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I recently went through a class called Forward that my church hosted. One of the classes facilitated an exercise that allowed us to hear from God a word or phrase that He wanted to attach to our identity. My words were the words ‘first picked.’ While that seems like a weird phrase, it instantly clicked with me. I knew exactly what God was trying to say. God was saying to me, “You are not my second best. You are my first choice!” The words first picked meant something very deep to me and hearing God say it, changed me.

Now obviously I understand that Jesus chose to come here & die for my sins because He loves me. I understand that He first chose me so that I could choose him. For me it’s not an issue on if I understood his salvation but rather if I understood the healing that still needed to take place in my soul. I’ve received lots of healing for different things since coming to Christ but don’t you know that He will not stop until you are completely free from anything that’s not from him! Some people won’t admit this, but even though I didn’t know it, I still needed some healing in my soul.

When I was younger, outside of my mother, I always felt that I was not anyone’s first choice. Don’t get me wrong, I have a loving mother and step father, but I had a wounded heart. My father left me at a young age. I’m not sure why he left me until this day but that instilled in me the rejection that I was not his first choice in life.

In middle school, I was rejected by the mirror that told me I was too skinny -along with family members, neighbors & random people walking down the street. I guess everyone felt it was okay to comment on my weight. Apparently there are seasons where skinny is popular and seasons where skinny is not popular. However in every season, this has pretty much been my size. Not to mention the most popular girl (the guys’ first pick) had the body I didn’t have, which further instilled my thoughts that I just wasn’t good enough. The girl that seemed to be everyone’s choice had one trait none of the rest of us had – a bigger bust size than all of my little middle school friends combined. So let me tell you what a hormonal middle schooler desperate to be someone’s first pick would do to fix that. Me being the intelligent, innovative, all knowing wounded hearted 6th grader that I was, decided that I knew how to be someone’s first pick. All I needed was a better body. I had to increase my bust size somehow. Desperate, I snuck into my mother’s drawer, stole one of her bras, stuffed it full of toilet paper until it was literally flowing out of the side of my shirt & put on my tightest shirt for school the next day. Let’s just say I got noticed alright. I definitely became the first pick to be talked about during the bus ride conversations. Isn’t it funny the logic a wounded heart has? Why did I think no one would be suspicious of a five size cup increase in the matter of 24 hours!!! It definitely wasn’t funny then like it is now.

[Side note: thank you to a particular 8th grader who was nice enough to let me sit with him on the bus while everyone else pretty much made fun of me. His wife is my friend on Facebook. I wonder what he was thinking that day and if he remembers this kind gesture.]

You would’ve thought I learned my lesson in middle school, but a wounded heart, cannot be healed through experience. If experience could heal us then shouldn’t we all be healed by now? Our wounded hearts must be healed by God Himself and unfortunately, I didn’t know Him then.

In high school, I was told by lots of guys that I was a “wifey type.” While that seemed like a nice compliment, that also meant that they didn’t want to date me right then. “Wifey types” are for later when they are ready to have a wife (or be in a serious committed relationship), but “wifey types” are definitely not for now when the guys want to date around. Logically, you would think that would be a compliment, and to a person without a wounded heart, it would’ve been. Unfortunately, a wounded heart is not logical. My wounded heart told me that I was again not someone’s first pick. I even went to a youth group but did not fit into the crowd of kids that had grown up in the church, because I had no idea who Jesus was at the time. I didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand me. Needless to say, I didn’t get many party invites.

There were so many other events that happened that in my heart solidified that I was just not anyone’s first choice and that I would have to settle being everyone’s second choice in life. Whether from not feeling like THE prettiest or THE best at something or even not being my own father’s first choice, I decided to accept my reality that I would always be the second choice in life. Acceptance was much easier & much less painful than feeling the sting of being rejected again. This truth that I believed deep down became so ingrained into who I was that I was comfortable being the helper of the person in the spotlight but NOT being the one in the spotlight. It was ingrained so deeply that even at the beginning of this year, I actually didn’t know it was still a part of me in some ways.

Fast forward to getting saved, getting married, having a child and working for a church. Even though I started working for the church that didn’t mean that I no longer believed the lie that I was second best. From small to big were infinite opportunities to feed into my second best “truth.” The reality is that when you believe lies, you’re filter is foggy. You see things through the filter of the lie you believe. You judge situations based off of a skewed truth. So that is exactly what I did and the enemy sent plenty of opportunities to feed into that lie – including some people’s judgements, lies and negative comments to and about me. I think this is how so many of us get trapped in the cycle of believing lies about who we are. We believe something untrue & the enemy uses situations and people to reinforce it. We end up harboring bitterness & unforgiveness in our hearts, label it church hurt/people hurt & leave the church or stop being vulnerable with people. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people in church or out of church haven’t hurt us. Trust me I have experienced legitimate hurt, but maybe just maybe sometimes our hurts are magnified by an already unhealed heart. Could this possibly be the enemy’s plan for our lives?

Here’s the harsh reality, everyone is not going to believe in you and you will not be everyone’s first pick … and that’s actually okay. Rejection is a part of life that often hurts but it should not define you. How do you react when people are not for you? Do you get bitter & close your heart? Do you just try your hardest to forgive but feel you can’t? Can you forgive but put up a protective wall 1000 feet high around your heart? A bitter heart from rejection will always lead to some type of destructive pattern. Don’t get me wrong – rejection hurts! However, the choice is ours whether we will let it be an open wound that hurts anytime someone rejects us or we can chose to let God heal it.

Here’s what God said to me in this Forward class. “Amber, you are MY FIRST PICK.” I can confidently say that who I am (a part of my identity) is God’s first choice. You will have many opportunities to be rejected by people, but remember that God is the one that chooses. God is the one that speaks to the core of your identity. God is the one who has the authority and the power to tell you if there are any lies you believe, heal your wounded heart & speak true identity to you. TODAY, I am freer than I ever have been in my life. I even cried tears of joy the other day thinking about the way the Lord brought me out of bondage of the fear of rejection and the fear of people and their judgments.

Remember the story in the Bible of David being chosen by God to be king when no one thought he was the one. While others rejected David, God refused his brothers and chose him.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

I Samuel 16:7 NKJV

Let God look at your heart, heal it & choose you. Let God’s word be true and everything else a lie.

Who has God said that you are TODAY?
 Amber Stephens
Amber’s heart is to equip women to embrace and love who they were made to be. She partners with Out of Darkness an anti-trafficking organization to eradicate human trafficking. She is also the college and career young adult pastor at Victory Church in Atlanta, GA. Amber has been part of The Pink Lid speaking team since 2013.

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