Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters student Carolyn Dale Newell
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14 NKJV).
“I am what I am.” These words hung above my teenage bed. I hated myself, and I wanted to be anyone but me. Anyone but a girl who was legally blind.
I didn’t win any popularity contests, and I could only call a few people true friends. Nothing quenched my insatiable thirst for companionship.
During my eighth-grade year, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired purchased a high-powered magnifier for me. The three-inch dome would slide across my books as I read. When Mrs. O’Conner, my health teacher, received a message that the guidance counselor needed to see me, I pretended I knew nothing about their plan.
I grabbed my purse where the contraption made its home, bounded down the two steps of the trailer which housed some of our school’s classrooms, and I entered the main building. My footsteps echoed as I strolled the empty hallway to the guidance office. Mrs. Hype didn’t need to see me. This ruse kept me out of the classroom long enough for Mrs. O’Conner to tell the class I needed to use a magnifier, and to tell them I was different. Like they didn’t already know.
When I returned to class, I slid into my desk, trying not to draw attention to myself. I felt all eyes watching me. As Mrs. O’Conner explained our lesson, my fingers opened the book, but they could move no farther. They fiddled with the corner of the health textbook, unable to unzip my purse and pull out the magnifier, so I could read.
When the final bell rang that day, I crammed my bookbag full of books until it bulged, ready to rip at the seams. I would use the magnifier at home, and never at school.
Words from the past haunted me. Dead eye. One eyed jack. That one slipped from the lips of an adult family member. A teenager needed popularity and a boyfriend, not ridicule and shame, and I did whatever it took to try to achieve that unachievable goal.
As an adult in my twenties, I found that the party crowd accepted me. I started drinking and smoking pot to fit in, and it worked. When I went shopping, I dared not seek help. Sometimes, I bought the wrong item or paid too much. I still refused to help myself with a magnifier.
My vision grew worse. I needed a white cane to navigate better, but I viewed it as another object that screamed, “I’m different!”
Then came Jesus. The partying ended along with friendships. Once saved, I still clung to my old identity; I was older, but no wiser. Christians gathered in the same cliques as high school students. Economic cliques, social cliques, and the best-dressed cliques, and once again, I didn’t fit in. My heart ached each time I didn’t receive an invitation to their annual beach trips. In retrospect, why did I want to hang out with people like that? What about all the love one another verses?
Changes transpired when I received my guide dog, a beautiful black Lab named Iva. She cut through crowds like a hot knife through butter.
Iva opened countless doors for independence. Iva and I went shopping. We went out to eat, and we even went on vacations together, just Iva and me.
I found love and acceptance in the eyes of my adorable bundle of fur, but God kept working on me.
God worked on my need to belong while He moved me in other directions. I discovered that I only needed His love and acceptance, not the opinions of people. I’ve also learned that I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s OK.
Friend, perhaps you have tasted the bitterness of rejection. Maybe you carry a shame too heavy to bear. Have you known the feeling of loneliness when you stand in a room filled with people?
If you answered yes, I want to hug you and open our Bibles to Psalm 139. Let’s unpack the treasures I have discovered in this passage. God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderfully connotes distinguished. We are His marvelous work, meaning extraordinary. String that all together and God calls us His extraordinary, distinguished, and marvelous daughters.
Yet, we disdain ourselves like a defective appliance nobody wants. Even with my flaws, and I have many, God holds me in high regard. Even as a blind woman, without the gorgeous black Lab, He cherishes me. Because He created all of me, including the flaws and the blindness.
Now I consider the handicap I hated most of my life as a gift from the One who loves me more than I ever thought. He accepts me just as I am. He even created this spunky, four-legged girl to walk by my side, as an expression of His tremendous love.
“I am what I am” no longer hangs over my bed as a lie. I am what I am because my Father made me to be who He wanted me to be.
Have you fought back the tears when you didn’t belong? Have you stuffed down the bitterness of being overlooked? Trust me, friend, you can find true friends who accept you. You can start with Jesus Christ who loved you so much just as you are. He died for you. No rejection, just pure acceptance. Run to Him, and allow His love to help you appreciate yourself just as you are. You are who God created you to be.
Christian speaker and author, Carolyn Dale Newell, uplifts the hearts of readers on her website (www.amountainoffaith.com) and through her books. She loves digging deep into Scripture, discovering truths to share with her readers.
She is currently enrolled at the Tony Evans Training Center working towards a certificate in Biblical and Theological Foundations.
Carolyn lives with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. Carolyn resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband, Tim. She loves reading, pizza, and discovering new independence with Iva, her guide dog.