identity

Together we rise

By Jessica Brodie

Sometimes we encounter someone who believes in us so fervently their faith inspires us to soar.

My teenaged self was miserable, overwhelmed by all the changes in my body and plagued by fears I’d never be good enough. My friends called themselves “lucky” and “blessed,” but I could never relate. I dreaded each day as my low self-esteem convinced me I was cursed and disliked, a misfit who’d never find joy.

Then I found myself in Mrs. Sampson’s tenth grade classroom.

Mrs. Sampson was the sort of teacher who made everyone feel valued and worthy. We had an A in her class, and all we had to do was maintain it. We were smart and funny, or so she made us believe—responsible and intelligent enough to handle the work she gave and then some. She looked us in the eye like we mattered, like each one of us was genuinely interesting.

A unique psychology arose: We wanted to be as good as she believed us to be! We didn’t want to disappoint her. It became a magical time of learning and growth, intellectually and emotionally. Later, when I taught, I wanted to do that same thing for my students, and as a mom, I try to do that for my kids.

Mrs. Sampson’s inspiration reminds me of the greeting in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In first century Palestine, it was incredibly difficult to follow Jesus. Early Christians faced persecution and death and were used to being hated. I imagine they had days when they struggled with feelings of worth and ability, much like I did as a teenager, not sure they could go on. I’m certain they struggled to know they were blessed as snide jeers—and worse—followed them everywhere they went.

Early Christians faced persecution and death and were used to being hated. I imagine they had days when they struggled with feelings of worth and ability much like I did as a teenager, not sure they could go on. Click To Tweet

But Paul wanted these early believers to rise above. His letter started with a bang of cheerful reassurance, as he reminded these Christians of who they were in Jesus: holy, loved, and so very fortunate in spite of their hardships. He wrote, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:1-3, ESV).

Like my high school teacher, Paul didn’t hide his encouragement. He showed he believed in them and genuinely wanted the best for them. He reminded them of who they were at their core: people chosen by God! God’s “saints,” he called them—special, endowed with gifts of faith and eternal soul-blessings beyond measure.

Like my teacher, Paul didn’t hide his encouragement. He reminded the early Christians of who they were at their core: people chosen by God! Click To Tweet

I hope they found comfort and hope in Paul’s words, just like that bunch of teens in Mrs. Sampson’s classroom did all those years ago.

Some days are tough. We may wonder why God entrusts us, so inferior and sinful, with the mighty task of spreading His Gospel. But we are God’s holy, blessed people. And together, we rise to the task.

We may wonder why God entrusts us, so inferior and sinful, with the mighty task of spreading His Gospel. But we are God’s holy, blessed people. Click To Tweet

Have you ever wondered how God is able to use you? Has anything—fear, doubt, etc.—stood in your way?

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