It was a beautiful, sunny morning. Becca and I were walking through the Fountain Park apartment complex and praying for all the people living there. We prayed for a group of preteen girls we'd had the opportunity to meet, but that we were struggling to build relationships with. In that moment, Becca and I both thought about hosting a sleepover with the girls where we could play lots of games, watch movies, get to know the girls and teach them some of God's truths. When we told our supervisor about it, she thought it was a great idea, and we began planning to make it happen.
Fast forward two weeks, and we have another beautiful, sunny morning. It was the day of the sleepover. As Becca and I began getting ready for the day, we started talking about this sleepover idea. How did two girls who never enjoyed sleepovers decide to host one
for 11 and 12-year-old girls? Where did this idea even come from? That's when we remembered the idea came to us while we were prayer walking. That's when we realized this was not our idea, it was God's, which changed everything.
As the girls came over to my supervisor's apartment for the sleepover that evening, there was a little awkwardness in the air. We made homemade pizza, and Becca and I danced around like fools, trying to get them to join in. No one joined in. That didn't stop Becca and I though. We continued to be our goofy, weird selves.
After we ate pizza, we began playing games and I started to see those walls of protection come tumbling down. Those 11 and 12-year-old girls began to open up and I couldn't help but smile. They started being goofy. They started being themselves. After our toilet paper fashion competition we all sat down together on the ground. I looked around at all those girls staring back at me. Beautiful girls, inside and out. And I prayed the story I was about to tell them would reach them.
I told these girls my story. I told them about all the bullying, the insecurities, the mistakes I made, the eating disorder that tried to steal my life. While I was telling my story, no one looked away or whispered. No one got distracted or bored. They were all totally focused on what God was saying through me. Then it was their turn. I asked them this question: "Has anyone ever made you feel unbeautiful?"
The girls didn't hesitate. Each shared from their hearts experiences they'd been through, bullying they'd faced, and tears came pouring down those girls' cheeks. My heart was broken. These beautiful girls were already facing so many painful insecurities. Those little hearts were already burdened with so much hurt and so many lies from the devil. I had to choke back my own tears. But that's when I got to share with them the good news.
I got to tell them the truth. I got to tell them how finding my worth in God saved my life. I got to tell them we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. I got to tell them we were all made in God's image and we were all a beautiful masterpiece created by God. I got to tell them God had a purpose for each and every one of us. I got to tell them what real beauty looks like.
At the end we all closed our eyes together. I asked them all to think about the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen, whether that be a starry sky, a mountain top, a beautiful sunset or anything else. Then I told them to think about the fact that the same God who created that, created them too. When they opened their eyes, I could see a light radiating from these girls' faces, and I knew God had touched their hearts.
The night moved on smoothly from there. It was filled with blind makeovers, all kinds of silly games, and of course a midnight glow in the dark dance party. When it was Becca's turn to share her story, those girls listened attentively again. Becca told them about her struggle with perfection and pride, and gave the girls an opportunity to share their own struggles with sin. Each girl shared and tears streamed down their faces once again.
Becca then got to share with them that we are all God's original masterpiece and we got to decorate mirrors together to be reminders to us of this truth. The rest of the night was filled with loads of fun and very little sleep. And every second of it was wonderful. I found myself wishing the night would go on forever.
The reason it was so wonderful was because it was God's. Every bit of the sleepover was God's idea and every word Becca and I spoke came from God. It was very evident God finally reached those girls that night. Girls we'd been trying to reach for weeks. And He chose Becca and I to be a part of that. He used us as His vessels, and for that I am forever grateful.
When I think back to those four beautiful girls staring back at me with tear-stained faces, all I can think about is God's glory, God's power, God's grace and mercy. God was so present that evening. We were completely surrounded by Him. My prayer is that these words God spoke will stick with these girls as they enter one of the hardest stages of life.
I hope they will turn to God to be their strength when the world feels like it is crashing down. And I pray they will remember they are ALWAYS unbelievably beautiful and loved beyond all belief in their Heavenly Father's eyes.
Laura Thomas, a student at Tarleton State University, is currently serving on the Creative Community Outreach team in Beaverton, OR, as a Go Now missionary. To read more about Laura's summer, please click here.