Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When I was in third grade, I played baseball on my uncle’s Little League team. (Yes, that’s super-slugger me in the picture.) I don’t remember, but my parents tell me I actually wanted to play. With my super thick maroon glasses and my not-so-athletic tendencies, I was pretty conscious of the many boys on the team smirking at the grounders rolling between my legs or how I backed out of the batter’s box before the pitch was even released.
I remember one particular game, getting up to bat. If I struck out, the game was lost. If by some miracle I got on first (I hadn’t gotten to first the entire season unless I was walked,) I could keep the game going. I was my team’s only hope.
After the first two strikes in which I didn’t even swing, I readied myself for the next pitch. In the dugout, my team gave a few obligatory cheers.
But I wanted to prove myself that day. Prove that I wasn’t a failure, that I had worth on that baseball team.
So as the ball came barreling toward me, I closed my eyes and swung.
The umpire called the strike, and the game was over.
I had failed.
I wish I could tell you that I practiced really hard that summer, played again the next year, and showed those boys what a little geeky girl could do with some perseverance, but I didn’t. I never played baseball again.
But that feeling—that feeling of failure and inadequacy, of sensing I didn’t belong, of not feeling worthy—stayed with me for a long time.
In high school, I found running. I found history and writing and school. I didn’t naturally excel at any of these things, but after knowing failure at so many other activities (baseball was just one of many!), I stuck with a few and learned to be good enough.
But being good enough didn’t make me happy. I wanted to truly excel at something. A career, a hobby…something. I felt my worth, my existence even, depended on my ability to do so.
In college, I changed my major. Then, a short time later, I dropped out altogether. I got a job, married my high school sweetheart, and became a mother. Finally! Something I could really do well. Or so I thought.
It wasn’t long before I realized that excelling at parenting was no easy task, either. Most days I felt I failed.
Yet it was in this time, where I felt ultimate failure at the most important task yet given to me, that Jesus found me. He scooped me up, told me he understood how I felt, that yes—perhaps I wasn’t super-gifted at much, but that wasn’t what mattered the most.
What mattered the most was I was his, and he had already accomplished perfection for me.
With this truth over and behind me, for the first time ever I glimpsed it. Freedom. Real freedom.
I didn’t have to be great at anything for my life to have a purpose. My life had purpose because of WHO I belonged to.
Something like chains fell off me, then. I began writing with a renewed passion, a renewed mission. I began living beneath grace instead of performance. And when those rejections and bad contests scores came, shouting failure, something prodded me to continue, to persevere and ignore the voices in my head tempting me to feel like that timid little girl in Little League.
The journey was eleven years long, and not always pretty. But one thing had changed—I knew, whether I failed or accomplished my goal of publication, my worth was secure.
I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t inadequate. I belonged.
No matter what.
I was His.
The fact that I signed a contract with my dream publishing house eighteen months ago is all, one-hundred percent God’s grace. That’s what makes it so very amazing. Because in many ways, I’m still that little girl determined to prove myself against the voices ready to ridicule in the dugout, but now, beneath the covering of my true identity in Jesus, none of it matters.
Because whether I succeed or fail, whether I swing the bat or take a walk to first or strike out…I am His.
May you and your family have a beautiful, blessed, Thanksgiving!