My parents recently gave me a box of old pictures from storage. Inside, a familiar face stared back—mine, morphing from sixth to twelfth grade. I looked happy enough, but the sudden flood of memories contained plenty of awkwardness, drama, and seemingly innocuous identity wounds that left lasting scars.
Tucked between pictures was a collection of crisply-folded notes; the 90s precursor to texting. I wryly unfolded one, then froze: it was my first boyfriend’s writing, and I squirmed as his words jumped off the page, "I’m so lucky to be going out with you. You’re smart, pretty, athletic . . . the whole package." My grown-up face flushed; immediately I dismissed his sentiments as tween desperation. I had clearly been an ugly duckling; I was as convinced of that now as I was back then.
But later in prayer, I sensed Jesus crushing decades of lies about my identity with a single question: So . . . what makes you think he was wrong?
I imagine a similar tone as Christ challenged the woman in today’s Gospel, calling out all the lies the world had concocted about her worth. She was a Gentile, an outsider to the Jewish covenant, seeking to break through a seemingly impenetrable cultural barrier. A woman who, like the rest of us, was nothing without the Lord.
But in her startling humility and immense faith, she not only accepted this reality, but in bold trust threw herself into Christ’s mercy and refining love. In response, His consoled heart delightedly poured out healing upon her.
Jesus knows. He knows how apt we are to deflect God’s love—and by extension, His mission for us. Continually we reject Him in favor of lies that bind us to wounded pride and self-deprecation.
I have the wrong background.
I’m nothing special.
My failings are greater than Your mercy.
But He died to refute every lie. He chose us, created us intentionally for His work and Kingdom. He makes us worthy. He continually offers us affirmation, an invitation to repentance, awe-inspiring healing. And He challenges us through one woman’s heroic humility to look beyond the world’s lies to the truth of who He made us to be.
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Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She is the Stories Manager for the Blessed is She Instagram account. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.