Thursday, July 17, 2014

Be You, Bravely.

I have no fancy or eloquent way to begin this post.  Just this raw, unedited thought: I have been feeling ugly lately.  Unworthy.  Less than.  Utterly imperfect.  And these feelings have affected me more than ever before.  Normally I am able to move past them, knowing they are lies trying to tear me down, but this week that just hasn't been the case. And honestly, it really comes as no surprise that all of this has hit me so hard just a few days after watching this video.

I am all too familiar with the fact that we as women struggle with body image and self-worth.  I have grown up dealing with these feelings of insecurity since I was around ten, and now, almost fifteen years later, I am still dealing with them head on. Between the number on the scale and dreaded swimsuit shopping and zits that pop up outta nowhere and going to the gym and the stupid concept of thigh gap and everything in between, it's hard to not let the lies get to us.  I wish I could tell you that it gets easier with age, but it doesn't (or at least hasn't yet).  With age does come wisdom, however, and thus the ability to better distinguish a truth from a lie.  These lies - that we are ugly, overweight, unwanted, not enough, worthless, untalented, hopeless - they are just that: lies.  They are things that we hear, read, and even begin to believe, but they are not the truth.

The truth is that you and I, we are beautiful, just as we are.  Our flaws, our imperfections, the things that we wish we could change… all beautiful.  Even if we don't always love them, they are what make you you and me me.  Perfect in our imperfection, y'all, and fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  

Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb.  I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking!  Body and soul, I am marvelously made!  I worship in adoration - what a creation!  You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.  Like an open book, you watched me grow… all the stages of my life were spread out before you.  The days of my life prepared before I'd even lived one day."

Replacing the lies we hear with the truth can be so much more powerful than we often believe (and even more so when those truths are coming straight from the Word of God).  We often become what we believe we are, so let's get after it together!  Rebuke the lies and tell them to get behind us.  They don't belong in our heads, and most certainly not in our hearts, so let's ditch them on the side of the road and keep moving forward in truth.

And when we are feeling beautiful and good about ourselves, we do not need to be ashamed of it.  If you or I want to document that moment by taking a selfie, we shouldn't feel guilty about it.  You heard me: #longlivetheselfie.  You are beautiful (and that will remain true regardless of how many "likes" you get, by the way) and may we not forget that real, true, lasting beauty isn't external anyway; it radiates from within.  Love yourself, flaws and all, and then you'll best be able to love others around you.  And that's what this life is really all about anyway, isn't it?  Loving others well.

So get it girl.  Rebuke the lies.  Take that selfie.  Love with abandon.  And be you, bravely.

- - -

And while you're at it, be sure to check out this sweet friend's soon to be non-profit designed to help young people see, and ultimately believe, the truth amongst the lies: Unveiled Campaign.

 Then, snap a picture and use the hashtag #unveilyourselfie (mine can be found on Instagram).


Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Thing About Freedom.

"No one took the life of Jesus.  He gave it and, by dying, rescued our lives.  He refused deliverance and relief so He would be both to us."
-Lisa Bevere, Girls with Swords

Yesterday as myself and most of America celebrated Independence Day, I couldn't help but reflect on how grateful I am to live in a country where we are free to live where we want to, work where we want to, and worship the One, true, living God (unlike other parts of the world where horrible persecutions are currently taking place, like Africa and the Middle East).  But even more than that, I reflected on how fortunate I am to be truly free in Christ.  To know, in the deepest parts of my soul, that I am no longer bound to sin and death because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  By His grace, He gave us eternal freedom with that act on the cross, and yet we often cheapen it, using it as an excuse to do whatever we want to, as if He died for no other reason than for us to "not go to hell" (when, really, He wants to give us a greater and more adventurous life here on earth).

"Cheap grace is the idea that 'grace' did it all for me so I do not need to change my lifestyle.  The believer who accepts the idea of 'cheap grace' thinks he can continue to live like the rest of the world.  Instead of following Christ in a radical way, the Christian lost in cheap  grace thinks he can simply enjoy the consolations of his grace."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Uh, anyone else a little convicted by that one? I don't really have any deep theological thoughts beyond that quote (I mean, it's Bonhoeffer) so I will simply leave you with the song that inspired this post.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Refine & Reclaim.

This verse has been on repeat for me lately.  The Lord has been showing me more and more about His purposes in this season of life and I am really excited about what He is fixin' to do.  In May, I very clearly felt the Lord reveal to me that I was entering into a long season of refinement where we would be slowly removing the things from my life and heart that are hindering me from fully being who He wants me to be.  Exciting and challenging times, y'all.

On top of that, this past Sunday I attended a worship night at my church, during which God brought forth the word RECLAIM.

re·claim :  to get back something that was lost or taken away; to restore, recover, or rescue.

What a loaded word to have declared over you, right?  As I have been praying about what it all might mean, I had a vision that is two-fold: me reclaiming God as my first love and getting rid of all distractions, and God reclaiming every part of me as His - mind, body, soul, etc. - while also reclaiming His truth over the lies that I hear and sometimes believe.

This is a sweet time of life, friends, and I am excited to share more with you as time goes on and the Lord reveals more of Himself and His plans.  I am ready for the more that He has for me in this season and ready to live and love more like Jesus, and I hope that you all can experience a similar satisfaction in your walk.  Be prayerful, be available, and be obedient.  He provides in ways unseen all of the time and is bursting at the seams for us to experience His abundance in our every day (John 10:10).


Monday, June 16, 2014

Heaven Minded.

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven...
to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. 
Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else,
but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"
-Jonathan Edwards

Yesterday afternoon, as I sat outside in the humid Tennessee summertime with an iced coffee in hand, I talked with one of my sweet friends back in California about the idea of "career," of what we want to do with our lives and how that may (or may not) play into our profit-making work.  Career: it's an intimidating word, isn't it?  As someone close to approaching 25, that word makes me antsy.  I mean, I personally don't have any idea of what my career - life long work - is or should be, and I honestly do not think I am alone in this.  At all.

Our culture shoves the idea of career down our throats, telling us that we need to have a 5, 10, and 20 year plan for our lives and our work.  But is that really the most important thing?  Like really, if we were to look down at our lives 50 years from now, would our plans really matter as much as we think?   As young people, I think that we often get caught up in trying to "figure our lives out" when, as followers of Christ, that really isn't what God wants us to do.  He wants us to focus our time, energy, and attention on figuring Him out; growing to know Him more deeply and intimately for who He tells us that He is through His Word.  No, we will never have that fully figured out since we are really only gaining glimpses of Him on earth, but the pursuit is what He wants of us: to know Him and make Him known.  We can go ahead and plan all we want to, but does that really matter?  In my own experiences, I have found that when I make plans (which, y'all, I could plan my little heart out all day, every day if I tried), things almost always fall through or happen in a completely different way that I never could have planned for.  The truth is that my perspective is so small and so limited, and thus so are my plans.  God's perspective, though, is so grand, so strategic, and so beyond what we can conceive, we can rest assured that His plans are greater for us and for His Kingdom, and will come to fruition with or without our compulsive planning.  Amen, amen.  Thank ya, Jesus.

The idea of career in the Christian life almost seems irrelevant to me, and maybe the best thing we can do is simply be open to following Jesus where He leads in us in work, and in life, and to be obedient in those places.  So my career?  Heck if I know.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, my only plan is to know God and to make Him known, to love, without warrant, every person He puts into my path, and to love Him more than anything else.*  I want to be Kingdom-focused and heaven-minded, sensitive to His Spirit's prompting in each season of life, and to trust Him to work out all of the details.  Because He can, and He will.

*Sentence adapted from Jennie Allen's Restless, p. 122