Hi, my name is Mari Montgomery, I’m 18 and I am from America. I grew up in a loving family where I was always surrounded by my Catholic faith. I grew up not just knowing but feeling loved by my family, friends, and by Jesus. I loved my faith, even as a young kid, and I found a lot of joy in it. I loved going to youth groups, retreats and Mass, even if I got a little bored sometimes.
When I was 13, my dad left, and my world basically shattered in slow motion and I couldn’t do anything about it. I didn’t know what to do any more. I saw myself as the girl from a broken family, but obviously no one wants that to be their identity. So, I looked for my worth in other things that I could do or be, or what people in this world would look at and see as special. Honestly, I didn’t know my worth and because of that I didn’t have much self-respect. But the thing was, I longed to be proved wrong, to be told instead that I was worthwhile and important to someone. I wanted to hear someone say, “Hey, Mari, you’re amazing because of this or that,” but I didn’t get what I was looking for and I ended up believing the lies I told myself about who I was and my worth. Through all of this I still stayed in my faith, loved going to Mass, youth group, and retreats, but I was only going through the motions. I also had a relationship with Jesus, but it wasn’t deep.
Then during the summer before my last year of secondary school, I attended a Catholic youth conference called Steubenville. I was in adoration, which is where the priest carries the bread we receive at Mass, which we as Catholics believe is the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in a gold stand called a monstrance. As the priest was processing around the crowd, everyone was praying and singing out loud, so I was too, when suddenly as I was praying, the words “I’m not worthless” came out. As I said them, I just started sobbing because those words weren’t mine. I didn’t mean to say them, they just happened; and as they did, I felt Jesus’s love in such a real way than ever before in my life., I felt Jesus releasing me from the lies that I had believed for so long. When I looked up, the priest carrying the stand was beside me, meaning that Jesus was literally right beside me, which showed me that those words had come from Him.
In that moment I realized that the person who saw me as special, who saw me as worthwhile, was Jesus. He was the one who proved me wrong and told me that I was loved and wanted by Him. In that moment I realized that I had allowed the divorce to be my identity, so I told Jesus I was tired of that and He showed me my identity. Now I know my identity is found in Jesus and I am loved by Him and no matter what this world says or does that fact will never change. That night, I became fully aware of that fact and genuinely believed it with all my heart. After that night, I saw myself as worthy of respect. This only happened last year but I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve changed. But just because this happened doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with those lies and insecurities, but now I know that they are not true. And even though difficult things still happen, I know that the joy I have from Jesus is deeper than any pain this world could ever cause. So, I encourage you to allow Jesus to satisfy your heart, because this world has no idea what real worth is, but He does.