Kelly's initial thought in response to the counselor's question was, What does that have to do with anything? Why dredge up the past? What does my childhood have to do with my feeling empty and insecure as an adult?
But out of respect for the process she answered. "Well, after I was born I spent six weeks in the hospital."
The counselor asked, "Where there problems? We're you born prematurely?"
"No," Kelly responded matter-of-factly. "My parents didn't come to get me."
Kelly went on to confide how her mother didn't want a baby and her father didn't want a girl. In fact, her father split from her mother soon after Kelly was born. Throughout her childhood, Kelly's mother didn't miss many opportunities to blame her daughter for ruining not just her marriage, but her life.
Kelly eventually got out from under her mother's roof. But she never got out from under the cloud of shame formed by years of put-downs and accusations. The pervasive feeling that she had no real value was taking a toll on her relationships with friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Any romantic inclinations she had were quickly dismissed. It's one thing to feel unloved. It's quite another to feel unlovable.
Over the next several months, with the nurturing guidance of her counselor, Kelly was able to connect the dots between past and present. She finally identified the bitter root of her feelings of emptiness and insecurity. She came to understand that within her 38-year-old body remained an anxious little girl who was desperate to feel safe, to experience love, to know that she mattered.
But the apex of Kelly's journey toward recovery was not reached while sitting in a sterile chair the counselor's earth-toned office during one of her weekly appointments. She found the hope and healing she craved in a wooden pew in the back of a candle-lit sanctuary on a Christmas Eve.
Kelly's quest for lasting change in her life led her to give church another try. She had gone several times through the years, seeking from God the same things she wanted from her parents--to know that she was valued and loved. But, as she experienced with her parents, she continued to come away empty.
But something made this particular church visit different. Now her heart was in a condition to receive love.
The pastor gave a simple message that evening. He shared how since the beginning of time our Heavenly Father's primary desire has been to be with His children. But sin created a distance between us and God. So our Heavenly Father sent His Son into the world to bridge the gap; to restore us to right relationship with Him.
Then the pastor uttered four words that spoke to the longing hearts of both Kelly and the little girl within her: He came for you.
Kelly's face soon reflected the glow of the candles as tears streamed down her cheeks; her heart felt a warmth she had never before experienced as she balmed herself over and over again with the revelation: He came for me! He came for me!
Those four words have the power to bring hope and healing to every wounded soul. They promise to fill our empty hearts and melt away our insecurities; they calm our fears; they help us to both give and receive the love we all need.
But what's more, those four words prove our worth. He came for us. Why? Because we matter to Him.