting, take a foothold in my heart, I let your words harden me. I became critical and cautious of my fellow Christians. I became what I had hated most. I felt judgmental and unkind. I became very guarded. I did not feel free.
I felt trapped by my own insecurities and bitterness.
It was not long until I began to feel the weight of my sin. I felt the need for grace. And still, deep down, I desired to know that I was not too much or too little. That I was enough. I felt the need for fellowship, but I was afraid to be vulnerable with new christian friends. What if you were right? What if other Christians would say the same things?
Still holding onto the lies about my identity, I went on a missions trip to Greece to work with girls who had been trafficked into the sex trade on the streets of Athens.
Night after night I held conversations with the most precious of women. These were young women with hopes and dreams just like me. Women with a deep longing to know that they were enough. A longing I could partly identify with. They longed to know that they were good enough to be free, that they were worth it. Night after night, I endeavored to show them that they were worth love; that they were precious. They were precious to Jesus. They were precious to me. And that is when the Lord spoke to me:
“Shelbi, don’t you know that is how I see you? My Shelbi you are precious too. You are enough. My Grace is enough.”
And in that moment I was set free. I was set free from the bitterness. The confusion, and the fear, because no matter what, I finally grasped the depth of the Lord’s love for me. I was able to hold onto His grace towards me. He is a God who has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) A God who delights in me (Zephaniah 3:17) I am never alone; for he is always with me (Duet. 31:8) I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) I am whole (Colossians 2:10) And I am free (Galatians 5:1) And nothing can separate me from His great love (Romans 8: 39)
I am enough.
So dear sisters in Christ, I have been wounded; as I am sure you have. But, His grace is enough. Know you are precious. Know you are loved. Know you are enough.
Shelbi is a freelance writer and stay-at-home Mom in sunny California. She spends her days chasing two active little boys and loving on her wonderful husband Taylor.
Shelbi’s story is one about finding joy and purpose when God guides you into a season that looks totally different from what you had planned. Once a traveling adventurer, a UCSD graduate, a law school hopeful, and aspiring social justice missionary, Shelbi found herself pregnant in her first year of marriage and called to love on her family from home.
When Shelbi learned to embrace her new reality, she found purpose and such joy in what she had once considered mundane. This is her hope for other woman- to show them that there is an abundant life even in the mundane.
Shelbi believes that the joy of the Lord is our strength. In pursuit of this strength, she strives to help women find peace, joy, and a whole lot of laughter in their extraordinary, wonderful, everyday lives.
You can also find Shelbi over at her personal blog “And Then Came Baby” at http://shelbiklein.com where she tries to help her readers find the humor and joy in marriage and Motherhood. You can also follow her crazy life on her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shelbiklein/?hl=en or her facebook: facebook.com/AndThenCameBaby/.