“She has great worth, and he saw that in her.” My best friend Annabelle’s mom spoke this about one of her daughter’s best friends and that girl’s boyfriend, but I immediately thought, “Someday somebody will say that about me.”
This summer I have been learning that I have worth, value, and beauty. God used my time in Denver with my mentor Melanie and the Denver Urban Semester (DUS)/ Issachar community to begin healing my heart from half a lifetime of not believing who God says I am — a woman of “beauty beyond measure,” as my friend Blake told me, and someone with great worth.
If I took the time to reflect on my friends outside of school during secondary school or my friends from senior year and a few others, I am sure I could compile a lengthy list of people who loved me and appreciated me. However, I never felt as if I truly belonged until I was out of my former school environment and in college. I never searched my heart and put to words my feelings about not believing I had worth until this summer in DUS.
Although I know my female friends have affirmed and accepted me this past year and in previous years, I receive the messages better from males. I do not know why male affirmation appears more significant and believable to me than that of females, but my brain and heart work that way. Hence, I would like to note and thank several guy friends who have especially revealed my worth to me.
Niles, me and our friend Lauren. Photo credit: Millie Cline
Niles McConnell sees such treasure in me. He said I am his friend, and for him to let someone in like that is significant. He sees me as a woman, and he informed me that my love for God is obvious and uncommon, which is the highest praise I could desire. Niles’ refrain of “You’re the woman, Skye” boosted my confidence this summer. When we spent a day at the hospital because of his hand injury, he encouraged and affirmed me without my asking, and he asked me questions about myself, contributing to what ironically became one of the best days of my summer in Denver. I know that Niles cares about me because of how intently he listens to me and asks hard questions. I am honored to know a man like Niles, for he loves our God and his Eastside and lives so purely for Jesus.
Brandon and I decorating cookies last summer. Photo credit: Mrs. Wallis
Brandon Wallis is one of my best friends. He lives in Connecticut, “back home,” although we know each other from RBGY Camp. We have been friends for about seven years, and we have grown especially close in the past one or two. Brandon “gets” me, which is rare. He trusts me and opens up to me more and more each time we are together, subtly affirming my worth. Honestly, I am simply grateful that he trusts me and calls me one of his best friends.
Brandon and I are like the same person in some aspects such as our unique movie tastes (we love Barbie movies) and enjoyable pastimes. We make beautiful music together, color in coloring books and spend time doing other odd and creative recreations, laugh and have fun anytime we hang out, and talk about deep things and about life in general. I feel comfortable wearing sweats or pajamas around him, yet his making me comfortable no matter what makes me want to dress up sometimes. Basically, I always feel beautiful around him. I love Brandon and thank God for strengthening our friendship in recent years.
From L to R: Josh Fort, Shinyoung Kim, Iliana Rivera, and me at Arena Theater’s performance of The Liar. Photo Credit: a girl who lived in Fischer Hall
Josh Fort encourages me by saying how I encourage him, which I find ironically humorous. He takes care of me by making sure I do not eat lactose and that I get rest; he notices when I am not my usual, cheerful self; and he knows who that normal, healthy self is. The fact that he knows who I am stands out most to me. It demonstrates that he knows my value and inner beauty.
I am also incredibly grateful for Josh’s compassion, how he is always a phone call away for either an emergency or to hang out, and for his kind care for me. Several times this summer, I thought of how Josh takes care of me and how he is one of my top four closest friends at Wheaton College, and this makes me believe he is one of my best friends as well. Finally, Josh is forgiving. I have cried with him over my sin, and our relationship has burgeoned since then; may all praise be to God.
Maurice Bokanga in his noble hat. Photo Credit: unknown; stolen from his Facebook page
I can cry on my friend Maurice Bokanga’s shoulder. He understands why I walk in the snowdrifts instead of on the sidewalk, and we build each other up in our faith by encouraging each other to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He makes me laugh, and I trust him. My trusting someone on a deep level means a lot, incidentally.
Samuel and I goofing off. Photo credit: us 😉
Samuel Kim, another friend from Wheaton, also “gets” me. When he asks how I am, he honestly cares. His care makes me feel incredibly valued. Samuel and I have shared laughter, serious conversations, tears and prayers, and spicy birthday Thai food. (I had to bring that up, Samuel.)
Shinyoung and I. Photo credit: Shinyoung Kim
Other times this summer when I thought about times I truly felt valued, I repeatedly remembered eating at the Stupe with Shinyoung Kim, a new friend at Wheaton. I remember sharing some childhood story in which he was honestly interested. He intently looked at me as I shared memories and was not bored by me. I bring this memory to mind when I need to remember that people actually want to listen to me and care about what I say.
I am also grateful for my other DUS brothers and everyone else who has shown me my worth by telling me of my value and beauty, caring for me, praying with and for me, listening to me, simply liking who I am and not being judgmental, hugging me and working through the causes of my tears. God used you gentlemen on my road to healing, to believing who Jesus says I am and who He made me to be. I love you, my friends, and I thank you from the center of my heart.