Gifts in hands and smiles on our faces, we made our way down the five filthy, broken steps that led to the basement apartment door. It didn’t smell good down there. Around us we could see broken windows patched with tape, and someone upstairs was yelling. We knocked on the door and heard Kathy softly say, “Come on in.” It was her birthday today and she was 12 years old, my middle daughter’s closest friend from 6th grade. She sat on a faded, old couch by herself, all dressed up with ribbons in her hair, clutching a small stack of paper plates, napkins and cups. “Happy Birthday, Kathy!!!” we chanted as we walked in slowly. Something was wrong . . . she was looking away. It was too quiet. “Is anyone else coming to the party? Where is your mom and dad?” She sighed and replied, “Dad is at work and my Mom has locked herself in her room for the past three hours . . . she is not coming out. I don’t know what to do.”
The look on Kathy’s face broke my heart as I quickly brainstormed what we could do to help. Would you like us to help set up? The plates and napkins you have are so cute! Why don’t we have the party at the park across the street? Are the neighbor girls coming? Would you like me to try and talk with your mom? Mom wasn’t answering . . . she has had mental and physical challenges for years and is addicted to pain killers. I realized very quickly that there was no one to set up Kathy’s 12th birthday party. Kathy had tidied up the tiny, one bedroom apartment. Kathy had blown up the balloons that were in the corner of the room. There was no cake, and no presents except the ones we had brought. Kathy was an only child, Dad was at work and wouldn’t be home for hours.
Lord, Lord, where are you?
Lord, Lord, where are you? How could you let this happen to this precious child of yours? Why haven’t you saved her from this sad, lonely day? Don’t you see what is happening here? My mind took me back to when I was 12 years old, all wrapped up in hormones and self-esteem issues . . . insecure and awkward but celebrated and blessed in a warm, loving family. Lord, what should I do? She is beautiful, I thought as we walked outside to claim a table at the park. I am so impressed with her – so poised, so independent, so intelligent, so amazing in the midst of such a horrible situation. My daughter said something funny and Kathy’s face lit up in a smile. Her contagious, high pitched laughter could be heard throughout the park. I complimented her on the dress she was wearing and she said that a neighbor had outgrown it and given it to her. It fit her perfectly.
Why don’t you kids play games while I save the table? I suggested. A couple of neighbor girls had come over, so they played every game they could think of that didn’t require any materials. I put the table cloth on the obscenity-ridden picnic table and set out the plates and cups. There were some cheese puffs and soda, and I thought well – it would have to be enough. I thought . . . should I run to the store? Should I go and buy a cake? But I was the only adult supervising at a park in a rough neighborhood . . . no, I had to stay put. While the kids played, a man drove up, screamed at a child across the street, whipped him with his belt and drove off. The kids from the apartments didn’t even look – they didn’t even notice really. Lord? Where are you?
When I heard Kathy’s laughter again my question was answered. He WAS there. In an impossible situation he had provided a birthday party for this precious 12 year old girl. He had provided a beautiful dress for her to wear, lovely gifts for her to open and enjoy, a loving adult to supervise and encourage, good friends to laugh, play with and sing the birthday song, a green, grassy park in which to play, and a warm, sunny summer day with no afternoon rain showers in sight. Best of all He had somehow provided Kathy with what she needed in her heart to go on . . . the strength to persevere in the midst of an incredibly challenging home life that would likely not be getting better any time soon. I marveled that she was able to set aside her earlier disappointment and sorrow and completely enjoy the happy moments at the park that day with me, my daughters and the neighbor girls she had only just met a week before. Christ was there . . . His presence was as real as the sun in the sky.
What does this story have to do with food, body image and Thin Within? Well, not a whole lot really . . . except maybe for one thing. We live in a broken world, full of disappointment, grief, poverty, injury, illness, painful relationships, unemployment . . . you name it – it’s all around us. Most of us have issues with food and our body image because we are struggling to deal with the difficult things of this world and wondering if there really is a God out there big enough to handle them. So here is the good news . . . the absolutely fabulous news!!! There really IS a God that loves each one of us and desires to be in an intimate, personal relationship with us. In the midst of all of the crazy messes of this world God is there, ready to love us, guide us, and walk with us through the mess . . . but not until we ask. Jesus has shown himself to me in so many new and personal ways in the past months during my Thin Within journey . . . why? I am learning, one day at a time, to take the challenges of this world to my Savior – the little ones, the big ones, the medium sized ones – and ask. Lord, Lord, where are you in this mess? I submit to you!!! How exciting it has been to ask that very question and find Him closer to me than I can imagine, already working my messes into good things for me and those around me. God meets us in the storm, and surprises us with His love while it’s still raining. Later in the day I heard the song “I Am” by Crowder and was touched by the lyrics. There is no space that His love can’t reach, there’s no place where we can’t find peace, there’s no end to amazing grace, in the middle of the storm I am holding on to you, I am!!! Thank you so much, Jesus!
It was about three hours before Kathy’s dad finally came home. Mom finally came out of her room and cried because her baby was growing up, a cake of sorts was picked up, and we all sang “Happy Birthday” in the tiny, dark kitchen of the apartment. We borrowed birthday candles from a neighbor and Kathy’s face beamed as she made a wish and blew them out. I felt Jesus in the room, loving that precious girl and providing just what she needed, just at the right moment. God was there all along.
God meets us in the storm and surprises us with His love while it’s still raining.
Psalm 61:1-2 “Hear my cry, oh God, give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”
Phillipians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
How about you? Have you encountered a loving God in the midst of your storms? Do you run to food when your loving Savior is waiting for you to cry out to Him? What would happen if you brought every challenge in your life before Him, one at a time? God patiently waits for us, He is a gentleman. What is He whispering to your heart today?
Dear Scale, I’m done with you! I’m finished! You no longer get to tell me who you think I am or how well I am doing. You do NOT define me! You are not my friend anymore. Goodbye! Sincerely, Christina
This is overdue. I meant to write this weeks ago.
It’s Sunday night, July 13, 2014. We had a glorious weekend with BEAUTIFUL weather! We live in Southeast Alaska. It rains a lot here. We get 14-feet of precipitation a year. Yes, you read that right, 14 FEET! Our temperatures this weekend were in the upper 70’s. That is warm for us. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
Last night, I had this idea that I would weigh myself this morning. About a month ago, I removed the scale from my bathroom and put it in this storage space we have below our house, which is in a room above our cistern. (Because of all the rain we get, we collect the rain water into our cistern tanks, which is then filtered, and that’s the water we use for drinking and bathing). The room above the cistern is like an above ground crawl space. That’s where the scale lived for a few weeks…until last night when I got that [evil] thing out. Some of you may be wondering if I prayed about this: NOPE! I was full-throttle on-a-mission and I think the Lord was like, “Okay, have your way. You shall see…”
Mirror, mirror…who is the most beautiful of all? Well, let’s just say it’s, “Scale, scale, tell me, am I beautiful? Have I been good? Am I too much? Or not enough?”
I thought, “I’ve been doing really well (I’ve been good). I’m following my boundaries pretty consistently. God is changing me and transforming me. Let’s see the proof in the puddin’!”
I woke up. I got out of bed. I went (yeah, you know what I mean, let’s empty everything so no ounce counts against us). I put my 8-pound weight on the scale just to be sure it’s accurate (oh boy!). I stepped on the scale.
I gained 2 pounds! TWO pounds! GAINED!
Wait! This can’t be right.
Step off the scale.
Let’s try that 8-pound weight again.
Ready. Let’s try this again.
Still a 2-pound gain. Sigh.
Now remember, it’s a beautiful day. But the majority of my day was spent in with this cloud hanging over me, all because of a number. A number. Two measly pounds. I let it define me. I let it steal my joy. I let it steal my whole day. I was grumpy. I set the mood for my home and my husband was affected, and so was my daughter. I was in a stinkin’, rotten mood all because of a contraption that spits out a number.
Really? I’m going to let it have that much leverage?
I’m DONE with it!
I am NOT what I weigh. I am defined by Jesus Christ.
So hours later, which really should have been right away, I sat down and renewed my mind using the Dumb Scale Eating questions from I Deserve a Donut app (there’s also the book) by Barb Raveling. That helped, but I still had a bad attitude. So then a little while later, I renewed my mind with the Discontentment questions from the same app. One of the questions asks what God wants me to do, and right away He showed me that I needed to apologize to my family for having such a bad attitude. And so I did, and they forgave me (along with hugs and kisses).
I’ve never walked away from the scale feeling better. Even if I had a weight loss, I still felt discontentment rising up in me. It will never be enough. It’s a tool the enemy has used in my life to make me feel like the scum of the earth. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but really, I have allowed it to define me. I am not my weight. I am more than a number!
So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to ask my husband to hide the scale and I’m going to ask him to not let me have it back–ever! (Unless the Lord clearly gives me the “ok” to weigh). Really, I’m so done with it! We actually have a use for the scale for weighing our luggage when leaving town since Alaska Airlines doesn’t really like a bag to be over 50-pounds (sometimes we are just tired of the rain and we would rather see snow or sun, you know?). We aren’t light packers, what can I say? So…he’s going to hide it and I’m going to be done with it.
Will you join me in this? Will you get rid of or ask a family member to hide the scale? Or wean yourself off the number-spitting contraption? Maybe instead of every day, how about once a week? And then once a month, and then every 3 months? And then never? The number isn’t important. You are important!
This is a scripture that was included with the Discontentment questions from I Deserve a Donut. It really spoke to me:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being RENEWED day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18
I don’t want to look at what is seen (the scale). I want to believe by faith that God is doing a work in me. Because He is transforming me, from the inside out. One of the questions asked in the Dumb Scale Eating questions is: Is it more important to lose weight, or to consistently renew your mind so you change the way you think about food?
Well, obviously it’s more important to consistently renew my mind. Because I have chosen to renew my mind and because God has transformed me (and continues to do so), I have seen some amazing changes take place. I no longer think about food like I used to. I used to lust after hunger (being at 0), but now sometimes when I’m hungry, I feel like it’s an inconvenience because I’m working on a project or spending time with my family. I’m no longer fearful about food (I used to think that sugar and carbs were doing deathly damage to my body). I eat smaller portions at restaurants (this is a new change). I don’t like feeling full, which for me is a “6”, where before, I used to numb myself with food. I no longer immediately think about eating after my kids are in bed (that is a HUGE transformation change–praise God!). And by following my boundaries, I was able to stay at a very healthy weight during my pregnancy. So WHY would I let a number make me feel like a failure? No way! I’m not doing that anymore!
I don’t know why I gained 2 pounds. But I’m not going to spend my time focusing on why. I’m just going to continue doing what I am doing: following my boundaries and most importantly renewing my mind. Taking the time to renew my mind about this got my attention today. God exposed the lies and revealed truth. The lie: you are what you weigh. The truth: the scale doesn’t define me; Christ defines me.
So would you join me on this quest to say goodbye to the scale? Let’s do it!
P.S. About 1-1/2 weeks after I weighed myself, I was able to tighten my belt one more notch. Praise God! So obviously something is happening. A new thing is happening! God is doing work from the inside out!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:2 (NKJV).
Romans 12:2 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I began truly meditating on it when I became a part of Thin Within as the workbooks have quite a bit of teaching on this process. Mind transformation is a total necessity if we are going to walk in victory concerning any area of our lives. Victory for me not only applies to my issues with food, but it also applies to other areas of my life.
Struggling with major insecurity for many years, I knew that as a minister, I could not go on in defeat and expect to help others to victory. I began to apply the mind transformation scripture to my insecurity which, by the way, contributed to much of my emotional eating.
One of the first steps in mind transformation is recognizing lies from the enemy of our souls. We can fall for his lies and not even realize that we are wearing a cloak of deceit. For example, I believed the lie that I was not good enough to work in my church, witness to people, or have successful relationships with people. The source of much of my insecurity was wounds I had suffered from relationships with men before I met my husband, people in the church who had lied about me, and friendships that had seemed to dissolve rather quickly. What was wrong with me? Why could I not maintain relationships?
I had to recognize the lie Satan had put into my mind that I was not good enough. Of course, I am far from being the perfect person, but if I am a child of God, I am made worthy through the blood of Jesus. Recognizing this truth took time because the lie was engraved in my mind for such a long period of time.
Once I recognized this lie, I could begin tearing it down through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing EVERY THOUGHT (emphasis mine) into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV).
I had what I needed to tear down these lies, not in myself but through the Holy Spirit. I had to participate in my mind transformation. I say this because we often want God to just pour victory on us without our participation. He must have our cooperation in the process, or we will just as easily return to bondage.
Now that the lies were torn down, I did not need to stop at that point. My mind was now empty and something had to replace those thoughts or the lies would return with a vengeance. Luke 11:24-26 is proof of the need to fill the empty places. Jesus spoke of an unclean spirit leaving a man and returning to find the house empty so the unclean spirit brought more with him causing the man to be worse off than before.
I believe this is where we often miss the mark in mind transformation. We begin to recognize the lies and tear them down, but we fail to replace the thoughts with God’s thoughts concerning the situation. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we have the mind of Christ so we can think his thoughts toward our situations. Philippians 4:8 describe the thoughts we should dwell upon.
Let me give you an example of the process. When I felt I was unworthy of ministry and relationships, I had to recognize the lie. Many lies will have some degree of truth which makes deception come into play. Without Christ, I am not a good person or a good friend, but with Christ, I can do all things. I have made a major step in the process, but I am not finished. I must realize that although I might have been at fault in previous relationships, those people had issues of their own so I could not be blamed for all of the failure.
Now that I had recognized a bit more truth, I needed to replace the lies. When replacing lies with truth, you must have scripture that applies to your situation. Some scriptures that I used in my battle were 2 Corinthians 5:21 concerning being the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. I read Ephesians 1 and 2 aloud concerning my spiritual blessings in Christ. I read Proverbs 18:24 claiming that I was able to show myself friendly. Philippians 4:13 about being able to do all things through Christ works in many situations. Aside from these, I found scriptures on the love of God. Recognizing His love made me able to have healthy relationships and a godly ministry.
The process was not easy but had I not participated in my mind transformation journey, I would not be able to tell you about it. You have to participate and cooperate with God in your own mind transformation. He is more than willing to be your strength, but He will not force His will on you. Your willingness to work through tearing down the lies and replacing them with truth is a must.
What about you? How can you cooperate with God in your mind transformation? What lies need to be torn down? What truths need to replace these lies with truth?
Mom, Christopher said I always tell on him! No, I didn’t say that, but it’s true anyway! You always say always and it’s not always true! Madeline, you stay out of it. Stop hitting me with the towel! Katherine, you’re such a snitch. MOM!!!! It was one of those days. Well to be fair it was just one of those car rides. It was time to run errands and I needed each child for at least one of the errands so . . . off we went. Do you ever get the feeling that your children are spending a little too much time together during the summer?
It really had been a good day so far. Thankfully I had been up early to squeeze in a brisk walk and some time with Jesus. I walked and walked, praised Him for who He is, asked Him questions, and thanked Him for His answers. He walked beside me, encouraged me with the words to my favorite songs, and renewed my mind with verses that spoke perfect truth to my soul. I asked him, “What is your truth for me, Lord?” as I so often do. He is never impatient and understands that I forget and need to be reminded often . . . He has been human before, and He knows. What an amazing joy it is to know that my Savior is walking with me every minute of every day – even when I am having one of “those” car rides!!!
I stopped at a red light and the kids suddenly fell silent. Hey Mom – there’s a donut shop! Can we get donuts today? Pleeeeeeaaasssee? We haven’t had donuts in soooooo long. Look, it’s open! Come on, Mom, please????? I drove on, prepared my “firm mom voice”, and replied that I wasn’t ready to say yes to a single request until there were kind words being spoken and apologizing going on in the car. Well, two of the kids said “I’m sorry!” just as fast as you can imagine, but Katherine crossed her arms, crossed her legs, stuck her lip out as far as it would go and said “I don’t even want a donut!!!”
While the other two were trying their best to convince her that she really did want one and she just needed to apologize and get over it, I was thinking to myself – wait a minute – if there is anyone around here who deserves a donut, it’s ME! Here I am, schlepping these kids around in the car, taking care of everyone’s needs but my own. Are any of these errands for me? No! I started thinking about what kind of donut I might really deserve – maybe a chocolate old fashioned? Oh yes – those are my favorite. How about a chocolate with sprinkles? Maybe . . . or a nice, chocolate supreme with filling – I am noticing a theme here, are you? At that point there was a little, annoying question floating around in my brain. Are you hungry, Christina? I swatted the thought away like a fly and pulled into the donut shop. The kids had stopped fighting and all three of them had apologized and come around at this point. Why not? We hadn’t had donuts in what seemed like forever. And anyway, I deserved one for being a mom of three very loveable, but crabby kids!
It turns out that this donut shop had only been in business for a short time, and boy did we hit the jackpot. Our mouths dropped open and our eyes grew wide as we looked at the assortment of mouthwatering donuts. There were fruit loop donuts, candy bar donuts, waffle donuts, chocolate chip donuts – even bacon donuts! It was then that we decided to get a dozen and share them later with friends that were going to be coming over. Christina . . . are you hungry? What is your heart hungry for? I can satisfy your every need. What do you need right now?
Now I have to mention here, that I have been working my way through Barb Raveling’s book I Deserve A Donut and Other Lies That Make You Eat for several months now. It is perfectly simple, goes along beautifully with Thin Within principles, and best of all is a powerful source of God’s truth. On my work days I would get up early, while the whole house was asleep, and pray through the questions of a page as I got ready for the day. On my days off I would take walks with Jesus, mulling the questions over in my mind with Him, desperately asking Him to please, please renew my mind, restore my soul, change me from the inside so that I would not be mastered by food and body image issues anymore. It was just a few months ago when I really hit that wall – the wall that marks the point where you just can’t live life the same way another minute. I cried out to my Lord and Savior, and He heard me in a big way. In Barb Raveling’s book under the Entitlement Eating section she writes: “When we hold food with tightly clenched fists and say it’s our right to eat, we’re basically saying, ‘I deserve this, God, and I’m not willing to give it up. God says, ‘That food will never make you happy. Come to Me, and I’ll give you the abundant life.’” Hmmmmm . . . now that’s food for thought. 🙂
So here I was, standing in front of a hundred or so of some of the most amazing donuts I had ever seen . . . and these questions were going through my mind. Jesus was with me, here in the donut shop! Of course He was. He has promised never to leave me. I felt so close to Him in that moment that I half expected Him to walk out of the back area with an apron on and a fresh sheet of donuts in His hand, smiling all the way – and perhaps a wink, just for me. Then . . . this is my favorite part of the story . . . a man did walk out of the back area, but he wasn’t carrying a tray of donuts. In his hand was an empty box ready to house a dozen donuts, and on the front of the box, in large letters it said, “YOU DESERVE A DONUT!” Oh my goodness! I started laughing out loud and I’m sure no one knew why. But I knew, and Jesus knew – and it was such a fun moment between Him and I.
The kids picked out their favorites, I picked out mine and we filled up that box, quick as a wink. When we got home I smiled at God, took out my favorite chocolate old fashioned, and put it in a baggie to save for when I felt true hunger. Just one and a half hours later I was at a zero and ready to thoroughly enjoy my donut. It was delicious. God is so good! I continue to be amazed every time I catch a glimpse of how intimately involved He is in my life. Do you believe that He loves you that much? He does!!!
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things (even donuts!) will be added to you.”
Phillipians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.”
How about you? Do you believe that God is intimately involved in your life, even inside of a donut shop? Do you sometimes feel entitled to have a certain food at a certain time when you are really trying to satisfy an emotional or spiritual need? God wants nothing more than a real, authentic relationship with you. He can’t wait for you to run to Him for your every need. What is He whispering to your heart today?
Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We all want to be accepted for who we truly are. But the truth is that not everyone will accept us. We cannot please everyone. These are truths the Lord taught me years ago and continues to do so. He showed me that He is pleased with me and that if I am living my life focusing on pleasing Him and Him alone, that He will work on the rest.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
A few weeks ago, when my son was 3-1/2 months old, we brought him to my husband’s workplace so everyone could meet Joshua. After returning home, I was thinking about how some of my husband’s coworkers were so excited to meet Joshua, but there were also some who hardly even looked his way. This is a 3-1/2 month old, who wouldn’t drool over a sweet little baby who coos and smiles? Apparently not everyone. I was not offended in the least bit. If anything, it inspired this post. The Lord likes to use “life” to teach me important principles and truth.
My son does the basic things in life. He sleeps, he eats, he poops, and it’s usually in that order. When he was in my womb, before I ever laid my eyes upon him, I loved him and delighted in him. He does not need to perform in order for me to love him–I just love him. I think he’s the cutest baby boy ever, but I’m bias because I’m his mother. I want everyone to look at him and go “gaga” over how adorable and sweet my little boy is.
And you know what? I am pretty sure that’s how the Lord, our Heavenly Father, feels about us. He’s like, “See my child? Isn’t she beautiful? I made her? I weaved her together in her mother’s womb. Isn’t she amazing?” But just like what happened when I brought my son to my husband’s work, not everyone feels the same way I do. But it doesn’t mean he’s not cute and super adorable (because, hello, he is!). I mean, look at this face:
Who could resist that?
But you know what, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about my son, because he is loved!
There are going to be people who get really excited about you and they are going to think you are great, but there are also people who won’t give you a second-glance or think much of you. I think we tend to focus on the people who don’t accept us, instead of focusing on the One who loves us and delights in us. Joyce Meyer says in her book, Approval Addiction (which is a really great read on this subject and I highly recommend it), that 2% of the population won’t like us. I don’t know about you, but I would rather focus on the 98% of the population who does like me! And better yet, on the Lord who loves and accepts me 100% of the time!
Your Heavenly Father thinks so much of you that He sent His One and Only Son to die for you, to save you from your sins, to redeem you from eternal death, to give you power to tread on serpents, and the list goes on and on. Sacrificing His only Son was THE ultimate sacrifice! Your Heavenly Father said you are WORTH it! He likes you!
“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
For many years of my life, I felt that I had to perform in order to earn love. If I worked hard enough, I would be loved. If I did the job right, I would be accepted. But I have learned that I’m not going to please everyone at the same time, and getting man’s approval is going to set me up for disappointment later on. I had to get to the place where I saw myself in God’s eyes and focused on what HE says about me instead of what the world says about me or thinks I should be. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, God loves me and He cares about me. That’s what counts!
And really, I just have to say that this world has problems if they can’t pause and take in the wonder of a cute 3-1/2 month old, right?
I mean, look at him:
God thinks you are pretty cute too!
Maybe you don’t think you are too cute. Maybe your parents or someone who should have loved you unconditionally showed you or even told you that they would love you when you were smarter, prettier, skinny, worked harder, got better grades, etc. Sometimes people in our life don’t love us the way God intended for them to love us. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t loveable. God says you are lovable. And He loves you! Maybe you were rejected by those who should have stood by your side. God will never leave you nor forsake you. Christ understands that rejection. He was rejected every day of His life when He was on this earth; and people continue to reject Him and His love every single day. He knows what it feels like to be despised. But He knew that His Heavenly Father loved Him and that’s all that mattered to Him. He was here to do the will of His Father. He was going to do what He came to do for us with JOY, no matter what anyone thought of Him.
“Our worth is not based on what we do, which life path we choose, or what we believe [or how much we weigh or our size]. Our worth is inherent in the fact that we are image bearers of the living God. Our worth is based on the fact that we are alive. We are human beings. Our worth is immeasurable.”* Isn’t that awesome? He made us in His image. When He created you, He said, “Very good!” When I held my son for the very first time, there was this huge, unmeasurable love radiating from my heart for this sweet, little baby! And I know the Lord’s love for my son is even greater, even deeper, even wider. God is enamored by you! He is in deep, deep love with you!
“The only reflection that really matters is the reflection we see in his loving and joyous eyes.”* Look into His Word and see what He says about you!
“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” Song of Solomon 4:1a
“Let me hear your voice;for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14
“I have learned that being beautiful, feeling lovely, and enjoying who we uniquely are have absolutely nothing to do with our weight, our age, or the shape of our bodies”* Amen!!
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:3-6
“Being beautiful is a quality of spirit recognized primarily in a woman whose soul is at rest because she believes her God when he calls her lovely She is no longer striving to reach the world’s unattainable standards of beauty and acceptance but instead is receiving the inheritance that is hers as an image bearer of the living God. She is embracing who God has made her to be.”*
Do believe you are lovely? Are you embracing who God has made you to be?
“Jesus is the only one who can meet the deepest needs of your heart, and he wants you to know how deeply he loves you so badly that he’s moved heaven and earth to do it. He is the only one who will never disappoint you, never ever leave you, comfort you intimately, and love you perfectly every single moment of your life. Invite him in.”*
I will disappoint my son at times. Even though I love him SO MUCH and I delight in him, I won’t be the perfect mother (even at my best). But that doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of love. God is the only perfect parent. People will disappoint us. But God will never disappoint us.
God loves you unconditionally. He accepts you. He will never disappoint you. He says you are beautiful, you are worth it, and you are loved.
How about you? Have you felt rejected by people in your life? Are you ready to embrace the One true Love and all He has to offer you? Spend time in His Word, ask Him what He says about you, what He thinks about you. You can get started by looking up these verses: Psalm 139 and Psalm 18.
*Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You by Stasi Eldredge
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
On June 6, 2014 at 3:00 am, the Lord gave me a dream. My son woke up shortly after I had the dream for a feeding. As I was feeding him his bottle, the Lord gave me the interpretation to the dream. I couldn’t wait to write the dream and the interpretation in my journal. This has been monumental truth in my life! I pray that this will encourage you as well!
In the dream, some other girls and I were kidnapped. I won’t go into the details, but I could tell that we had been with these kidnappers for quite awhile because we got used to them and after awhile we were looking to them to take care of us and protect us–even though they were still evil.
This is what I wrote in my journal at 3:30 am:
We are held captive for so long that we become friends with and trust our captors. We begin to rely heavily upon their “protection” even though they are harmful to us. And when we are actually free to run away or get help, we stay captive because we become like the elephant and think the rope is still tied to us–but we are actually free. We are actually strong enough to escape captivity, but being held captive is all we know. (I think it was Ginger that Heidi posted on Facebook about writing a book and she shared a story about how when they are training baby elephants to be in the circus or maybe the zoo, they tie a rope around one of their legs so they can’t go anywhere. As the elephant gets older, it stays in one place and doesn’t think it can move, but the rope has been removed a long time ago). It becomes a comfort to us. We get hurt because we are held captive, but we cling to our captors for help. It doesn’t make sense.
So this is what the Lord showed me–this is what I am doing with the diets and obsessive researching and thinking about trying to change things with what I am eating all the time. These are the things that held me captive for so long, and now I am free, but I’m like that elephant–I’m strong, but I am so used to being in one place and thinking that I am stuck in one place, that I haven’t moved. So even though the obsessive thoughts and diets have been harmful, it’s a comfort zone for me, so I keep on wanting to stick around. And even though in the dream I could have jumped out of a car, made a phone call, or cried out for others to help me get away from the kidnappers, I chose to stay because it was safer that way and didn’t cause me as much harm–even though these kidnappers could have harmed or killed me just like that and without even a care in the world. I have put my trust in my captors–in these programs, obsessive thoughts, etc.
“Prisons can be safe and comfortable. They can become a known life, a familiar way. Resignation is safe; dreaming is dangerous. Letting someone else control your life is easier than rising up to deny them control; the relationship will never be the same…The known is always more comfortable and less risky than the unknown…Not a one of us was created to live in captivity.”*
So I am free! God has thrown the prison doors wide open. The shackles have been removed. I can walk in freedom! I just have to choose it! “We will have to choose freedom and fight for our freedom as the Scripture urges…You pay too high a price to stay in chains. Freedom is what you are made for; freedom is good.”*
Just like I posted about Galatians 5:1, I have to LET myself be free! I’m still learning this. (Even the night before this is being posted, I’m still trying to keep myself from being free by giving myself another food rule; this has got to stop! I have to choose to stop it!) It baffles me that I would even let myself be held captive when I really am totally free! The prison doors are open, so why don’t I just run out? Probably because this has been 12 years of familiarity to me. And honestly, it’s sort of scary! I’m sure the Israelites felt the same way when they were out wandering in the wilderness. Egypt was slavery, but it was what they were familiar with. For some, it was all they knew. They had never lived a life of freedom before. So why is freedom so scary to us?
“A known captivity is more comfortable than an unknown freedom.”
How do we hold ourselves captive when it comes to our eating and body image? For me, it’s been opening links to before/after pictures of someone’s success with a particular diet or exercise program, it’s thinking critical thoughts of my body, researching different ways of eating, focusing on a body part that I’ve never really liked (but I’m learning to love), etc. It’s also been thinking I need to change the way I eat, do an exercise challenge, or thinking I need to be skinny (I will be sharing another post about this some time soon). These are all things that hold me back from experiencing the freedom God meant for me. Being critical of myself and my body holds me back from loving who God has created me to be. Reading about diets or thinking that I need to change my eating is me searching for some perfect set of boundaries. Thinking I need to do some intense exercise program puts my eyes back on me, me, me, me, me–instead of Christ. These are the things that trip me up. The excessive focus and the obsession with food, my body, and thinking I need to be ‘skinny’ is like slapping the chains right back on. Christ is like, “You’re free!” And I’m like, “I’m scared of this freedom!” Christ is like, “Follow these simple boundaries.” And I’m like, “But Lord, I know these other paths will lead me to where I want to be (worshipping the ‘skinny’ idol).” I put the shackles back on.
You see, I have been comfortable with those things that held me captive for so long. It’s become like a friend. I could run away, but this is all I’ve known for a long, long time. For some of us, being overweight has felt comfortable because it’s sort of like a wall we have put up, a defense mechanism to keep the people away that could hurt us. For some of us, driving through drive-thru after drive-thru is comforting because we get to eat and numb ourselves. For some, not eating brings us comfort because we are in control (even though it’s completely out of control). I don’t know your particular reason, but I know that Christ wants to free you from those chains. The devil has spewed out his lies upon you long enough. It’s time to bruise him under our feet (Romans 16:20) and throw off those chains and RUN out of captivity!
Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.
Sometimes, I think, in a humorous way, that the Lord must slap His hand to His forehead in disbelief that I’m doing it again. But there I am, looking back at Egypt. “Those leeks and onions sure look good! What is this manna anyway?”
So how to I stop being so stubborn and free myself? I am already free, so how do I walk out that freedom? This is probably going to come as a big surprise to you (not really):
I need to renew my mind!
Big shocker there, right? *wink*
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
What’s God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for me? FREEDOM!
How will I be transformed and be free from the pattern of this world? RENEWING MY MIND!
What is the pattern of this world? To be selfish, proud, serving other gods, envy, greed, lust, etc.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the “pattern” of this world. I’m tired of the world telling me that I *have* to be skinny, that I *have* to eat a certain way, that I *have* to bow down to the gods of this world if I want to be happy and blah, blah, blah.
Can you tell I’m getting feisty?
So I’m doing it! I’m taking off the chains and taking those steps in my newfound freedom! I’m renewing my mind every time I am tempted to go back to captivity. I’m going to choose not to open the books or sites on the internet that would trip me up. I have to keep my eyes on what Christ has asked me to do, not what the world is beckoning me to do. It also might mean excusing myself from conversations that would only ensnare me.
I’m going to fix my eyes on Christ!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Are you with me on this? Are you ready to release yourself from what has held you captive for so long and live your life in freedom? Freedom from diets, from being critical of your body, from counting, weighing, etc.? We can do this together! Let’s throw off those chains and RUN to Jesus!!! Let’s renew our minds together and watch the beautiful transformation take place!
*Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You by Stasi Eldredge