Hayden is a high school senior at First Covenant Church.  Below is an excerpt from a message she gave during a Sunday morning service in 2019.

When I was in sixth grade, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a genetic auto-immune disease that prevents ones pancreas from being able to properly produce insulin. God graced my life with a family able to provide for me physically, emotionally, and financially, and friends that I could lean on. God allowed me to transition from non-diabetic, to diabetic, with ease. Over time, however, my perspective of myself changed, drastically. Subconsciously, my diagnosis created an overbearing, yet subliminal sentiment of self-hatred. I could not look beyond what I believed to be flaws in my physicality. Despite God’s providence, of beautiful, caring, intentional people in my life, I refused to see my own self worth. I began to eat minimally, exercise excessively, and spend way too much time critiquing myself in the mirror.

In the thick of it, in the middle of one of my MANY vegan phases, I went to CHIC [Covenant High Schoolers in Christ youth conference]. At CHIC, I physically felt God call to me, I heard, and I mean heard his profound declaration of my worth and my intrinsic beauty. I felt it, in every ounce of my being, I knew, at my very core, that He was there, and that I was loved.

This feeling of value, lasted for a few weeks, and then I, like Gomer, relapsed. Slowly, but surely, as school started up again, I felt the revived sense of worthlessness. I was routinely in a place where much of people’s societal value, was defined by their physical beauty, and I inundated myself with that ideology. I began to diet again; I spiraled. A few months later, I went on Kairos, a religious retreat hosted by my school, focused on reconciliation and healing, once again, reminded in abundance that I was worthy in God’s eyes.   But also once again, it was a fleeting sentiment.

Time after time, God sent me messages of my own value through friends, and pastors, and retreats, and direct communication from His voice, HIMSELF, but somehow I always receded. I hated myself. Momentarily and on the surface, I would accept His extension of love and avail, but I intrinsically I did not value myself and could not believe that I was valued in His eyes, because I really didn’t think I deserved it. Crazy to think, that the entirety of that notion was rooted in thinking that I was not beautiful.

I can say with verity, that now, in this moment, I am finally okay with myself. I am not, by any means healed, completely, but I finally understand that my self worth is rooted in the nature of my heart, and is defined by the grace of God, not anyone, or anything else and I recognize that in all of my sadness and feelings of abandonment, He’s been at my side. Whether or not I was ready to RECEIVE His benediction, He has provided me with the space for that reception and transition for when the time came, and He taught me the difference between transitory happiness, and unshakable joy.

On the flip side of things, God also uses His children as funnels of his love, and as ways to communicate His love to those whose lines are currently closed off to Him. Maybe God is using you right now, like a Hosea, maybe your purpose in this moment is to help bring someone back to God, whether or not they are ready to receive his providence, you are miraculously capable of equipping them with the awareness that He will accept them without acceptation or expiration. The reminder of this knowledge will help them to their own salvation when the time is right for their respective story.