(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Craving to Be Known
By Amber Johnson
Growing up, I considered our family to be more “cultural-Christians” than actual Christians. We attended church here and there, but sports took priority. Purity in my mind was having the approval of family, upholding an image of perfection, prioritizing what others thought of me, and conforming to who they thought I should be. With this heavyweight placed upon me, I remember being deeply confused and lost. I loved being active and participating in sports, but my conformity and performance seemed more important than who I was as a person. I felt I wasn’t good enough just being myself. I had to earn the approval of others.
This lie affected much of the relationships I had in my youth. I worked hard to look as if I had it all together, trying to please those around me. I often got comments that I was the “good girl,” but inside I was anxious and scared of criticism. I was terrified of standing up for myself for fear of being disliked by friends. I felt shame for who I was and for not living up to the distorted standards of perfection in my mind.
While I craved a relationship with God, I didn’t really take the initiative to seek Him out. I felt I had to “get my life together” before I was good enough for God. Instead, I continued to seek approval from friends and family and was often afraid to set healthy boundaries. It felt like I wasn’t in control of my own life because I was looking for constant validation.
Looking back, it was clear that I craved real love- to be known, but I was looking in all the wrong places. Thanks to a car accident in my early twenties, God propelled me in a new direction. Instead of hiding my shame and guilt, I put it all before Him. I wanted healthier relationships, and I was tired of people-pleasing and living up to impossible standards. I knew I was missing something, but I didn’t know what.
I was missing the truth of God’s grace through Jesus. Through going to church, reading God’s Word, and seeking out other Bible-believing Christians, I learned that true purity lies in Jesus Christ alone.
My Father in heaven loves me and values me, not because I’m perfect, but because He is love, and He made me in love. Jesus took on my punishment and shame in love. In His grace, He does not hold expectations over my head, shame, or demands. I am seen, known, and loved by my Father who is pure and perfect in every way. Trusting in Him, I am purified by His love.
“All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”
– 1 John 3:3
As I began understanding God’s grace through Jesus, it shifted my perspective on purity. I began seeing value in who God created me to be and realized the need for more grace-filled relationships. Through prayer, God brought in healthy, life-building relationships. Healthy relationships build up, counsel, love unconditionally, forgive, and give grace freely. God wants us to walk closest with people who recognize our value and seek after true wisdom in the Lord.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
– Proverbs 27:17
God has shown me glimpses of His purity and love through other believers. I’ve received forgiveness freely with no strings attached. I’ve been given counsel and correction without shame. I’ve been cared for in love when I’ve had nothing to give back in return. And I’ve had loving people sit and just get to know me as a person without judgment, expectation, or shame.
God has turned my distorted view of purity on its head. By seeking Him for truth, I have been given freedom and rest. I have been shown the value of who I am and the importance of seeking out relationships that build up and point back to our pure and perfect Father.