Selena Gomez has a lot of names: producer, actress, best friend to Taylor Swift, recording artist, Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend and activist. Now, she’s speaking out about another designation — Child of God. At a recent Hillsong conference, Selena spoke about her journey to finding God in the chaos of Hollywood, according to CBN.
Her tearful speech centered on a letter she wrote to her 15-year-old self that details how she will struggle with her faith and fame but come out on the other side, with a stronger relationship with God.
Hindsight is 20/20, right?
“You are already being pursued by God who knit you together and called you His, but you still don’t know that this can be more than a nightly prayer; you don’t know that this will become the most important relationship,” Selena wrote to her teenage self.
This is far from the first time the 25-year-old star has spoken out about her faith. She isn’t shy about sharing it with everyone from concert-goers to Vogue magazine. She’s even posted Bible verses on her Instagram account. A lot of people do that, but not a lot of people have 130 million followers.
Growing Up Disney
Selena’s life wasn’t always glitz and glamour. She started off more jeans-and-boots as the daughter of a 16-year-old, single mother in Texas.
One of her first memories was digging through the carseat cushions for change so her mom could buy cups of dollar-store spaghetti for dinner.
In a lot of ways, she’s a modern-day Cinderella story, which is fitting since it was Disney that made her famous. She got her start on Barney and Friends — yes, the purple dinosaur that loved everyone and drove parents nuts with his sing-song mantra. The show filmed in Dallas and recruited local children.
She lasted two seasons before getting fired.
Then, after a few years of minor parts and failed auditions, the Disney Channel hired Selena for a starring role in Wizards of Waverly Place. At 13, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother and stepfather, and they worked as a family to grow her career.
It’s a dream for most kids. The acting roles led to a music career. All of that led to working as a producer for her own television series. She’s an A-lister with a line of celebrity bachelors knocking down her door.
But, as is the case with a lot of child stars, she soon became overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy. She had panic attacks before going on stage at her concerts and eventually had to check herself into a Christian-run rehab facility for anxiety.
Throughout all of her struggles, Selena thought she knew God. She thought she was getting the best of Him when she went down the aisle in her Texas church as a child and received communion. She thought that was as good as it gets.
She was wrong.
“God is someone you pray to before you go to sleep,” Selena wrote to her younger self. “This is all you know … You already have faith, but you have no idea what you have faith in.”
Fifteen-year-old Selena had a lot to learn.
In her early 20s, Selena was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease that attacks healthy tissues. It was debilitating, making her already hectic Hollywood life even harder.
The panic attacks and anxiety she had been facing were all side effects of the disease. She would need something stronger and greater than rehab to help her.
That help came in a church service on her birthday.
“On your 23rd birthday, Jesus will become real to you,” Selena said. “More than a nightly prayer, more than the strength of your friends, more than the name in a devotional, He will become real.”
She would eventually have to have chemotherapy and a kidney transplant to help her fight lupus, but by then she had a thriving relationship with the God that heals.
The anxiety is still there sometimes — anyone in the spotlight that much can be expected to have some stresses about life — but Selena now has a peace that surpasses the paparazzi.
“It will take you many years to learn that your identity is rooted in something so much deeper than the decisions you have made,” Selena said. “It will take you time, but you will find freedom here. You will learn that your identity is loved and chosen. It is the chosen daughter of God.”
It’s that last title, chosen daughter of God, that makes all the other names — actress, singer, songwriter, A-lister — fall away.
That’s the only one that matters.