I see you. The girl with too-thick eyeliner and overly contoured cheekbones. Your clothes reveal precious secrets about your body. The pictures you share with the world show a beautiful girl who doesn’t quite believe it, but you desperately try to convince everyone else that you do. Everything about your life revolves around getting him to notice you and then stick around. You compromise who you really are if it means the guy you’re crushing on likes you back. When he looks your way and smiles, you know he must be The One. He gets you. He says the things you need to hear. He completes you.
I see you. The woman who never has to share the remote when it’s time to binge on Netflix. You fill up your free time with all the things you’re into because you can. You schedule weekly girl’s nights and countless first dates, but long for the familiarity and companionship of a spouse. The image you project to the world is one of an independent and confident woman – and you are – it would just be nice to have that special someone to walk beside you. To fill the empty spaces in your heart. To help complete your life.
I see you. The wife who dotes on her husband, treating him like royalty. Your daily desire is to meet his needs above all others. Your social calendar suffers, but if his clothes are clean and his belly is full you don’t mind so much. To outsiders you appear to be the perfect wife, but you humbly brush aside their praise. Serving your man is the least you can do – after all, he’s a keeper! You’re so lucky to have him. You tell yourself it’s ok to obsess over his life because he’s seamlessly completed yours.
I see your striving, hurting, longing heart. I get why you’re tired of being single. I know how easy it is to pour yourself out for the one you love. I just wish you could see that it’s not a boy or a man you need.
No, he doesn’t complete you.
But Jesus can. He will. He does.
The Enemy has made you believe that everything you need can be found in an earthly relationship. The truth is, no relationship will ever come close to what it’s meant to be until your relationship with Christ has become the most important thing.
You see, I was that girl. Riddled with insecurities, I had daddy issues that left gaps in my heart. I met a guy who swept me off my feet and quickly became the axis on which my world revolved. To keep him interested, I morphed into a chameleon of sorts, molding myself into what I thought my boyfriend wanted me to be. I felt a constant need to be in this person’s presence so I let my friendships suffer. I lost interest in my own life and instead forced my way into every detail of his. He tolerated this for a while, but eventually the pressure I put on him to be my everything was just too much for him to handle. He broke up with me and utterly shattered my entire world. I didn’t want to be alone, but there I was. The pain I felt was magnified by the fact that I didn’t know who I was without him.
Months later, in desperation, I cried out to God. Literally. In my dorm room I crumpled into a pathetic heap and wept. I was suffocating myself on heartbreak and I could not bear one more minute of the intensity of it all. I opened my bible to Colossians, and there I read a verse that rocked me to my core:
“and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
In that moment, I began to realize my mistake. I had misplaced my affections. The ardor that my soul had been created to lavish on my Savior was being directed at a mere boy instead. What a tragedy! All this time I had been essentially worshipping my boyfriend and neglecting the Lord.
If you find yourself relating to my story, I’m here to tell you that Jesus Christ is better. If your identity is wrapped up in another human being, that relationship can never be healthy. Until you truly believe that you are a uniquely created, valuable, cherished daughter of King Jesus, you will continue looking for someone else to make you whole.
Just as He did for me, Christ tells you in His own words the truth: you are complete in Him. God alone holds the key that unlocks the deepest desires of your soul. He knows you better than anyone. He loves you so deeply and perfectly. Nothing else compares!
When someone breaks your heart, Jesus steps in to heal every wound.
When loneliness overwhelms you, Jesus offers comfort and friendship.
When you fix your eyes on Jesus, He breathes new life into your marriage.
Daughter, we’re all incomplete. We’re all looking for love and acceptance – it’s just way easier to access than we dare to believe. My prayer for you today is that you will find your wholeness and identity in God alone. That you will let Him complete you as only He can.
While reading in my Bible the other day, I stumbled across a verse that struck me. I’m sure I’ve read this verse many times before, but on this particular day, it pierced my heart afresh. It was Judges 2:10:
“Another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. “
Just to give some context – the generation coming of age in Judges 2 follows the generation who lived through the parting of the Red Sea, wandered with Moses in the desert, saw God as a pillar of fire and a cloud, partook in Joshua’s victory at Jericho…in short, a highly unique and privileged generation to have experienced a Holy God in such an intimate way. And yet, this generation failed to pass on to their children and grandchildren all the wonders they had seen.
This up-and-coming generation of God’s people did not learn to appreciate the miracles He performed. They did not know the Lord.
Why didn’t they know?
What communication gap caused the elders in this community to fail to mention their personal experiences with a real God who made His presence fully known? How did an entire generation come of age without hearing these compelling stories of survival and victory? Maybe it’s because the adults in the room were too busy complaining about current circumstances or trying to forge their own path – one without the Father. Perhaps they were so wrapped up in the drudgery of daily life that they just forgot to tell the younger ones in their midst who couldn’t remember or who likely weren’t even born yet all the incredible things God had done for them.
So the younger generation grew up without hearing about God. They did not know Him. They had no reason to follow Him.
In our modern society, we might not experience seas parting or pillars of fire. But in each of our lives, God has been and is continuing to work. As believers, we have all uniquely encountered a REAL Heavenly Father – and we each have a story to tell. Failing to recognize and articulate how He weaves the pieces of our days together is failing to raise up the next generation to love and seek Him for themselves. It’s our responsibility to pass on to our children the story God has written in our own lives. They need to hear of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His love. If they only hear complaints and grumblings…if they see us chasing after other gods besides Him, how could the next generation possibly want to follow Christ?
How are you representing your savior to the youth around you? Are you inspiring them to worship with awe the One who worked miracles in your life, or are you pushing them towards idols of this world with your misrepresentation or avoidance of talking about Him altogether?
Let’s be a generation of believers committed to unabashedly proclaiming our devotion to and worship of the God of the universe. Let there be no room for doubt in the minds and hearts of the ones who will follow after us. Let’s introduce them to the God we know!
May this generation be a living witness to
His majestic mercy,
His glorious grace,
His time-tested truth,
His pervasive power, and
His limitless love.
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Love shows up in a friend.
In the ones you know you can rely on and depend
Whether you’re in the middle of joy or deep sorrow
They don’t stay away or wait until tomorrow
They show up with coffee, a meal, a listening ear
They speak words of truth and of life without fear
With these you don’t have to pretend
Love shows up in a friend.
Love shows up when a stranger
Shows disregard for their own potential danger
And lifts those up who are living on the fringe
The homeless, the orphan, those who make the self-righteous cringe
They offer peace and hope to all whose paths they intersect
They protect, give respect, have an eternal effect
These people are the real world changers
And to God it’s no small thing; its major
Love shows up in a stranger.
Love showed up in a stable.
Not in some nursery; not in a cradle
That night when His life here so humbly began
Was part of a grander, divinely-breathed plan
To give His life; to save fallen man
To gather His children – no matter how far they ran
This baby, so often mislabeled,
Was the One to do what we are unable
(It’s not just some Christmas time fable!)
Love showed up in a stable.
Love showed up on a cross
He suffered our pain; He endured our loss
For three bitter days He fought against Hell
Bringing freedom to all bound by sin’s prison cell
He arose triumphant – He loves us so well –
Of that kind of Savior we should always retell!
Jesus is the bridge we can now walk across
Love showed up on a cross.
So now in this season of giving
Let each of us examine the life we’ve been living
If it’s truly in Christ we’ve placed our trust –
Then let love show up in us!
I’m a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman. I was southern-born and raised, and I currently live in the heart of Bible Belt country. I’m an organ donor, mother, wife, Christian, and an introvert. And there’s a good chance that as you read the previous statements you have begun forming an internal opinion about me.
I, like you, have been labeled by things I cannot change or control, like the region I was born into or the color of my skin. Then there are the labels I chose and I love, like being a mom or trusting in Jesus Christ.
I was an extremely sheltered child. My parents exposed me to plenty of scripture, but my interactions with people from other cultures and ethnicities were limited. When it came time for me to fly the nest and go to college, I was most comfortable with people who looked, talked, and thought like I did. I felt safe with “my kind of people.”
It wasn’t until I was twenty-four years old that my eyes were opened to the treasure it is to know and befriend those from cultures unlike my own. With my husband, I lived on a Caribbean island for two years, followed by another two years spent living on Long Island, New York. I was a newlywed and a young school teacher experiencing life on two islands, both melting pots, that shattered so many preconceived notions I didn’t even know I had formed. So many new things going on in my life at once!
Our roommates and closest friends for those four years influenced me tremendously. The families of the students I taught gave me glimpses into their world and I eagerly soaked it all in. The children and their parents even re-defined the concept of grace to my legalistic mind. God used so many people in those four years to chisel away at my label giving, self-protecting heart, forever impacting my life.
But here’s the thing…while my soul was beginning to be awakened, I still wasn’t fully awake yet.
Not once in those years when I saw her every day did I ask my Muslim roommate what it was like for her growing up. I don’t remember ever sitting across from her and genuinely making an effort to get to know her or her roots better. I didn’t take time to ask my precious students’ families what life was like in Asia or Africa – or even Europe for that matter – before they made the move to New York.
All the affection and interest I had for my new friends never made it past my lips. Although intrigued by the different cultures that surrounded me, I still warmed myself by the fire of self absorption and found shelter and refuge in my own little bubble. My southern comfort zone and my severe insecurities prevented me from looking outside myself for even a few moments to make connections. I wasted opportunity after opportunity to form relationships that went beyond the shallow and superficial small talk.
As I have reflected back on that time, I wish I would have done things differently. I’ve had to ask myself some uncomfortable and REAL questions…
What is most precious to you and God?
Is it rules and legalism or relationships and love?
Has your pride engulfed your ability to be humble?
Do you value tradition or seek truth?
Would you rather argue to be right or listen to gain new perspectives?
Are your words dripping in hostility or bathed in understanding?
Have you sought self-preservation over loving your neighbor?
Who have you written off with a label?
Couldn’t you wrap them up with love by pursuing a sincere interest in their lives instead?
I often ask myself these questions trying to redeem the time I wasted, trying to make right where I missed the mark.
God and people – the two most important things on this planet. It may sound cliche, but I’m going to write it anyway. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
If you’re struggling to understand what exactly that looks like, you can take a look at the greatest example who ever walked the earth: Jesus – God in the flesh. He lived a life of sacrifice, daring to venture into the world of those nobody else even noticed. He spent zero time pushing a political agenda. He never responded out of fear, hatred, or self promotion. He responded with intentional love focused solely on PEOPLE. He did not live unto Himself; instead He lived to die for us. The ultimate servant.
Today we are watching people hurt each other with no desire to love them or understand them. From my experience, insult has never been an effective form of persuasion. But Love has. Let’s follow the example given to us from God himself. Let’s SERVE one another and seek to know, understand, and love others…just as Christ loved us. There’s no better way to show people who God is than to live as He lived. That’s the whole point isn’t it?
Will you join me in breaking through those self protecting walls? Let’s open our lives up to be vessels and let God use us to show others who he REALLY is.
photos by Sara Torbett
Sometimes I have good ideas and other times I have absolutely ridiculous ones. Like the time I decided to take my two small children to dinner at a sit-down restaurant when my husband was out of town.
Autism affects my 6 year old son’s mind in such a way that it can be both a brilliant gift and a debilitating hindrance, depending on the day. No matter how much we prepare, sometimes something so insignificant can completely set him off. He sees a fly. His peanut butter sandwich has slightly too much peanut butter. The lights are too bright. The soda machine is too loud. Because of this, we live our lives trying to anticipate all of these hidden factors, but it doesn’t always work. This was one of those times.
As soon as we sat down with our food, I immediately had to clutch my plate so it didn’t get tossed. His face turned bright red and he screamed at such a high pitch I could see the people around us wincing. He stiffened out and slid under the table. He jammed his fingers in the cracks in the wall. He tossed his toy across the restaurant. I ran to get it as I barked at my daughter, “Go get some to-go boxes!” I scraped food off our plates while simultaneously trying to keep him from clawing his own cheeks with his fingernails.
I gathered up all of our things, attempted to balance our food and pick him up at the same time, all while trying desperately to avoid eye contact with all of the people who I assumed were judging my parenting because he looks so “normal”. I was so tired of living life in this constant state of embarrassment, seclusion, and exhaustion. So very tired.
Then it happened. A hand reached out and gently touched my shoulder.
“Hey, I just want you to know this happens to all of us and it’s ok. It’s usually her!” She pointed to her small daughter sitting at the table. She gave me a warm, reassuring smile and my eyes filled with tears. I squeaked out a “thank you”, hung my head, and bolted to the car.
All the way home I couldn’t stop thinking of the kindness of that woman. She was a stranger who didn’t know me, but sympathized with my situation and wanted me to know I wasn’t alone. It meant so much more to me than the quick “thank you” I muttered and I regretted that was all I was able to offer in return at that moment.
How many times have I had the same opportunity to reach out and touch a shoulder and I’ve let it go by? How many times have I missed the opportunity to say some of the most important words a fellow frustrated, worn out woman can hear?
You are not alone.
I love the Message version of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 .
It says, “Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out to the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.”
I know that night in the restaurant, I sure did feel like an exhausted straggler who needed to be pulled to my feet. All it took was a little encouragement from a stranger to remind me that there are probably more people looking at my parenting struggles with empathy than with judgment.
I hope that I can open my eyes to the other stragglers around me and have the courage to place my hand on their shoulders. I pray that with God’s direction, I can be brave enough to pull them to their feet by offering a kind word, a helping hand, or even just a reassuring smile. If we truly are the hands and feet of God, we must show the world that He is good by taking care of each other when we feel that nudge in our hearts telling us that it’s needed.
If you feel like you are the exhausted straggler today and no one is reaching out, God sees you and He will pull you to your feet. Hand Him your weariness, your problems, your frustrations, and your worries and He will carry them for you.
I showed up to a get-together with a covered dish and some juicy news to share. It was an opportunity to shock my friends and therefore receive some odd sense of satisfaction, attention, and praise for revealing such scandalous information. Before I could get it out, one of the ladies asked,
“Who has some good gossip?”
Now I was the one who was shocked! We can’t “gossip”. That’s so sinful! How dare she just come out and say that!
At least my friend wasn’t in denial about it. She called it what it was. She named it and it made me think twice about what I was about to reveal. Good southern Christian girls like me don’t like to name our sin because acknowledgement brings that uninvited guest named Conviction to spoil our party.
Gossip seeps its’ way into my perfectly innocent conversations, even ones that start out to be godly and life-giving. It is anything but harmless and we have to stop.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein
on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
I didn’t recognize gossip as a problem in my life until my own filthy laundry became the hot topic. When people have been whispering about you, it is beyond hurtful and embarrassing. It permanently damages friendships and deteriorates trust. It’s anything but harmless.
God, help me not to harm others with my desire for entertaining conversation.
Being highly experienced in this area, I’ve narrowed gossip down to four types so it will be easier to recognize the next time it sneaks into your conversation.
1. Secret Telling Gossip
“Promise you won’t tell.”
Even if you are dying to spill someone else’s secret and you know you can trust your best friend, it’s still gossip. If it’s not YOUR business, keep it to yourself.
“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
therefore do not associate with a gossip.” -Proverbs 20:19
2. Prodding Gossip
“How’s Sarah? I heard she’s going through a tough time…”
If you are on the receiving end of a gossipy loaded question, you are not required to answer! People will respect that you politely refuse to give up information and you will prove yourself to be trustworthy.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer,
contention quiets down.” -Proverbs 26:20
3. Angry Gossip
“Her marriage is falling apart, so she’s taking it out on me!”
Someone hurts you so you tell others all of the unattractive things you know about her life. Don’t let your short term emotions cause long term effects. You will regret it later.
“Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another.” -Proverbs 25:9
4. Concerned Friend Gossip
“You need to pray for our friend because you won’t believe what happened…”
Of course we need to pray for and support each other. Just always make sure to keep your motives and your sincerity in check when you reveal anything personal about someone else’s life.
As you go back to your workplace, play dates, and PTA meetings, keep in mind what God’s Word says about gossip. Learn to recognize it, call it by name, and put a stop to it. Don’t let this “innocent” sin creep its’ way into what could otherwise be sacred spaces of trust, encouragement and friendship.
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.” –Psalm 141:3
It was a Friday afternoon in February of 2000 when my life suddenly changed forever.
I’ll never forget the phone call that came after business hours. I was in my office with coworkers and picked up after the first ring. The voice at the other end of the line was my children’s father, my ex-husband.
His voice was filled with concern as he said, “Sharon, you need to sit down.” Of course I didn’t as I recall…and then he said bluntly as if he had to say it before he couldn’t, “Chris is dead.”
I remember being stunned and confused about the words before they sank in, wondering why he would say such a horrible thing. I even remember asking, “Are you sure?” which I know was my mind begging for one more moment of not knowing. My knees weakened as he finished telling me what he knew about what had happened.
He had been out of town on business and upon returning, found our oldest son alone and gone from this world. Mercifully, gratefully, he had gone home to be with Jesus and that ray of Hope would be the shred of life that would survive while my heart and mind pulled on a shroud of deep black darkness.
The next few days I lived the nightmare of my greatest fear since becoming a mother, losing one of my boys. My heart was filled with infinitely more pain than my fear of it ever had. I isolated myself most of the time as family and friends came to the house offering condolences but I wanted to be alone…in my darkness. Even though I took comfort in knowing Chris was a believer and I would be reunited with him in heaven, my mother’s heart was aching and struggling with accepting he was gone from this earth.
Since Chris was an otherwise healthy 24 year old, his father insisted on an autopsy. The following
Monday was a holiday, so in short the funeral was postponed until almost a week later. I’m not sure how, but it was arranged and attended by more than 800 people I was told.
I can recall only bleak snapshots of that miserable week of waiting…my dad sitting in my living room in the navy tapestry wingback staring blankly overcome by grief, food piled up on every countertop and bulging from the refrigerator, and our house busy with well meaning guests. Then I woke up in the emergency room after blacking out for an extended period of time. I remember hoping to see Chris one more time and for some strange reason thought he was at the hospital. In times of deep sorrow and shock, your mind takes strange pathways.
In the following month, there were many beautiful cards, (I still have every one of them), visits and frequent phone calls of consolation. I returned to work way too soon because I didn’t know what else to do. Sorrow and emptiness became my new painful normal.
Grief is exhausting…not only emotionally but physically as well.
I often tried to pray, but the prayers never seemed to make it above the ceiling. Even though Chris’s dad was very angry at God for the untimely death of our son, for some reason, I never was. But I couldn’t feel His Presence.
Weeks turned into months and months into two years. Cards and visits had long since stopped. Everyone had resumed their own lives. The cruel emotions of hurt and self pity were added to the suffering because I felt so alone in my sorrow.
Sadness. Loneliness. Fear. Dread. Pain. Despair. PURE DARKNESS…EMPTINESS.
And then one Sunday morning we were getting ready for church. I was weary and worn thin from the weight of my grief. I had prayed to die so many times, but this morning, I literally looked toward heaven and cried out loud in total desperation, “God, please replace this horrible darkness and grief with some kind of joy!”
That morning, as I sat in the comfortable stadium seat of our church with hundreds of others, the message was entitled…
“Where Do You Turn When Life’s Not Working?”
I don’t know if there was a single other person in that congregation who needed to hear those words more than I did. I felt as if they had been eternally penned for me. I knew in the depths of my soul that it was God’s answer to my desperate plea earlier that morning, delivered by His obedient servant, a pastor I hardly even knew.
The message clearly charted the course of the healing power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As the words washed over me, I experienced a lifting in my soul. That day I actually felt for the first time the warmth of His Loving Arms enveloping me. I saw a beam of His Radiant Light shining from the far end of the heinous darkness in which I had hidden for the past two years. I saw Him…I felt Hope.
It’s not that I had never heard the things that were presented in that timely message. It’s that I had not chosen them as my foundational truths. I had spent a lifetime of self will ignoring the very thing that sustains us through times like this.
God loves us and is constantly pursuing His independent self willed creation.
He already knows every detail of your struggle and is patiently waiting for you to turn to Him for help.
Even though I had experienced salvation at the age of eight, and had been in church most of my life, I confess I had not invested in my relationship with my Heavenly Father and had grown very little spiritually. My quiet times were never very quiet and those spent in His Word were hurried and rushed. There is no wonder why my faith was so shallow…
I trusted Him with my eternity through my salvation experience but thought I could handle the “living on planet earth” on my own!
Simply put, when faced with the most difficult challenge of my life, I had chosen darkness instead of His Healing Light!
During those two years, many times, I had begged God to let me die, to be free of the pain. But He had chosen not to answer those misplaced prayers.
He did not send His Son to die so that we would be left in darkness!
The awakening that day was only the beginning of my healing. Over time, the hole in my heart was graciously being filled with His Truth and Promises as I spent time with Him, meditating on His Word. Leaning on Him for my strength and direction was infinitely the better choice…it was filled with hope and the blossoming of joy and new life.
One day as I was in His Word, He gently reminded me that He had also lost His Son and He knew exactly how I felt.
And there it was, the very essence of Truth that sponged up the last ounce of my self pity. How could I have ever felt alone? The Creator of the universe, my Heavenly Father, knew how I felt. He had never forsaken me. I had NEVER been alone.
The realization of His intimacy flooded over me! I finally knew in my heart that throughout every moment of the journey since that Friday afternoon phone call, He had been right by my side. I had missed the miracle of it because of my foolish self will.
I realized His desire for me to live was a blessing. He was not finished with my story. He wanted me to share it and His message of hope with the world!
Would I have ever wished my son would die? Of course not, no mother would. But I will tell you that had I not gone through the devastation of losing him, I may never have ever known the glorious riches of walking with my Lord and Savior!
Someone said, “He never wastes a hurt.”
So be encouraged no matter what you may face, THE God of the universe loves you. So much so that He sent His only Son to die for you. There is nothing too big or bad for His sacrificial Love to cover. You only have to trust and receive His beautiful Gift of Salvation.
Life is full of crossroads and choices…choose life! Let Him lead you into His Marvelous Light!
He is a good good Father and His Mercies are new every morning!
In the past fourteen years, I still grieve over Chris but I have also experienced more Joys than I could have ever imagined because I opened my heart up to Him. Please don’t miss it! He will give you joy in your mourning too. Let Him have that chance. Open your heart up to Him…and ask Him.
Dear our precious Heavenly Father,
We thank you for your love, your faithfulness, and your son Jesus who died for us. We thank you for the person who is reading this post. I pray for the one who is struggling to open her heart up to you in her time of pain and grief. Please soften her heart to want to know you. Give her a hunger for your word. Give her your peace, your rest, and your comfort as she prays and cries out to you. Give her a humble and open heart that is ready to receive your joy and blessings and lean into you every day so that as you carry her, she finds her rest in you. Amen.
You hear the whispers over and over…
YOU. ARE. NOT. GOOD ENOUGH.
It’s a continual theme that rings through your thoughts like the tune of an annoying song on replay…It’s never ending and you can’t seem to make it stop.
Maybe that feeling of you are “not good enough” comes from past mistakes. Maybe it comes from a parent who treated you as though you were never enough. Maybe it comes from a particular statement made by a teacher, a friend, a close family member – a statement that you have believed to be truth ever since.
It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, what matters is that TODAY you recognize it for what it is….an ABSOLUTE LIE.
I lived in this cycle for years. I could not seem to move past this. I claimed it and received it as truth in my life. Plain and simple(in my mind)- I was NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It didn’t matter how many people would compliment me, encourage me or even affirm that I was, in fact, good enough. I had made a comfy little prison cell in my mind where I sat and replayed this lie over and over. This cell had become my home, my truth, my comfort. Even though it was false, there was security within those walls.
Then one day, I remember weeping in the midst of a bible study because God had wrecked my heart with a ramming revelation of His word. Those lies began to fade – it was a revelation to my soul! Satan had whispered long enough and it was time to clean house.
I tore down the ugly wallpaper renouncing the lies that I had believed for so long and replaced it with HIS TRUTH. If you have ever used wallpaper, then you know how hard it can be to remove! It’s the same with replacing your thoughts. REMOVE and REPLACE. We have to renew our minds with the word of God.
It is now a place of FREEDOM to linger in the beauty of God’s word…His truth about who I am because the captive has been SET FREE!
I am His…
And so are YOU.
Listen to me dear sister – the place where you struggle the most in not feeling good enough is a guaranteed place where God wants to use you most for HIS glory! The enemy absolutely knows that and he wants to cripple you and render you to be ineffective for the kingdom of God.
Know God’s truth and what he says about you! Take a good hard look at that pretty cell you are sitting in and realize that it’s NOT really that pretty at all…If you look close enough, you will see the cracks, the dirt, the imperfections and ugliness because it is covered in lies. There is NOWHERE in scripture that tells us that we are NOT good enough, it reveals the opposite.
You are GOOD ENOUGH because Jesus says you are.
HE. CHOSE. YOU.
You did not choose him(John 15:16). AND…He would choose you in your messed up, sinful, not feeling good enough, self again and again. It was and is HIS purpose to set the CAPTIVES FREE!
Leave that cell changed and renewed by the WORD of GOD and ONLY return as a reminder of the freedom that took place!
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
Jesus says you are.
I have been a pastor’s wife for 19 years. I was a young 19 years old when I married, and my husband accepted his first pastorate. Looking back, I now realize I knew nothing. Seriously, nothing. I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husband’s side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years.
Throughout those early years in ministry I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. And in order for people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly, and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles. And God forbid they know any of my sin. It was exhausting and lonely and I was stuck.
This past Sunday, I taught with my husband about marriage. We shared openly about our own struggles, and afterward, so many people thanked us for being vulnerable. I was actually surprised at the ease with which we shared some difficult stuff about our past. But this has not always been my story. God has been so faithful to draw me out, change my heart, and in the process prove His faithfulness in so many lives.
When we left Arkansas to move to southern California to be part of Saddleback Church, for the first time, I was not the lead pastor’s wife. In fact, I was one of many pastors’ wives. There was no pressure. No eyes upon me. I could slip in and out of church with no one even knowing I was a pastor’s wife. God used this time in my life to show me a better way.
He surrounded Brandon and I with a small group of people that showed us what authenticity looked like. They weren’t “doing” church. They had real problems with real hurts and relied on a real God for help. They also relied on each other. This was foreign to us, and life changing. We left Southern California to plant Grace Hills Church back in Arkansas, and we came back to “the natural state” different people.
We were determined that we would share our lives with whomever God asked – not just the pretty part of our lives, but the hard stuff. Honestly, the first year of planting was one of the hardest years of our marriage. The enemy was seeking to steal, kill and destroy, and some days he seemed victorious.
It would have been easy to pretend that all was well, and most days it was really tempting. Being real is hard. It’s risky, and sometimes painful. There were days I begged God to let me go back to being the girl that nobody really knew. Many times, sitting with someone who was hurting in their own marriage, I felt the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, “share your story.” Seriously, God? I. Don’t. Want. To. But I did. I shared my weakness. I shared my pain and my sin and then I shared the grace that covers me and the redemption of a Savior who brought life and hope to a hurting marriage.
The more I opened up, the easier it became. The veil of shame was lifted and Satan no longer had a grip on those dark places. They were pushed into the light, and there I stood… vulnerable, and covered in grace.
I will say this: I don’t share everything with everybody. I wait and I listen to the Holy Spirit. I have surrendered my life and my story to God to use as He wants to. So I walk in obedience. I desire to be real. I believe Jesus was real, and I desperately want to be more like Him.
Sharing my life – the good, the bad and the ugly – with hurting people has been one of my greatest joys, and I won’t ever go back. I have moments when I’m tempted to retreat, but I reflect on Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (HCSB).
My people – the ones I do life with, and the ones I’ve yet to meet – are dear to me. Precious in my heart. Nope. I won’t ever go back.