“How can you not have a life verse?” asked the pastor at Lynn Valley Full Gospel Church. “A life verse is crucial! It’s an anchor in the storm, a lighthouse in the dark, an embrace on the long, lonely, cold nights of the soul. If you don’t have a life verse, you don’t have life itself.”
Okay, maybe the pastor wasn’t that dramatic. Nor did he say anything about life verses being anchors in storms, lighthouses in the dark or embraces at night. But he did ask what my life verse was. Trouble is, he didn’t tell me how to find my life verse.
That was five years ago. It took me another three years to find my life verse, which turned out to be Psalm 8:4-8: “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
That life verse described my lifelong struggle to believe God is actually paying attention to me. Who am I, that He should be mindful of me? Does God really see me — and was Jesus really thinking about when He died on the cross as the Christ? The one person I rarely question is the Holy Spirit. I’m strongly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
But my life verse has changed since then! It’s much more life-giving, energizing, and powerful now. Here’s how I found my new life verse and how it actually affects my life.
How to Find Your Life Verse
Here’s my new life verse: “I am like a tree planted along the riverbank, with roots reaching deep into the water. I do not fear when the heat comes, or worry in long seasons of drought. My leaves stay green and never fail to produce fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8.
My old life verse — Psalm 8:4-8 — described how lost I was when God found me. It summarized how low and unworthy I felt, how much I needed proof that God cared about me. “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.” I could not understand how God—who created the vast universe, starry skies, deep oceans, dry deserts and delicious desserts—could possibly know and love me.
What a life verse does
The Psalm 8 life verse did what psychology books and counseling couldn’t: literally change how I saw myself. I needed a life verse that changed my self-identity and really, really convinced me that I am a beloved child of God. I needed to change how I believed God saw me. I grew up with a single schizophrenic mom, moving in and out of foster homes, finally meeting my dad at age 29 when I went to Jerusalem for the first time (he’s Jewish). I also survived an attempted rape during a home invasion and three years teaching grade eight at an American school for missionaries’ kids in Nairobi, Kenya.
See why I needed to find a life verse? I was a wreck!
My old life verse brought me here today
Intellectually I understood why I could not live deeply and profoundly out of God’s love. I knew He loved me, I believed Jesus died for me, and I often felt the Holy Spirit’s presence. But I just could not wrap my mind around the idea that the Lord God cared about me. Who am I, that He should look twice or think once? What difference did my presence make to God or others? I am too little, He is too big.
A couple months ago, my first book was published by Bethany House: Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. In it I weave my stories of loss, grief and healing with ten women of the Bible, from Eve to Mary of Nazareth. I also include 50 “Blossom Tips” to help readers apply my insights, wisdom and information to their own life. Writing that book was the most spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and intellectually exhausting experience of my life. It was also the most healing…but it still wasn’t enough to convince me that God had more than a passing interest in me.
My old life verse helped…and then I needed a new one.
How I found my new life verse
Sometimes finding your life verse is a process. It took me three steps to find my new life verse…
The first step was participating in an activity that invited me to picture myself the way God sees me and write myself a letter from His perspective. When I saw myself through God’s eyes, my heart melted. I was filled with compassion, love, and kindness for the little Laurie who experienced such sad times and terrible losses. I saw myself as a little girl with ribbons and curls, bouncy and joyful! Precious, lovable, and worthy of God’s attention. A little girl naive and vulnerable, whole and free, loved by Jesus. That exercise (along with my old life verse) helped heal my pain and shame, and brought me one huge step closer to God.
The second step was during my morning contemplative prayer. I didn’t plan to do this, but I imagined Jesus giving me back myself as a little girl. I saw Him standing behind me as little Laurie, His hands on her shoulders, his eyes warm and compassionate. He was gazing at the now me—grown up Laurie—with such love that I could not look away. Jesus said He had been taking care of little Laurie for the past five decades. I had buried her. I could not let her out because I did not want her to get hurt. I had to hide her deep down, far far away so she would be safe. I thought she was dead but Jesus had been loving and caring for her the whole time! Now He was giving her back to me, happy and eager, safe and whole, healed and joyful. This was the best experience I have ever had in prayer…and it helped me find my new life verse.
The third experience was on my 49th birthday. I went for a slow, thoughtful hour-long walk in the sun and through the forest. First I listened to a contemplative prayer podcast; the pastor encouraged us to ask God a question that was burning in our heart. “How do I really feel and receive your love, Father?” I asked. “How can your love, peace, freedom and joy get so deep in me that I can do nothing but shine You?”
Right after that I listened to a Holy Spirit lecture on the Pepperdine University podcast. The professor explained that the fact that God is so awesome, inconceivable, powerful, incomprehensible and holy is the very thing that enables Him to know and relate to every single one of us as if we were the only one on earth.
The penny finally dropped. Those three experiences have done more than seal my identity, soothe my soul and deepen my relationship with all three persons of the Trinity. They changed everything…and they led me to my new life verse.
My new life verse
My old life verse was Psalm 8:4-8: “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
My new life verse is: “I am like a tree planted along the riverbank, with roots reaching deep into the water. I do not fear when the heat comes, or worry in long seasons of drought. My leaves stay green and never fail to produce fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8.
I adapted it to fit the Holy Girl that God is creating, growing and blossoming in me. I reflect on and pray over this verse almost every day. Soon I’ll write a blog post about it — I’ll describe what each phrase means.
What is your life verse? Your big and little comments are welcome below!
In peace and passion,
P.S. It’s easier to find — or change — your life verse when you feel and know God’s love. If you’re struggling in your relationship with Jesus, read Your Purpose as a Child of God – Echoes of Dawn.