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I found myself, purpose through God

March 19, 2001

I found myself, purpose through God



As I think back on the 16 years of my life, many things come to mind - crushes I've experienced, phases that have come and gone - typical childhood occurrences. I recall the times spent with my grandfather in the hospital; the vacations spent at the beach with my family. All of these memories burn vividly in the recesses of my mind. I recently finished a term paper on self-esteem and that is the part of my life that I share with you now. This is the story of how I lost my self, and found it again.

I was a very strong-willed and confident child. I've attended church all my life, grew up in a strong Christian family, and am in my junior year at Heritage Academy, the school where I started my first day of kindergarten. I loved my classmates and looked forward to spending time with them. We played, laughed and learned together as friends, and as brothers and sisters it sometimes seemed. Then that inevitable time in life came along - the adolescent years.

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Sixth through eighth grade were probably the worst years of my life. During this time, I wore huge glasses and suffered with acne. People started to use these things as subjects of jokes and laughter. I likened them to a punishment to which, in my opinion, no one should be subjected. When the jokes started, I decided to search for alternative means of acceptance. I joined the junior high girls basketball team, hoping if I became star of the team, people would think of me as cool. But it turns out I wasn't the star, nor was I accepted. The jokes got worse, and I began to outwardly show my hurt from things said to me. I didn't take care for myself. That simply didn't matter anymore.

After two years of being called "depressed" and "deformed," I finally decided that I wasn't going to put up with this treatment. In eighth grade, I got rid of the glasses, started taking care of myself and admitted that I was not good at basketball and that being a sports star didn't matter.

I was surprised at the reactions I received from people who made fun of me. When I started to reveal my real self to those people, they respected me for being who I was, in spite of my weaknesses.

In 10th grade, I started wearing makeup, and for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful. Even friends started telling me they thought I was pretty.

My self-esteem skyrocketed. I thought my struggles with my image were behind me. Unfortunately, last summer I started to experience some of the same feelings that plagued me during my junior high years. I chose to help out at Good News Camp, a day camp in Pennsylvania, as a junior counselor. The camp director decided to make me a senior counselor instead. That week, working with fifteen 7-year-old girls, I realized that I felt complete, even fulfilled. I finally felt what I had waited my entire life to feel - that something I did had meaning.

Teaching those special girls about God and how much he loves them made me realize my life's purpose: to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. The last day of camp - Aug. 11, 2000 - I surrendered myself to God and the work that he has for my life. Though I still struggle with teenage emotions and high school life, I have confidence that these things will make me a stronger person, a better Christian. After all those years, I found myself in Jesus Christ.

Emilee Gail Hott is a junior at Heritage Academy west of Hagerstown.

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