By Kimberly Davidson

A counseling client asked me what I believed was the primary wound I carried from my past. After thinking for a moment, I answered, “I wasn’t chosen.” In school I was regularly left out of groups, and chosen last to be on a sports team.

This particular experience remains upfront in my memory bank. In college, every freshman in my dorm was assigned a sophomore or junior “mom” to guide and mentor her. The ceremony usually took place 3-months after school started so the “match-makers” could pair the freshman girl up with a person she had a good connection with.

The committee would go through the freshman list and the potential “mom” would tell the committee she wanted to be mom to the girl. Sometimes several girls would ask to be mom to one particular freshman. Then the committee made the decision. When the “matching ceremony” took place, it was usually no surprise that these girls were paired up.

Sara Madsen, my chosen mom, was a girl I barely knew. It was so clear to me that no one chose me. Sara got stuck with me. I wish I could say the story had a happy ending—that we became BFF’s. Sara’s obsession with her boyfriend meant I rarely saw her. Other mom-daughters did things together, not me and Sara. This was the closest I came to feeling like an orphan.

Today, there’s only two people in my life who have chosen to stay with me through thick and thin and forever—God and my husband.

The truth is, I have been chosen: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasureAnd when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit … you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1: 4,5,13).

John referred to himself several times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20). Over the centuries, he’s been criticized as being an egotist. I’m among a group who believes the opposite. I believe John’s self-expression came out of an unspeakable depth of awe and surprise. Try to imagine how astonished John was the day he fully realized that the love of Jesus turned out to be the love of God.

It was his way of saying, “The only way to understand how I came to be who I am now—a radically changed man—is to acknowledge that the most amazing life-changing thing that ever happened to me was receiving Jesus’s love and undeserving grace.” This knowledge has built up my self-worth, and it will yours. I have no idea what your childhood, adolescence or adulthood has been like. I do know that life works all of us over. Yet before any human hand touched us or tragedy forsook us, God called us His beloved—“the daughter whom Jesus loves.”

Our greatest need is to make God’s love for us our foundation. We need to know that we are completely loved—not because of anything we’ve done, but because of who God is. This is the extraordinary gift that Jesus gave to John. It is the life-changing gift He has for you and me. All we have to do is open our hearts and receive.