Sought After

Sought After

“You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. (Isaiah 62:3-4).

 


High school and I were an awkward fit. In fact, I hated most every minute of the three years that I spent walking its hallways and trying my best to make sense of the nonsense. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t stunning. I wasn’t a cheerleader. I wasn’t asked out on dates. In fact, to me it seemed as if I wasn’t much of anything, except…

forgotten … deserted.

The friends of my younger days had long since traded me in for a newer model, and my teachers? Well, there were a few who noticed my worth, but a majority of them never even knew my name. Thus, it was no surprise to me that when I graduated a year early, it came and went with little fanfare.

For me, my high school years were a detrimental season of living—shaping years that, unfortunately, left my already fragile self-esteem in further ruin. Accordingly, I couldn’t wait to break free.

Starting college at seventeen was a good decision. I chose to attend a school in my hometown, and from the moment that my feet hit the campus of Asbury College, I knew that my heart had finally found its home.

College was the fertile soil of my becoming—of my beginning to break free from the chains that had followed me down those painful hallways of high school. I fit, and for the first time in my life, I began to see myself as someone more than the scared little girl who had always felt deserted.

I had friends and dates and professors who, not only called me by name, but who also came to expect my leadership in the classroom. After a first semester of academic adjustment, my grades soared toward excellence and landed me with honors by the time graduation rolled around. In addition to my cherished diploma, I had an engagement ring on my finger.

I was on my way to becoming a preacher’s wife and an elementary school teacher in short order. No more painful high school hallways for me. Being deserted was no longer my issue … at least not for a season. But as all issues go, unless dealt with by the illuminating and healing presence of God’s love, they tend to resurface at unsuspecting times.

Mine would reappear on occasion and became more frequent as my marriage began to unravel. After seven years of being a wife and a mother to two young sons, my feelings of worthlessness barked their insistence over my soul, and I found myself, once again, returning to the familiar hallways of my adolescence.

It would take a long season of painful recollection and deliberate intention to free me from my feelings of being forgotten. Thankfully at age forty-two, I’m finally getting close.

(ages 17, 21, 42)
God in his mercy and through his far-reaching love has kept me on the path of recovery and rediscovery. My identity is no longer shaped by the hallways of my youth or by the divorce that forced me to grapple with my worthiness as it pertains to God and his kingdom agenda. Today I walk in the grace that was mandated for me long before my sin required its covering.

Accordingly, I know longer feel deserted; my Father and the cross of his Son made sure of that.

“The LORD has made a proclamation to the ends of the earth; ‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.”’ They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.” (Isaiah 62:11-12).

Today, I walk in the freedom of a new name. Many still know me as elaine. But my Father? Well, he knows me by a few others.

*Sought After.
*City No Longer Deserted.
*Hephzibah
meaning “my delight.”
*Beulah meaning “married.”

Not a bad trade for the deserted and desolate of my youth?

I don’t know how this strikes you today. I’m not even quite sure as to the reason for the penning of my words. But I have a thought that, perhaps, there is someone out there who needs the truth of a new name this night. Maybe the hallways of your adolescence … maybe even those of your most recent … are plaguing your thoughts with feelings of being forgotten, unloved and unnecessary. I understand.

I’m not so far along in my faith journey that I don’t occasionally revisit those names. The enemy would like nothing more than to keep us trapped in the lie of such an identification. But the truth is…

Our Jesus didn’t go all the way to hell and back to leave us as we are. Instead, He made the journey in order to bring us home as his bride. We are the sought after delight of our God. Never forgotten. Never deserted. Never unloved and never unnecessary. And that, sweet friends, has always been and will continue to be the most sacred and deliberate intention of our Father’s heart—

to be the Lover of ours.

Won’t you allow him his turn to bathe you in the truth of what you’ve always meant to him? He is so worthy of your pause. Mine, too. Thus I pray…

Show me, Father, your love. Teach me what it means to be your bride … your delight … your sought after and prized possession. My youthful shapings and my adult rebellions have kept me from knowing the full depth of my identity in You. Replace the sting of feeling deserted with the truth of your deliberate pursuit of my heart. Thank you for holding onto my fragile estate all of these years and for continuing to remind me of my sacred worth in You. And when I am tempted to revisit those hallways of my long ago and faraway, turn my thoughts toward my “soon to be” and my “ever so close.” I love you, Father. Thank you for taking me as your bride. Amen.

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37 Responses to Sought After

  1. The reason you wrote that…is because I think it’s great! I was blown away by that scripture a few weeks ago. 🙂 It’s one of my favorites now! And if you had known me two years ago, it would make even more sense to you why this entry means so much to me–especially the part about identity. 🙂 Thank you so much for posting this!!

  2. I attended three different high schools in three different town and had three very different experiences; one, not great, the second really great, and the third just marking time until I was officially done and could get on with things. I definitely felt annonymous, especially at the last when I was there for only 6 months and most of my classmates had been together since early childhood.

    I think many of us live only a few steps away from those hallways; the important thing is to direct our steps to our loving, accepting Father who has always seen us for what He created us to be. And it’s nice to have a place to call “home” no matter where we live or where we leave.

  3. Why is the words we hear in our earlier days still resonate in our being even when we know the Truth? Your words echo deeply in my heart.

    Blessings,
    Denise

    PS: I am a RN coordinator. My early hours are mainly to accomodate some quiet time, 2 cups of java and the horrendous metro traffic. :O)

  4. So many of us struggle or have struggled with the same kinds of issues from our early years. Thanks be to the One who makes us complete that we don’t have to stay that way!!

    Leah

  5. You are speaking to me this morning my friend!! I have been struggling lately with the concept of God using someone so unworthy and having done so many ugly things in my past. God must be trying to tell me something, because most of my devotions and my Beth Moore study is speaking exactly on this subject!

    Thank you for reminding me once again that I am a beloved jewel of Christ. Even though at times, I don’t always sparkle as I should, I know that I am loved and cherished by the best “jewel polisher” of them all!

    Thanks again, and love ya!!

  6. My own high school passage was blighted for a different reason. My beloved father had been diagnosed with leukemia while I was a Freshman, and for the next 18 months his slide was a daily hurt and a grim reminder that my life was not all that fun. I cried often, and the beginnings of a season of fear – anxiety attacks – came as if a flood. They would come-and-go long after his death, and remain until I was in my mid-forties. Even with the Lord, seems my sense of Fatherly protection had been severely damaged.

    I am grateful for those anxiety attacks now that they’re gone. They often lead me deeper, closer and completely into the arms of The Father. Here’s the acronym I used and repeated whenever they struck: S.T.R.E.S.S. “Seeking Thee, Righteous, Eternal, Soother of Souls”. It worked. He worked.

    I loved the pictures! You have not changed a smidge. Too cute!

    Kathleen

  7. I have some hallway scars, too. But to think of myself as “sought after” is a wonderful thing.
    He cherishes us. We are God’s treasure. And when we embrace who we are in Him – that stuff from our previous days just doesn’t matter.
    Thank you for sharing your heart through these thoughts. I am always blessed when I visit your place.

  8. Life’s journey…where we have been and where we are now. It’s the now, the present tense,that we have to keep focused on. I was writing my “ABC’s Of the Word” I post on Thursday prior to coming here this morning. Reflecting on a verse for that post, immediately the word “beloved” came to mind and the very first verse in my word search is one of my all time favorites so I give it to you and pray it will bless you in your thoughts from this blog and the busyness of this past few weeks…

    Deuteronomy 33:12
    About [Elaine] He said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.”

    In His Graces~Pamela

  9. I love this post!
    I have had self- esteem issues for as long as I can remember…..and at age 35 am STILL working through them…..thanks Elaine!

  10. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I imagine there are many, many women who can relate to this.

    You are an amazing woman of God and I am so glad I found your blog!

    In Him,
    Beth

  11. Once again, thank you, Elaine.
    You know that I needed to hear these words today.
    You are a blessing to me.
    In Christ,
    Amy:)

  12. We constantly need reminding, Elaine. There is so much power in a person’s testimony, and that is why you penned this. Powerful, powerful.

    You know, if you really think about it, we are all unworthy, but it is Christ in us that makes us significant. When we truly grasp that, as you have now, those old hallways will get less and less familiar in our minds.

  13. wifeforthejourney:

    I am, and will always remain, so proud to be your husband. Thank you for being willing to tell your story and share your heart with the world. I still find it hard to believe that you were not the center of the social universe while you were growing up, but I am so glad to have you in my life today!

    Thank you for all that you say and do, and give.

    Love,
    Billy

  14. 1st of all… that Billy…. He's one awesome husband…. I'd say he's a keeper.

    2nd, I'm in agreement with your words & prayer.

    Finally, Father God, thank You for giving Elaine these words to share with the world. I pray Father that I stay focused on You and be more holy, like Christ. In Jesus' name, amen.

    I love you Elaine!

  15. It still takes my breath to realize this: He pursues me. There were many times in my younger years when I felt forgotten, as well, Elaine. This growing thing is tough and I am a slow learner. It’s always the hard way for me.

    You bless me through this sharing, friend. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  16. Elaine, I have been fighting names of “lonliness” and “much afraid” all the while knowing that only the deceiver has written those words across my heart right now.

    Thank you for reminding me today of my relentless Pursuer. I’ll stop and let Him embrace me and remind me who He is and who I am in Him.

    Love ya,
    Joy

  17. Embracing who we are in Christ is often confused by the judgements of the world. It is sad that we often see Christ less then what He truly is. I loved this today. Thanks.

  18. I had a similar high school experience in that most of the kids ignored me and no one ever asked me for a date…..however, I did like school and I think the reason was that my teachers all liked me. Still, I felt very insecure and insignificant within the halls of that institution. It was only after I got out into the “real world” that I felt more like a person instead of a name on the roll. And although I grew up in a Christian home and was in church at least 3 times a week, I never really trusted Jesus to save me until I was 25 years old. He is what really made a difference in my life.

    Thanks for sharing some of your life with us. And the photos! You were then and still are beautiful.

    God bless you!
    Marilyn

  19. This so resonated with me. I felt the same way in high school, and have struggled with self-esteem as well. Seeing ourselves as His is so crucial. Thank you.

  20. Another fabulous post. Your writing is outstanding, as you use personal experience to allow the profound truth of GOd’s Word to resinate in the soul of your reader. Thank you for your committment to study HIs Word and share your story.

    Thank you for your kind words about my BIble studies. THe entire study of Esther and Elijah are still archived on Bellevue’s site and the study of Philippians airs live on THrusdays at 10:45 CT if you are interested. Please contact my asst., Renae Terrell, at renaeterrell@yahoo.com and she will be happy to answer any questions. I am very guarded against “self-promotion” and am trying to always honor the Lord without “exalting self.” Therefore, Renae can more easily help you review the materials, etc.

    I do hope you would know that my offer to help you has absolutely no bearing on whether you end up using my studies or not. As I said, I am on guard against the aggravating flesh that would love to riseup and overtake me. Having said that (and you probably already knew this but I felt compelled to say it) I would be more than happy to share about my publishing expereience with you. I have published 6 Bible studies since 2006 and while I am still learning much about the industry, I do have some insight and I would be more than happy to speak to my self-publisher on your behalf-should the Lord lead you in that direction. Here is my email. It might be easier to connect through it rather than the blog. Write me at jean@standingnearthecross.com and put ELAINE-BLOGGER in the reference. I look forward to watching what God is doing in your life. Keep me posted. Blessings.

  21. Beautiful stuff! And I can certainly relate. I was the girl that never even had a moment’s thought about whether or not I’d be asked to a dance. Nobody even asked me if I was going to one. Of course I wasn’t. Nobody invited me home to visit. I didn’t invite anybody over to my place, either. (Hmmm…maybe there’s a connection there…?)

    One of the most beautiful things about finally coming to know the Lord has been discovering my Christian brothers and sisters (especially the latter!) I don’t know what I’d do without them now!

    Thanks for sharing this.

  22. Oh how much I hated that place and it’s experiences. Even the memories of it make me shiver. I was so locked away in an inward prison and satan had a hayday with it for so long. It’s so funny today I have people sending friend request on facebook that I thought didn’t even know my name in high school.

  23. Elaine, I enjoyed the further glimpse into your life and what made you the woman you are today. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I am the wrong one to ask about grabbing the button, but I think the computer language is embedded in the button and all you have to do is copy and paste. If this does not work, we will ask the blogosphere for help. Thanks for asking for it. Blessings.

  25. Hey Mrs. Elaine,

    I was touched by your post:) Praise the Lord that you are being healed of any feelings of desertion or unvaluableness. He chose you to be His own-what a blessed thought! His love for you is MUCH for lack of a better word! Rom. 8 has been lifechanging for me regarding God’s love for me…I loved seeing the pics of you at diff. ages, that’s fun:) Hope you have a blessed day, my Sister in CHRIST,

    katiegfromtennessee

  26. High School survivors. It could be an entirely different sort of reality tv show. Especially for those of us who were raised in highly religious homes. Would I trade my upbringing? Absolutely not. But the slant on the world was definitely different!

  27. I am always so touched by your posts and your willingness to open your heart to share the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of your journey (and the peace that you find in the process.

    Thank you!
    Love,
    Beth
    P.S. I am letting a relative of mine know about your blog, especially this post.

  28. I was tempted not to comment because I’m not for sure I have the word to describe how I’m feeling. Then I saw you have 30+ comments already and thought, she doesn’t need mine. But, alas, here I am telling you how blessed I am for God’s words through your pen. Wow and Amen!

  29. Oh, Elaine… how my heart leapt within my chest as I read the names that your Father knows you by… What Joy! What Joy! How He loves us so!

  30. Elaine I was out of commission for several days (until yesterday) sick. I have truly missed visiting with you.

    This is a great message. I love the photos and boy you hit on some points that I can relate to big time!

    Thank God for changing our names, our hearts and our lives to line up with what He says, who He calls us and how He loves us.

    Awww, wonderful! Praise the Lord.

  31. Here’s another name for you, dear Elaine, “His treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6; see also 14:2, 26:18; Exodus 19:5; Psalm 135:4).

    (I know those Scriptures are about Israel, but I think they apply to you, too!) 🙂

  32. Elaine, here is the other Scripture that I wanted to give you about being the Lord’s “treasured possession”:

    “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name. ‘They will be mine,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.’ “ (Malachi 3:16-18) 😀

  33. Hi Elaine, thank you for visiting my blog today.

    The journey that you and I are on may differ on most of the specifics, but the theme remains the same. Mine has also been a difficult and painful journey of believing an ugly lie about my true identity. And God used the same passage that you quoted to speak the truth to me.

    In addition to the new names that God bestowed on you, He has also called me Crown of Beauty.

    When you find the time, I invite you to visit my blog again and read the very first post I did for my blog. You can scroll down the sidebar and find “What’s In A Name” under my previous posts.

    There you will see how our paths become parallel on some points.

    I truly feel that my life is enriched because God allowed us to “meet.” I read all the comments you received for this particular post, and one really struck my heart, the one given by your husband for the journey, Billy.

    In some ways he reminds me of my own husband, who believed in me, who rooted for me, who loved me with an unconditional love.

    I thank God for you, Elaine.