When You Don't Recognize Yourself

On a whim, I sit down in front of a camera, fumble with things I don't know how to do, and try to give the world a glimpse of the woman behind these words.  My voice, it trembles a bit with the weight of all the nerves, and I'm not convinced this is the right thing to do.  Who am I, but an introverted girl with a broken past and a fear of not being enough?

But I write down words here in this corner of the world because I've lived them first and He's the One writing the story of a life.  How can I keep silent about the God Who's loved me into being? 

And I want you to see my face, hear my trembling voice.  Because maybe then you'll understand there are no pretenses here.  Only a woman walking with her God, Him healing all the broken places, her letting the Light of His Glory shine straight through.

So I take a deep breath and speak into the empty room, trying to still a heart beating fast and a mind racing ahead.  It comes out stilted at first and I start again.  And again.  And again.  I laugh at the mishaps and wonder if I'll ever get it right.  But there's nothing to prepare me for what's coming next.

I push play, begin to watch the recordings one by one.  And I avert my eyes because I'm afraid to see that I've made a fool of myself, laid out all my imperfections for the whole world to see.  But I hear a voice speaking the words I remember, and I'm stopped short.

I glance at the screen and I can hardly breath because I don't believe what I'm seeing.  Who is this woman, her voice soft and sure, her face lit up with hope and joy and life?  She can't be me.

I've never seen her before.

It's the next day when I sit down to record the real thing, and I'm still reeling from the revelations I don't yet understand.  But it's finally clear that I'm doing what's right and I'm starting to see that it isn't just the ones who read my words who need to see this woman I am--it's me, too.

Because God's been unearthing me these last months--years, even.  He's been stripping out the fears and pouring Himself right in, and somehow He's breathed courage under my skin, convinced me that who I am isn't meant to be a burden to me or to the world.  No, she's meant to be a gift.

He knit me together in the darkness of a womb, carved His own image into the marrow of my bones, loved me without end before I'd even begun.  And He knew I'd break before I could even write my own name, knew I'd carry wounds and fears and deep pain for decades of a life.  But He knew, too, that this world would never be a match for His Love, that there was no damage He couldn't heal, no sorrow He couldn't use for His Glory.

And maybe it's taken me years to figure it out, but oh, finally I'm learning that this woman I am--she's enough.  And she's not a burden at all.  She's a gift.

I've been writing it out loud in bits and pieces these last months, and His Truth, it's been taking root in the soil of my being.  But in my head I've still been holding that picture of the girl I've always been.  Broken, afraid, unlovely.

And then I see myself right there on the screen and I don't see that girl I used to be.  I'm stopped short because I don't really understand what's happened.  I've still got plenty of broken places.  I'm still afraid in ways that I can't name, and yes, there are still pieces of the unlovely lodged deep, waiting for the breaking and the healing only He can give.

So why can't I stop staring?  What's made this woman so different from who I used to be?

I wrestle long with what I've seen, and it's days before I remember the words of a friend.  She wrote them after looking through the pictures of my growing and somehow she saw what I couldn't until now.

...you look beautiful--His love for you is written all over your face...

And my heart, it falls clean apart when I hear Him whisper the answer I've been seeking.

This woman, she's still broken, still afraid, still full of unlovely places He's yet to carve out and rebuild.  But when I look at her face, hear her speaking of life and love and Him, I don't see all of that anymore.  I only see this:

She is loved.  And she knows it.

It might've taken a thousand different things to finally convince me of the love He's always held me in, and I might've made that declaration loud and clear on a day in the middle of July.  And I might've thought I knew how His Love would change everything, but why didn't I realize it would change even the face of the girl I used to be?

I look at her, the woman I am now, and I see Him.

His Love, it's settled down into every part and I'm no longer the one I used to be.  He's done what few of us ever thought He could, least of all me.  And I'm face down under the weight of all His Glory because He loves me and I know it and, yes, it's changed everything.

Won't you let Him change everything for you, too?


  1. Amazing. The best thing is the revelations we are given as we serve the Truth, and see Him there.
    Joy and celebration as you behold the butterfly you have become, leaving the earth behind!
    Thank you for sharing yourself in Him,

  2. @Kathleen: Thank you for celebrating with me! I've been wrestling all week with this story and hoping that it would be understood when I wrote it. Thank you for sharing in the joy. And yes, what a gift these revelations are! Who are we that He should reveal the Truth to us--that He should reveal Himself to us? But He does and, oh, I'm so grateful!

  3. "His love for you is written all over your face"-what an astonishing, right statement. First I read what I expected to see, "Your love for Him..." and then the context pushed me back and I saw the better, actual words. There is a verse in Psalm 34 that says the faces of those who look to Him are radiant and will never be ashamed. You remind me of that. Beautiful!

  4. @tinuviel: Thank you for that Psalm! I looked it up and when I read "...their faces are never covered with shame," my heart caught in my throat. How true it is that this Love of His has finally found a home in me because the shame's been healed and it will never cover me again. I can never thank Him enough for what He's done in me. And thank you, Friend,for speaking His Word back to me. Blessings to you.

  5. When you don't recognize yourself anymore, that is when you see Jesus in your own face.

    For me that has been, by turns, a frightening and astoundingly joyful journey, but I know He has helped me see all of the work He's done in me.

    I also know that the same is true for you, Courtney. Thank you for your amazing vulnerability.

    From a brother-in-Christ who is living out eucharisteo even when its hard.

  6. @Lover of Christ: Yes, "frightening and astoundingly joyful" is an apt description of this journey with God. I am so grateful He has done this work in your life, too--because the way He's changed me these last months and years, I wish it for every one of His people. May His Grace fall heavy on you, Friend, as you breath out thanksgiving even in hardship. Thank you for reading.


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