“You’re so weird!” My classmate blurted at me.

Her friend shushed her. “You’re so mean.”  The words didn’t stop my classmate from giggling.

I stood before them with a plastic smile on my face. Play it cool, I told myself. My steps shuffled away from their snickers and grins.

Yeah. Act cool. Like you’re totally unaffected. At all.

Nobody noticed my clammy hands nor the heat rising to my face. I didn’t have eyes on the back of my head, but I swore the row of girls stared at me like I was an alien. A strange kid.

A weirdo.

So, this is what humiliation feels like.

I believed there were two kinds of people in the hallways of school. One was the type who didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. The other was the one who did. Guess who felt like she was in the second category?

Okay, perhaps I was over-exaggerating my annoyance, but I was seriously out of place. I got myself into an incredibly smart institution with incredibly smart students coming from varied walks of life. They possessed unique traits, amazing talents, intimidating intelligence, and diverse worldviews. Plus, they all spoke the mother tongue well.  Not that it was a big deal for the majority, but for the minority like me, it was a shameful challenge to my social skills.

I walked in the school as the English speaking weirdo, hailing from the south of Manila with a tenacity for conservative views and geeky interests. I was so different. Lo and behold, I ran smack into the turbulence of teenage insecurities.

Being called a weirdo wasn’t helping.

“How do you see me, Father?” I prayed, spilling my feelings to Him like I had just flipped my own gut. Going to Him was a strategy to thwart bitterness from taking root. I needed the truth about my identity because I was already bitter about it.

In a moment, He showed me a story.

There was a princess who was young and loved and prized. Her fluffy pink gown swayed around her legs, elegant and soft, like bejeweled clouds. A golden tiara glinted on her small head, gracing her features. Glitters and white frills decorated her clothes. She was adorned in expensive royal apparel, which did not fall short of gold’s worth.

And she played in the mud.

Yes, the mud.

The brown muck stained the hem of her pristine dress. A second later, she sat in the pitiful mire, shoving hands and fingers into the dirt, like it was a pool–her sad playground. She didn’t seem to enjoy it as she observed the pieces of slush drip down her arm. This was self-pity. This was madness.

Absolute madness.

What are you doing there? You’re getting your princess gown stained.

And then it hit me. What am I doing here?

I was the princess playing in the mud.

Extravagant love decked me out in glory befitting royalty. The Most High King adopted me as His daughter, cherishing me like that princess. He took my filthy slave’s clothes, gifting me with a royal gown. Surely, He bestowed much worth on me.  But that beautiful gown was not free. To be called His daughter—to have the right to be called so—came at a high price.

The cross was the cost, and my identity as His beloved child was the prize.

But there I was, entertaining other people’s words and believing my own doubts about myself instead of listening to Him. There I was, playing in the mud.

The mud was the insult of being called “weird.” And I, as the princess, willingly believed my classmates and allowed myself to be defined by their viewpoint. I willingly chose the mud and forgot about my own worth despite being adorned by God’s love.

The perspective shifted, like a balance scale tipping over.

Suddenly, being called a “weirdo” did not hurt anymore. Despite my classmate’s labels, I was still worth more in God’s eyes. Mortal words could have no value compared to the Most High King’s decree regarding my worth. Even my own perspective of myself fell short of His authority.

It felt as if the Holy Spirit was lecturing me in a loving way:

No mere mortal could define your worth. So what if they call you weird? Why should it matter? Even you have to stop dictating your worth. You’re too precious to play in the mud. You’re too precious to step down and linger around others’ lowly perspective of you. Stop pitying yourself. Stop entertaining others’ words about you. If real princesses had the dignity never to dip their noses into mud, what more a child of God? Shrug off the lies because they hold no ground in defining who you are. As My child, you should see that it is not worth it to entertain mere mud.

I am the Only One who defines your worth. And you are always worth more to Me.

Fast forward to three years later. I graduate with honors from that school with nobody calling me a weirdo to my face ever again—all by God’s amazing grace.

This is how God redeems people from their embarrassing weaknesses. This is how He makes our identity glint in gold, despite the odds, despite the world’s perspective.

His view of us is always better.

Princesses don’t have the time to play in the mud when they’ve already got a King clothing them in royal garments. A child of God has no time to entertain the world’s thoughts about them, when they’ve already got the perfect Father declaring their eternal and glorious worth.

Isaiah 61:10 

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

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