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171 || Wonderfully Made: Discovering Identity in the Midst Of Depression

From the outside, it looked like Allie Marie Smith had it all together.

Allie earned straight A’s in school, excelled in athletics and attended church with her family. But the young girl who appeared to be flourishing was actually a deeply conflicted teenager. As young as 12 years old, Allie began having severe feelings of low self esteem. Internal and external pressures left her hungry for help, but she wasn’t sure who would listen. Depression set in, and questions flooded her mind about the purpose of her existence.

Allie battled depression all throughout high school, but everything changed when she was 18. Her depression became so paralyzing she was actually hospitalized. No longer able to hide from her reality, Allie was afraid everyone would discover her secret. But what happened next surprised her.

People caught wind of her story and began to pray for her.

In the midst of her brokenness, Allie became fully aware of her need to truly know God. It was through her darkest hours that God became real in her life. Her faith became genuine and personal as she began to read the Bible with a new perspective. Hope replaced depression. Through treatment, she found community in a young adult group, where she discovered more and more hidden treasures. It was in that group that Allie uncovered a beautiful treasure in Psalm 139, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

“I can still remember the first time I read Psalm 139 and thought ‘How come I never read this before? This is so beautiful.’ I just felt like every girl needed to know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. She wasn’t an accident. She was created for a beautiful purpose.”

After reading Psalm 139:14, Allie felt compelled to tell every girl the beautiful truth she had found in the Psalm. She knew it was a calling in her life to share the scripture and verse to multitudes of girls. It was a starting point for Allie to not only share the truth that girls are fearfully and wonderfully made, but help start their relationship with Christ and ultimately discover their true identity. Psalm 139 gave birth to what would eventually become the nonprofit organization Wonderfully Made.

Allie began meeting with a group of about 30 girls at Pepperdine University. Her struggles were not over, but now she had the necessary tools to fight her internal battles. The girls were excited, and their numbers were growing. But as depression often does, it crept back into Allie’s life. She eventually had to withdraw from Pepperdine and returned to her parent’s home to seek more help.

Allie thought the plan to tell the world about Psalm 139 had ended, but God was just getting started.

She began attending Santa Clara University. With a new resolve, Allie desired to continue where she left off with her passion. She put up a poster in a girls’ bathroom on campus. Three girls responded, and they began meeting. Wonderfully Made was born.

Today, Wonderfully Made impacts more than just a small group of college girls on campuses. The nonprofit organization partners with churches and hosts conferences for younger aged girls — as young as 13 years old. The conferences include speakers and worship leaders whose aim is to help every attendee find her identity in Christ.

Allie and her organization have also created Bible study materials for individuals or small groups. One of the studies, “Healthy Eating and Abundant Living,” is focused on creating a healthy relationship with food and the body. The study aims to promote positive body image. Another study, “Becoming Who You Are In Christ,” is all about identity and discovering personal value in Christ. These studies serve as a way to help young girls discover the hidden truths that changed Allie’s life forever.

One of the most powerful features of Wonderfully Made is the opportunity they give girls to speak up. Through videos called HerStory, girls are able to share their experiences with the world. Allie and her team began shooting HerStory video testimonies because they knew so many young girls spend so much time online. Why not offer a real connection to a real person through the power of story?

How does Allie and her team afford to continue offering encouragement to young girls everywhere? They sell clothing, jewelry and other Wonderfully Made items with encouraging messages on them. On a regular basis they get feedback that their clothing items serve as a reminder to the girls who wear them about their identity.

Allie thought she was defeated when her depression set in. Instead, God met her in her depression and gave her a real purpose in life. How amazing is God that He would come and find us at our worst and give us His best? For Allie, it changed everything. She now lives with a sense of purpose.

Maybe, by discovering how you are wonderfully made, you could discover your real purpose as well.

[Image via Janelle Stephanie]

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