Hi everyone. My name is Linda and I live in a town called Luton. I have two jobs. I am a church leader in Luton, but I am also a teacher in a primary school in Luton, and I love my two jobs. They make my life really interesting and fun.
I wanted to share a little bit of my story with you. My family is one that travelled around a lot, and we lived in places like Singapore, Australia, and Nigeria. And although my family would have called themselves Christian, that's what we would have said, and we did go to church on occasion, and we did pray together at times. They didn't really have a real faith and understanding of what it meant to be a family that followed Jesus.
And when I was a young teenager, my family started going to church and really having a faith in Jesus. Now, that was the most incredible life-changing moment for me in two ways.
One, because I suddenly got to know this Jesus who changed my life, but also because suddenly from hanging out with people who were like me, other people from Sri Lankan or Indian backgrounds who, you know, ate the same kind of food, whose parents dressed in a similar way who spoke Tamil, which is the language my mom and dad speak.
Suddenly from going from a quite a tight-knit community of people, our family start going to church, where in Australia, we were pretty much the only Asian family, the only non-white family, in a church of around 200, 300 people. I love church, and I love finding out more and more about God, but I felt like we were a square peg trying to be shoved into a round hole, like we just didn't fit. I felt like I didn't fit.
My mom would often wear a sari to church and I was embarrassed by that. She looked beautiful, stunning, but I was like, "I just want you to fit in."
At the end of the service, everyone was encouraged to bring cakes or biscuits to share with one another, and my mom would bring samosas that she would make. And I would, I would just be, I would just groan and want to hide away. "Mom, why can't you just buy a cake like everyone else? "You don't even have to make it."
But my mom was very proud of her culture and heritage, but I was a teenager who just wanted us to fit in. I was embarrassed by my family. I was embarrassed by the fact that we stood out. I hated myself. I hated the fact that my hair was just a little bit too curly. My skin was a little bit too brown. I was too short.
My journey with God has been one that has taught me not just to believe in my head that God created me and loves me just the way I am, but to believe it in my heart. God created me and he created you exactly the way we are so that we can make a difference and shine brightly for such a time as this. Learning to love who we are is so important, and it's a journey.
All of us, no matter how confident, no matter how eloquent someone sounds, they have all been on a journey of learning to love who they are, and I want to encourage you. I want to encourage you, everyone listening, whatever your skin colour, whatever your hair texture, whatever your height or your size, God loves you, and he created you to be loved by others and to love yourself. He made you the way you are.
I used to write down affirmations of truth that the Bible says about me, and I would read them so that I read them and believe them so that they just weren't truth in my head, but that my heart was also transformed by the renewing of my mind. I want to encourage you to write out truths about yourself that God says and say them, believe them. Allow God to renew your mind so that you too are transformed into someone who believes who God says you are, "Fearfully and wonderfully made."