This weekend I had the honor of singing on the Praise Team of my alma mater’s Alumni Weekend church service. I went to a church school from 8th-12th grade so our reunion festivities always include a worship service. The program was beautiful, and it was awesome to see people I had gone to school with all grown up and doing their thing. But….(you sensed that coming right?)
Being in the room with my former schoolmates really brought me back to the feelings I felt as a teenager. If you’re anything like me, high school was a time of awkwardness and insecurity, of looking for belonging and acceptance from peers. I had a circle of girlfriends, but I think even among them I kind of stood apart because of the choices I made.
See, way back in 9th grade, I decided that I wanted to take my relationship with God seriously. Having just come out of the public school system into a church school, all the praying and chapel programs with skits about God being our friend and helping us make choices about dating and premarital sex made me realize I really wanted to have a relationship with God that was personal. The world seemed big and the possibilities for my life were endless, but I felt like I really needed His guidance. And a big part of my commitment was the decision NOT to have a boyfriend until I felt like God Himself sent me one.
You can already see how that went, can’t you? A teenage girl striving to be devoted to God with NO BOYFRIENDS stamped across her head...I became popular, but not in a desirable way. Some of my classmates called me “Ellen White,” (if you don’t know her, look her up, lol), and my life usually felt like I was watching everyone else have fun while wondering when it would be my time to shine. Did I mention that I was raised in a strict Haitian household?
My appearance didn’t help matters. I wore metal-rimmed glasses, had eyebrows that looked like caterpillars, and dragged a rolling bookbag around campus because of my scoliosis. Y’all, the struggle with insecurity was real! Every once in awhile I would get my hair pressed and feel like I looked alright for a week or two, but for the most part, I felt like an ugly duckling.
But life went on. And while I did fall in love with two boys in my class (not at the same time of course), I never got into a relationship with either of them. I told them I just wanted to be friends because I was waiting on God to give me the okay and He hadn’t done that yet. College was more of the same. I went to the University of Miami, a private but very secular school that had people of every culture and kindred. Talk about culture shock! So while it was great to be surrounded by all kinds of people and learn about their cultures, I was still looking for belonging. Between commuting almost two hours each way every day, and my premed classes, I had neither the time nor inclination to “party” like a college girl. Besides, I was still serious about God and my decision to no boyfriend until God sent me one that had the same values as me and ABSOLUTELY no sex until marriage.
I wonder how many other young women are out there that feel the way I felt; like, yes I am voluntarily waiting for the right man to show up, but is it something about me that’s turning them off? Am I not attractive enough? Am I not cool enough? Sometimes I was tempted to just forget about my values for a hot second and just enjoy the fun like everyone else seemed to be doing. It was just so dang lonely and isolating at times!
But that’s why I want to share my story. Awkward girls do get happy endings, but the happiest part of that is learning to be comfortable in your own skin and enjoy life on your own terms instead of comparing yourself to other people. I’ve learned that the people who seem to be having so much “fun” sometimes make choices that leave them broken, scarred, or hurt. I was scared of experiencing that, so I chose the road less traveled and didn’t have sex until I was married. My husband was my first real boyfriend and I have no regrets about that.
My choices don’t make me better or less than anyone else. I’ve learned that whatever path you choose, the road isn’t easy. You will either endure hardship now, or you’ll endure it later, but either way, it won’t be easy.
So stop comparing your path to everyone else’s path. For every young woman out there who’s making the less popular choice to WAIT on God, stand your ground! I wish I had someone who could tell me way back then that strength of character IS beautiful and attractive. I wish I had someone tell me that no matter how the boys in my classes viewed me, their perception of me had more to do with them, than anything wrong with me. I wish I had someone tell me that I didn’t need to walk around thinking I was so uncool when I would be a voice of encouragement for the girls coming after me.
I didn’t have anyone tell me that. But I’m here to tell you. So walk with your head held high and stick to your convictions. Your beauty and desirability lie in the belief of your own worthiness. That will make the road you’re walking a lot more hopeful and happy.
You are enough!