By Joanna Delalande
Growing up in this world is very difficult. It feels like there is one acceptable way to look, be, act, and if you are anywhere outside those requirements you are "not good enough".
As a teenage girl I always thought I needed to be outgoing and resonate confidence to be "good enough", and I didn't fit the mark. I was shy, reserved, quiet, awkward and overflowing with insecurities.
I come from a Christian family so I thought I knew all about God but He felt distant to me so I did not know what God had made me for.
I joined the youth group at my church when I was 12 and there I began to understand that God has revealed Himself in the Bible as someone I could talk to at any time and that He wanted a relationship with me. He wanted us to be close. He wanted to be part of my life.
Over the course of that year I grew closer and closer to God in a very steady, subtle way, so much so that it became hard for me to pinpoint one moment where I truly surrendered my life to Him for myself.
The climax of that decision was at a 2010 youth camp. On the Saturday night, as we were singing songs of worship to God, I was completely overwhelmed by His love and His presence in a way I never had before. I felt like nothing was separating us. I fell in love with that feeling of closeness and oneness with my Heavenly Father. I let Him in, trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have never looked back from that decision. God was not just a part of my life now: He was the centre.
That is when I truly became a Christian – when I decided for myself and not because of my parents or pastors or anyone else – I wanted to give my life to God. To live every second of every day to give Him glory.
With that desire to serve God, my insecurities only seemed to grow stronger. All around me were people for whom it seemed so easy: the confidence to go up and talk to people and the charisma to speak in public.
How was I supposed to share the good news of Jesus when I found it so difficult to do those things? I felt restricted by my personality and, once again, "not good enough" to do the thing I wanted to most: serve God.
But as my relationship with God grew stronger my identity in Him also strengthened. I began to realize God created me this way for a reason. The things about me I resented; my shyness, my awkwardness, my quiet and calm demeanor; had been designed specifically by Him. And once I let God take control of my life I found I could achieve things I never thought myself capable of.
Soon I was speaking at youth and leading the middle school aged Sunday school group at church; things I never saw myself doing before. I became comfortable in my own body and began accepting myself for who I was. I no longer felt I had to hide or change because I knew I had been wonderfully made by the Creator.
In my relationship with Jesus Christ, my weaknesses became strengths. My insecurities melted away. As I read Bible passages like God's calling of Jeremiah (see chapter 1), I understood that God was telling me: 'I knew what I was doing and I still chose you, you and no one else, to do amazing things.'
God isn't finished with me yet. He still has a lot to do in my life. Right now He has me studying journalism at university and serving in my church, and I look forward to seeing where He takes me next. I rest in the fact that He is in control and as long as He is, I can go further and achieve greater things than my shy, reserved self ever could on my own.