“She’s fat!”

“She’s so quiet!”

“No one will ever like her …”

Whispers filled the car while the young girl glanced out the window with tears filling her eyes, pretending she didn’t hear a word spoken by her “friends”. She looked down at her rolls of fats, wondering what she had done to deserve these remarks.

Fast forward to Sunday.

She was dropped off at Sunday School by her mother. At the tender age of 8 years old, she was a pianist with a heart to serve God. Yet, she sat alone, away from the rest of the girls in her level, because she was an outcast.

This girl was always left alone, without a partner until the teacher assigned her one for the Church’s Christmas performance. Finally, she had a friend – one who’d become her best friend! They hung out, slept over at each other’s house and texted each other every day.

However, her best friend soon left her for another Church and she was back to square one.

The girl fell back into loneliness, into the hurt that was buried deep in her heart as she contemplated how she simply was not good enough for the standards of this world.

That girl was me.

Needless to say, I carried with me the wounds of many hurtful words and actions as I grew up. These words may have been uttered mindlessly, but they remained forged in my memory.

I always felt insecure and fat, and I couldn’t grasp the fact that I was beautifully created in God’s image. I mean, did God make me fat because He was fat? It didn’t make sense.

I left Church in Secondary One because of my insecurities. I hated the Church, I hated the people there and most importantly, I hated myself and the way I looked.

However, God relentlessly pursued me.

He constantly provided me with friends who would draw me back to Church, who often told me stories of this amazing Heavenly Father. They piqued my curiosity to search for this Heavenly Father that they tenderly and lovingly talked about.

Step by step, I opened the Bible, journalled down my prayers as letters to God, and – in a courageous step of trust – ultimately went back to Church.

I clearly remember the last night of youth camp in December 2013. It was the night I finally encountered how perfect and extraordinary a Father’s love can be for His beloved daughter.

I had gone up for the altar call, and the person praying for me affirmed me on my worth through Psalm 139:13-16: “For You formed my inwards parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … In Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

At that moment, I was in awe that God held my entire life in His hands! Through the endless nights of crying myself to sleep about my insecurities and wishing that I could be made better or like someone else.

It’s unexplainable but for once, I felt secure. I felt safe, knowing that I was caught up in the arms of my Daddy God.

In that moment of brokenness, I realised that He was always with me through every single moment, through every insult and all the loneliness I felt. He had never forsaken nor abandoned me.

So overwhelmed, I just cried and cried and cried. Endless tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt wholeheartedly embraced by a Father who dearly loves me. How great is His love for me! How wide and how deep it truly is!

It’s unexplainable but for once, I felt secure. I felt safe, knowing that I was caught up in the arms of my Daddy God. No insult could damage or have any hold on me anymore. This is the identity He’s given me: Daughter of the Most High.

Since embarking on this healing journey with God, I’ve still faced continual ups and downs with regards to my body-image. But the way I’ve responded to these trials has changed.

After knowing my Father’s heart for me, I’ve made an intentional effort to cut off the thought of comparison or even the envy of others. I no longer compare myself to others in terms of physical beauty. Instead, I focused on cultivating my inner beauty and relationship with God.

The 8-year-old Christiana would never have imagined that she would step up as a youth leader in her Church; she wouldn’t imagine impacting the lives of other girls; neither would she have imagined herself planning a conference for young women.

In fact, I still find it surreal that God has placed me at Kallos to hone my writing skills and be part of a Christian community that affirms young women of their identity in God.

Back then, I didn’t have the privilege of reading a Kallos magazine or attending a Kallos conference, but I hope a whole generation of young women will now have the chance to be reminded of their identities as daughters of the Most High. I’m believing that something powerful will happen when like-minded sisters gather to worship their King.

The Kallos Conference for young women between 12-25 years old takes place from December 21-22, 2017, at Faith Methodist Church. Started in 2015, it arose out of a desire to restore the wonder of God’s glory in the lives of young girls, and how an awakened wonder can restore one’s body image, sexuality and love for God’s Word. Find out more or register for the Conference here.