The 80s was a fun time for Christian kids. Mind you, we had catchy tunes from the Donut Man and engaging radio hits from Adventures in Odyssey, but the real crème de la crème was Psalty – a cartoon book of Psalm with a face. I know what you’re thinking. And yes. For a while I thought my Bible was ‘truly’ alive for a few years. However, these cassette tapes were golden in Christian circles. They were purchased more than denim jumpers. Psalty was like the Justin Bieber of Sunday School music, which is why his music was ALWAYS a big hit during kid’s choir concerts. Hundreds of kids would step up to the hanging ceiling microphones and belt out the latest tune.

I want to take you back to one specific memory that still stays with me to this day – I want to take you back to the first time that I understood the love of God. We all can recollect that moment. As you peruse my past, I invite you to contemplate your own and ask God to reveal to you your own story.

When did you realize that God loved you – specifically, purposely and personally?

Welcome to the 80s.

The choir director who resembles Miss Frizzle came barging into the room and demanded the attention of hundreds of wide-eyed parents and relatives. With a wave of her hand and a dramatic bow she greeted the crowd. “Welcome!” She bellowed. “We invite you to take a listen, grab your cameras and enjoy this wonderful program.”

As she adjusted her stand, the choir stirred in their chairs – some poked each other and waved to their families in the cramped church. I stood behind the curtain – waiting, wondering and trembling with fear. However, as I heard that familiar music, my brain and feet found agreement and I walked to the center of the stage.

“…For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile, you gave me Jesus and you made me your child, And I just thank you Father for making me, me…”

I thought through those words as they fell off my tongue. I was making a deceleration. I was making a definition. I was making a decision. I realized that this chorus was more than a Sunday School melody – it was my identity. I knew who I was.

I Learned to be Fearless   

Steven Furtick’s book, Crash the Chatterbox has been my table-top book of the month. It’s been my reflection and introspection. As I was reading through his text this week, my eyes were drawn to an amazing truth that challenged my sense of self.

He wrote, “You must consider the cost of playing it safe in an attempt to avoid what God is calling you to do – and succeeding.” Wow! Ok, this line was not easy to swallow. I count myself as pretty confidant and self-sufficient, but this line brought me to my knees and caused me to question the strength of my voice. Yes. I was leading. I was breaking down strongholds. I was facing my own giants to fulfill God’s purpose. However, my volume was on silent – my perception of myself had become muted in the midst of the crowds. I was going into the wilderness of fear with a whispering faith.

I Learned to be Authentic  

As pastors and leaders, we have the amazing privilege of leading countless numbers of people into the throne room of God and into the fields of His purpose. However, this privilege can come at a cost. Many times, we forget to check our own lives. We forget to ask God to indwell in those places that we’ve locked away. Many times, we forget to raise the volume in our own life and ask God to search our own hearts.

My voice still shakes a bit. My knees still knock. However, I’ve learned to embrace the love of God and embrace the way God made me to exemplify that love. All of us are different. This is a beautiful truth. Your purpose is tied to your talents, your personality and your specific design. God created you to give people a glimpse of Christ; however, His character shines through us distinctively.

RELATED: Calling & Identity: Which Comes First?

I Learned to Accept God’s Love

Matthew 3:17 declares, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” This passage reminds us that God sees us, He knows us and is pleased with us.

When we comprehend the depth of God’s love towards us, we understand the strength of God’s power within us.

We all face fears daily. It’s impossible to step out and progress forward in our walk with Christ without facing barriers. However, as we progress, we must be reminded that His LOVE is what casts out fear.

Have you been there? Have you ever declared victory over those around you and counted yourself out of the running? God has made us in His image – His likeness – His character traits. Every part of us is purposed by His hand. When we come to this awesome understanding, it compels us – it compels us to see ourselves clearly and purposefully.

As I look back on the years that changed me the most, I still think back to that day. I look back to the moment when I was that little girl with an 80’s updo who knew who she was – a little girl with glitterific leggings who was leading hundreds in a chorus on identity. Let us all go back to that time when we fearlessly declared, “I just thank you Father for making me, ME…”

Colleen speaks at numerous conferences, churches and colleges and challenges her generation to BE the CHURCH and put feet to their faith. Her passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. She consults with companies and helps them create teams that function from a place of communication and reach the millennial generation. She also is the Founder and Director of LOUD Summit – a young adult conference that engages the conservative, progressive and skeptic to pull up a chair and seek Christ. When Colleen is not studying for her DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find her enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.