When Who You Are Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

We may be embarrassed to admit it, but there are three, little words we women long to hear.  And it may be different than some might think.

From our earliest memories, we are aware that we were born with this desire – like a seed planted deep in the heart and soul of us – to know we are loved and cherished.

And it’s like the unfolding of a flower opening to the sun when it happens – When we feel those things being expressed through this secretly-coveted affirmation.

You Are Beautiful!

But it takes more than hearing. It takes believing. And that can be difficult.

I chuckle now at that time in high school when a classmate told me I could be pretty if I just used more mascara. She whipped a tube out of her purse and began to work on my lackluster lashes. I don’t think she achieved the transformation she envisioned. 

Then, there are those glamor magazines, filled with models and Hollywood celebrities, all with perfect skin and straight teeth and well-sculpted bodies. We’ve heard about photography tricks and photoshop, but we can’t forget the images we’ve seen. Especially when we look in the mirror.

We have this snapshot of pretty painted on our brain and our own eyes speak the plain truth that no amount of makeup can cover over.

We are who we are. 


But if we don’t know who we are, our hearts can become targets for deception.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

The Seattle Times published a piece on human trafficking in which writer, Nicole Brodeur, reveals that “many of these kids go willingly, lured by attention and the affection they crave.” Even more shocking, the article goes on to quote Lt. Eric Sano of the Seattle Police Department:

“The victims would rather endure the beatings or the rapes for the times he tells her he loves her, when he tells her she’s beautiful and treats her like a princess.”

It’s important for us to understand who we are.

We are daughters of the King! And these are His words to us:

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

How can a dearly loved Princess of God feel anything but beautiful? But we do.

Because our culture is screaming the opposite.

I was watching a sitcom recently that actually touched on this subject. Two parents were lamenting over the negative messages our society is sending to young women. As we see them discuss their teenaged daughters questionable dating choices, the wife says to the husband in desperation, “They are expected to look and act like porn stars!”

Yes, sadly, the culture is screaming loud.
And not just at teens, but adults as well. 

Case in point: The overwhelming sales of a certain book that exploded on the scene this past year. When I heard about some of the content, I must have turned 50 shades of red. That was enough to know it’s something I won’t be putting on my reading list.

Even the author admits that she’s not a great writer and that she is “stunned” by it’s popularity. But, really, it’s not surprising at all. Her book is categorized as a “romance” and statistics show that romance novels are a billion (not a million, a BILLION) dollar industry, far surpassing all other genres.

And I get how a woman might turn to fantasy to try and escape from the weight of her own reality. How she might like to forget her own story and lose herself in one that offers some version of the love she lacks. But when the last chapter is read, she’ll still be looking for something to fill the pages of her heart.

Because that’s the way the enemy works. That slithering snake has a counterfeit version of every good thing God offers us. And, just like a predator, he lures us with the lie that he can supply what we need. But he can’t.

Christian women beware! 

The King of Heaven has called you out of darkness. He has crowned you with light. He wants you to know that His love for you is real. Not a cheap imitation. So, don’t eat the forbidden fruit. You are precious and beautiful treasure to Him. Believe that.

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.
Ephesians 5:8

Look in the mirror and speak these truths out loud until all those other voices begin to fade.

Teach them to your children.

Remind every young girl you meet.

You are a child of God. Romans 8:16

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

You are loved with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3  


Let’s face it. We are who we are.

And that’s a good thing!

Do you think the media makes it harder for women today to deal with issues of self-worth? How has God helped you to accept the fact that who you are is enough?
 

A Safe Place to Dream

I said in an earlier post that I was going to be writing throughout the month of March on the subject of “the shadows that shape us and the Light that saves us.” So when I saw this challenge from Holley Gerth, I knew exactly what I wanted to share today.

Holley asked us to write “A Letter to the God-sized Dreamers – telling your sisters why what they’re doing and who they’re becoming through this process is worth it–even on the hard days.”

I’ll begin with a little back story. For most of my life, I’ve been a shadow-dweller. Hiding myself and my God-given dreams from others. Trying to protect myself from being judged and ridiculed. I was afraid to let the real me be seen and, as a result, I even forgot who I was.

To this day, it’s something I still struggle with. I have to consistently work on overcoming my desire for other people’s acceptance because I know good and well that I’m accepted by God. He knows me, He loves me and that’s all that really matters.

I recall a conversation I had a few years ago with a woman who was grilling me over my job-status. I’m paraphrasing, but this is the gist of that conversation:

“What do you do all day?”
Well, I do a lot of writing. I volunteer, I…
 “Are you still looking for a job?”
Well, sure. I’d love to be working full time but…
“Wow, I could never do that. I’d be so bored.”

I felt condemnation in her questions. Especially when she told me about some of the women she knew who just went to the gym or the spa all day while their kids were at school. It sounded like she was insinuating that women who did not work outside the home were all the same – lazy, good-for-nothings. It wasn’t hard to figure out that she pretty much had the same opinion of me.

And the thing is, it hurt.

I told her that this season of my life had been tough, but it was just that – a season. And I did not know how long it would last but I was trying to learn whatever God was trying to teach me through it.

I think I actually heard crickets as she stared at me, silent, eyebrows arched, as if waiting for a better explanation.

The truth is, I wasted a lot of time fretting over the set-back of unemployment until I realized that even this was part of His plan for me. That “down time” had an up side. It made me look up. It caused me to grow closer to God and re-connect to my true self.

And, for that, I am thankful.

I’m also thankful for the empathy I now have for those who suffer in ways we cannot see. I wonder how many times I may have judged a person unfairly without knowing or caring to learn their story. What I’ve learned is that our paths are different. Your journey will not look the same as mine, and mine may not make sense to you but we all have one common denominator.

We belong to God. And we are slowly becoming the person He designed us to be.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Our lives, our giftings, our dreams are all unique and they come from our Creator and no one is less than or more than another.

So maybe we should stop pouring salt in each others wounds with our insensitive words and condescending looks and silent presumptions and accusations. Let’s give grace to one another because it’s a lot easier for us to fulfill our calling when we have the encouragement of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Just think how far we could go, what heights we could climb, if we could share our true selves and support each other in pursuit of the dreams God has placed in each one of us!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Maybe something has thrown you off course. You’re in a place you’ve never been before, a place so dark you can’t see your way out. Maybe you haven’t heard this in a while and you might not believe it right now but I want to tell you something.

Whoever you are, wherever you are – You are not alone!

You matter. Your dreams matter. God gave them to you for a reason and, even though you may feel misunderstood by others, do not misunderstand this: God has a plan for you that is perfect and bigger and better than anything you can imagine.

Today, if you find yourself peaking out from the shadows, wondering if it’s safe to come into the Light, the answer is yes! Don’t be afraid. Your God-sized dream awaits.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

 

Closed Doors and Open Windows

This weekend it happened. For the first time in a very long time the temperatures dropped down low enough for me to be able to open up the windows in my home.
 
So I did. 
The cool breezes wafted merrily into grateful rooms that had been gasping for fresh air all summer. It seemed as if me and this house and the whole, wide world had turned some invisible corner and we were all breathing a unified sigh of relief.
 
It felt like hope. The kind my friend in Tennessee had to cling hard to through years of trying to conceive and then going through the process of adoption. All those closed doors. All that waiting and wishing and praying.
And then, relief. 
This weekend she and her husband brought home their little boy and I, along with their many friends and family, are celebrating their open window.
 
Because it may sound cliche but it’s true.

“When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” 

Quote from the Sound of Music
Are you staring at a closed door today?
Don’t give up hope!
Somewhere there is an open window waiting for you. 
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Linking with 
 

Beholding Glory

Words To Live By

Be Strong 
Be Courageous
Why? Because

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

Thank you, God, for breathing life into ancient words that still speak to us today. 

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays

and

How To Overcome Discouragement

 It is easy to get discouraged because life is hard, and what you hear in the news is mostly grim and unsettling. And we often feel like we are fighting our battles alone. Until we’re reminded that we’re not.

We are not alone.

Here are some great articles I stumbled onto this week that encouraged me and I hope they do the same for you.

Even the Sandwiches Mock Me by Deidra Manning
I Am a Turtle by Sharon @ Sharon Sharing God