“Sometimes it’s difficult when I hear the phrase ‘child of God,’” said Cam Close. “My adolescent years were not a great experience for me; I remember my seventh-grade year as one of the worst. That year, the culmination of a confusing divorce, the introduction of an abusive relationship, and the abrupt absence of a parental figure at home left me feeling lonely and unwanted.
“The following summer, I was invited by a friend to a Christian camp. A few weeks later, I prayed a prayer to accept Jesus into my heart (Romans 10:9). While this decision played an integral part in my life and was the start of my relationship with Jesus, there was no discipleship or direction of what following Jesus practically looked like.
“Life at home became severely more traumatic and chaotic as the years went on. Often, I felt safer when I was at school, extracurricular activities, or friend’s houses, and as a result, I placed much of my identity in those things. On the outside, I wooed my way into being class president, captain of the swim team, and teacher’s pet, and also claimed to be a Christian. But on the inside, I was so empty and insecure. I created a false image of myself: a deceitful smile on my face, while thoughts of suicide flooded my mind. It is truly the Lord’s kindness I didn’t make that decision.
“When I got to college, I loved the things of the world as if they would love me back, but instead they left me feeling lonelier and more unlovable than ever before. The incessant desire to be all things to all people, to be enough, to prove I was worthy of being loved, to be perfect – it created a chasm in my heart. I’d never learned the importance of paying attention to my faith, so my relationship with the Lord was nonexistent.
“But I remember sitting in my car one day and realizing I hadn’t opened my Bible in years. I immediately felt so ashamed of the days I wasted in foolishness and disobedience, a slave to various passions and pleasures, in malice and envy, hating myself and others, and living in such sin against God (Titus 3:3). I thought there was no way He could forgive me for all I’d done. I thought, I’ve never been good enough for anyone to love me and most certainly now I am not good enough for Jesus. I started believing again that suicide was my only escape.
“Psalm 116:5-9 best describes what followed that dark season. In God’s sovereignty, I was hired at a Christian camp as a summer counselor. During this time, the Holy Spirit showed me how much I did not actually know God or the gospel. I was teaching middle school kids about the free gift of salvation and abundant forgiveness from God for sin through Jesus, though I continued to live as if that couldn’t be true for me. I understood that because of God’s goodness and loving kindness that Jesus came to save me from my depravity and give me eternal hope (Titus 3:4-7).
“I tried to walk in obedience to God one day at a time and eventually found a passion in discipling students. I didn’t have that kind of relationship when I needed it and found much joy in being used by God to be that for other girls now.
“After college, through the the Watermark Institute, I grew in my knowledge of Scripture and my relationship with the Lord, and I finally realized I had been operating for so long as if no one loved me – especially God. I could tell everyone else, ‘Your life is priceless. You’re made in God’s image. God loves you.’ But that just didn’t click in my heart.
“I was uncovering all of this in the middle of 2020, when the topic of race was at the forefront of society. This revealed even more deep-rooted insecurities and feelings of inadequacy that I buried for so much of my life. There was a time in American history where people with my skin color were viewed as three-fifths of a person? How could I ever be good enough?
“When I stepped back and viewed my life and myself with a biblical perspective, I saw how many things cloud and blur the way I view the Lord and the way the Lord views me. I must sift those lies out. Why? Because 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Scripture has made it so plain to me: The gospel is that God does in fact love me, so much so that He sacrificed His Child, Jesus, in order that I might be called His child, too. Sin – in my personal life, of others, or in history – doesn’t change who God is. I now look forward to the Lord revealing how the sin that’s affected me ultimately will be used for His glory.
“While I suspect I still have much grieving left to do for the childhood I lost, the innocence that was taken from me, the destructive lies that informed my worth, and the consequences of my own rebellion, I do not grieve as one without hope. God is in the business of redemption (Colossians 1:13-14).”