Overby, Parker

img_4213So like any other, I am totally debating whether to click the ‘X’ in the top right hand corner. Sharing is harder than it seems, but here is the TRUE story of how I came to Jesus and why in the world I love this Christ.

I grew up in a Christian home, bla, blah, blah. You’ve heard that story before. With my father being a pastor, I learned the solid foundations of faith and that living like the Lord was above all else. My family is my number one supporter, showering me with love, compassion and good, good coffee. My dad used to let me dance around the kitchen on his toes; he’s always encouraged me to be a dream chaser. My mother is the strongest, most beautiful woman I will ever meet, teaching me to be kind and sincere, while never letting people step all over me. I can only hope to be a wife and mom like her someday. My siblings are crazy, fun, spunky, sarcastic, weird, and strange. What a solid influence!

Baptized at age seven, I danced through the flowers, knowing Jesus thought the world of me. Wearing my Cinderella plastic slippers, I always delighted in thinking I was God’s princess.

I was 10 in my fifth grade year, all bright-eyed and in love with super hero movies and science experiments involving colors. I went to Haiti where I saw people older than I swept up in God’s love and, oh man, did I love that! The thought of doing something wrong was meaningless compared to the love of Christ, which had me all sorts of satisfied. Haiti helped shape me, playing a role in why I am the way I am — in love with life.

But slowly, God just became routine.
The beautiful mystery of Christ faded.

I still wonder why. In part, I wasn’t putting enough into my relationship with Him to get anything out. My judgment became blurred, and somehow, someway I grew distant—becoming infatuated with a boy. Some would say we were “just friends.” But for five years, we had nothing short of an unhealthy soap opera relationship. I let this guy’s opinions put a damper on my relationship with God. Instead of pursuing Christ, I looked to the boy and his opinions of me. I let him, another person who read words left to right just as I did, completely flip my world upside down.

Between feeling helpless and hopelessly confused, I gave up.
I took that moral compass formed by the beautiful truths of the Bible and threw it overboard.
Imagine me, on a ship, hair in the wind, salt on my lips, chucking a literal compass into the depths of emerald green. I didn’t see the importance of my God anymore. I was about to step off into big kid world and I fell down. Hard.

Later on, I made an awful decision.
I let that boy define when I felt . . . Beautiful. Important. Wanted. I lost my identity in Christ.
All the while, I was faking that I had found those things in Jesus.
We got caught. (Best thing that has ever happened to me.)

Because of my wrong decision I wasn’t liked. Called things I didn’t enjoy and constantly felt talked about. Exiled, especially at youth group. So I withdrew. Forcing myself to show my face, but escaping as soon as possible. Bitter towards others and God, I was embarrassed and shame-filled.

That was inside.
On the outside I projected the perfect little pastor’s daughter.
Wearing the mask, I was exhausted.
I had let other people’s opinions and even my own twisted opinion of myself wreck my life.
My insecurity had me in a prison of fear. Pride, turmoil, and discomfort–deeply rooted heart issues, began to break through my fake exterior. But I learned to adjust for a while. It’s like when your baby blues meet the bright sun and for a second, it’s fairly painful to feel the sun burn your eyes. Then you adjust. And you’re okay.

Eventually, some real friends squinted their eyes and saw through the dirty glasses I had put between my reality and the rest of the world. And then came camp this summer.

My Fake Christianity couldn’t resist God’s Truth. All this time of bitterness and hurting, I hadn’t thought much about my relationship with Christ. Suddenly I saw that I had become a checkbox Christian. None of what I was doing came out of the goodness of Jesus, rather selfish ambition.

When my days were full of sunshine, lake hair, and hard pressing Bible courses at camp, I walked away with one important thing:
The simple gospel truths were restored in my life.
I realized again how amazing Jesus’ love really is. With new eyes I saw the sacrifice He had made for ME. I rediscovered why I wanted to live like Christ.

Those next few weeks were spent furiously studying God’s Word and renewing my love and ambition for the one and only Lord Jesus. I wore down my highlighters and my hand cramped daily as I drowned my soul in the overwhelming, benevolent forgiveness of Him. Amazingly, people noticed a difference. I noticed a difference. Jesus changed me.

But I still had some unfinished business.
I needed to reclaim and live out my identity in Christ.
God went before me preparing one of the most rewarding life experiences as I headed to Thailand for two weeks on mission. I have been the girl to hide behind herself for fear that people would see the disgusting sin in my life. Even though it was years ago, I still felt unclean.

In Thailand I experienced supernatural love and rediscovered my true beauty.
Beauty has always been important to me. I have one of those dads who tells me that I look ravishing when I have a chocolate milk stain on my PJ shirt, and– let’s be real, even when I haven’t found the time to shower in a while.
Nonetheless, I find myself checking the mirror too many times.
As I poured out my heart in sharing my story across Thailand, girls told me how beautiful I was. They assumed because of the color of my complexion, that I would always feel like the queen of the world.
Why was it so easy for me to tell these girls how beautiful they were, but I wouldn’t dare to say it to myself?
By calling myself hurtful things, I am indirectly disrespecting the work of God.
I am unique.
We can be generous and humble and accepting and funny and talented and understanding and secure and intelligent and witty and quirky and kind and confident and all of those things MAKE US BEAUTIFUL.
Finding that love and affirmation in Christ is vital! We should let His love wash over us, every time our eyelids flutter open!

Do I consistently claim my identity in Christ? No, but you know what? God picks me up.
I can’t do anything to make Him love me more, and I can’t do anything to make Him love me less.
I am secure, valued, and worth every second of His time and pursuit.

God accepts us with our seemingly fatal flaws that are ugly old sins.
You are not too big of a mess.
No one is too far-gone.
He forgives.
He wraps us in adoration.
He chases after us—FEARLESSLY.
I am a princess of God.
I am His beautiful daughter.
And if that’s not motivation enough to live like Jesus, I don’t know what is.

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Brown, Brie

Brown, Brie

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