Jesus said, “Thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Those three words have changed the way I think about myself. I’m sure those words had an impact on the first people who heard them as well—the Israelites. Because of their unrighteous decisions, the scattered Israelites were afflicted, robbed, and trapped by their enemies. They were in a distressing state; the prophet Isaiah mourned over their condition when he wrote, “Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies,…have snared thee in holes, and…have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth” (Joseph Smith Translation, Isaiah 42:23). But the Lord did not abandon them. Rather, he said to them, “O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Christ reminded them who he was. Then he reminded them who they were. He assured Israel of his love and redemptive power.
I came across this chapter at a time when all my hopes for happiness felt just as scattered as the tribes of Israel. I was eighteen years old and a senior in high school. Though high school isn’t an easy time for anyone, the past few months had been especially difficult for me. My family had never been perfect, but I never saw it coming—my parents’ divorce. When I heard the news, I felt like the Israelites—robbed, snared, and captured. I was robbed of a harmonious family relationship and a father who lived at home. I was snared in a hole, stuck in a situation I had no control over. I was the prey, captured by a new kind of sorrow.
On top of that, I didn’t know who I was. I struggled through a typical high-school identity crisis. Besides feeling sad, I also felt self-conscious. I felt like I couldn’t measure up to the other girls, even though I was five foot eleven and towered over them. I was frustrated with myself—I felt I was the only one who didn’t fit in. I told myself, “You are too tall. You are not pretty. You are alone, and you are not good enough.”
One day, I was overwhelmed by these feelings of frustration. I went to the Boise Idaho Temple the next day; it was there that I opened the Bible and read those three words—“thou art mine”—for the first time. When I read them, it was like Jesus directed them to me: “You are mine.” He continued, “Olivia, all those words you use to describe yourself, that’s not who you are. Who you are is mine.” I believed him. And I still do. And when those other thoughts come creeping back, or when my hopes feel scattered again, I am comforted as I think, “I am his.” That’s all that I could ever hope to be.
—Olivia Winward, Winter 2023 Latter-day Saint Insights Writing Contest Winner
FEATURED IMAGE PROVIDED BY LDS MEDIA LIBRARY