circle of hikers looks down at camera on ground, pointed at sky

During one of my first summers working at Rock-N-Water I was, to put it lightly, smacked in the face with God’s love. That summer I entered into a community of people who trust in God and build their lives upon the belief that they are, above all else, beloved children of God.

Take It Back

Growing up in a Christian home, I had memorized verses, sung songs, and told others about how “Jesus loves me” (this I know). I knew this as a fact; it was in my head, but I didn’t really act or live in that love.

For a lot of my life, I had cared more about what others thought of me than what God thought of me. Sometimes it was a positive thing, such as my parent’s encouragement and affirmation of my God-given gifts. Other times it was a pride-producing thing, like seeking other’s admiration of my accomplishments.

I focused not on my status as loved and accepted by God, but on the things I did. And so, I determined my worth that way. Though I had been taught and given grace, I still acted and lived my life as if I was judged according to the things I did.

girl swims under water in river in canyon

Perspective

That’s not the way God sees me though.

During my first year as a volunteer at camp, Rock-N-Water’s founder, Craig Lomax, got together with our volunteer squad and showed us two different flow charts. Actually, they were triangles. Each triangle illustrated ways of living life. On one side, was a triangle I was very familiar with. On the other, a triangle I was beginning to learn about. Craig went over both with us.

While outlining the first triangle Craig explained how living a life that is built upon creating my own self-worth is one that leads to two things, pride and insecurity. I knew I totally related to the this triangle the second he drew it out on a piece of paper.

You see, when I live my life caring so much about what others think of me, everything I do is an attempt to persuade other’s that I am worthy of their love. When I am successful in doing this, I feel good about what I have done, and those feelings lead to pride. When I fail in my attempts to elevate my self-worth through the admiration of others, I become insecure. My worth is based on my accomplishments and my identity has become what I do.

Church youth group sits together in the river durring a backpacking trip

A Better Way

But God knows who I am! I am loved and nothing can change that! (Romans 8:37-39). This is the foundation of the second triangle; the one I am now in the process of living out.

This triangle outlines a life that is built upon the truth of God’s love. My life is no longer a balancing act where I find my worth in what I do and try to hold it all together so others will admire me. Instead, my identity is in who God says I am!

I still fall back into old habits; trying to impress people to feel good about myself here and there, but as I continue to learn about the God of the universe, my Father, and the love He has shown me (and you too, btw) the more I realize that there is nothing I can do that will separate me from His love.

Beginning with this knowledge and foundation of identity allows me to take risks, engage in my relationships with more depth, be silly, and worship whole-heartedly. I could get used to this.

By James Asselin, River guide and worshipper of Jesus