Blog by Amber LaBarbera
I never quite knew how to answer the other kids’ questions at school about my mom and dad until I got a little older, and even then, I wished they would just stop asking. I was the shy girl. Whenever recess came along, everyone would rush outside to play, but I preferred the reading corner, where I would see if there were any new books to get lost in. This was not because I actually enjoyed all the books, but rather because I wanted to be alone. This way, I would be safe and uninterrupted, away from everyone else I felt like I didn’t belong with. I allowed insecurity and fear to have a strong grip on me without even realizing it.
At the time I was born, my parents were not anticipating having a baby, and were not able to raise me. I was adopted by my grandparents as an infant, getting to see my dad once every couple of years and my mom when she was in jail or drug rehab. We didn’t have as much money as everyone else, and I was far from popular. I did find fulfillment in being a good kid and getting straight A’s in school, but even at a young age, I felt something was missing.
Thankfully, my grandparents had us start attending church every Sunday, where I came into a personal relationship with Jesus. I began to realize that my circumstances didn’t have to define me. My church became like my second family, with friends and leaders around me that wouldn’t let me walk things out on my own. I even started a Bible study, talking to others in my school cafeteria about Jesus, because I knew that they needed the missing piece that I’d finally found!
When I was sixteen, my grandparents separated, which shocked and hurt me, because they were the one source of consistency in my family. One day during this time, I opened my Bible to Psalm 139, which changed my life. This passage talks about how God knit me together in my mother’s womb, knew me before I was even born, has always been with me, and always will be with me. I memorized this scripture and it became a weapon that I spoke out loud every time I felt discouraged or insecure.
A couple years later, my mom, after coming out of a long battle with drug addiction, told me that she tried to abort me because she was afraid and didn’t know any better. She said that she went to the clinic and actually got the procedure done, but when the nurse checked the ultrasound, I was still there, and no one could explain how it happened. After that, she couldn’t go through with the abortion. It was nothing short of a miracle! When she told me this, I was instantly reminded of Psalm 139. I felt so grateful to God for putting me here on this earth. I had never been more aware that He’s always been with me and always will be, and that He has a purpose for my life.
Just as strategically and purposefully as God created me, I know He does the same for every single individual on this earth. He makes them exactly the way they were meant to be and has a purpose and plan for every life. We are created to be in an intimate relationship with God, our loving father, and to allow His love to touch others around us.
The truth is, life still happens. Insecurities and discouragement try to find a way to creep back in, and sometimes I do have to come face to face with my insecure younger self. Because of my testimony, and the fact that God is on my side, here’s what I am able to say to my younger, insecure self…
“You are a beloved daughter of the most powerful king, who also happened to create the entire universe and thinks about how awesome you are every moment of every day. If you didn’t know, let me remind you that this makes you royalty. Never let anyone or anything tell you that you don’t belong or that you aren’t good enough. Dream big, and don’t forget to let others know how much they are loved, too.”