hey you, I know you

I know how you look in the morning every day and all you see is your healthy tummy and your cellulite-loved thighs. I know that you sit by your phone constantly checking for his texts or counting your number of likes. I know you can’t speak, I know you can’t laugh, I know you can’t tell a joke or ask a question without your brain telling you “shut up, you just sound stupid.” You cut others down because you’ve been cut down. You judge others because you’ve been judged. I know you feel unworthy because he told you he loved you, but his actions proved otherwise. I know what they said about you.

“I don’t know how she even has friends”

“She’s gotten fat”

“Of course he dumped her, she was weird anyways”

hey you

I know she was your best friend, but then stabbed you in the back. Everyone else understands that class, but you keep failing every test. I know that the reason that you are so sensitive is because you let yourself believe these lies. And every criticism you hear is just one more added to your never-ending list of failures. You feel like all eyes are on you, constantly waiting for you to fall, to embarrass yourself again. I know you feel stupid, because you never should’ve believed him or trusted her. You’re too loud, annoying, quiet, awkward, and clingy. You’re not fun enough, smart enough, nice enough, or skinny enough.

You have your guard up continually because you can’t believe that anyone can see you as anything other than broken and flawed. You follow your friends into places that you know you shouldn’t because it makes you feel accepted. I know you skip meals and claim you’re not hungry.

You’re hurting yourself, you’re hurting the people who love you, and you’re damaging your relationships all because of the way you see yourself.

But God…

God does not see you the way you see yourself. When God casts His eyes down from Heaven and gazes on His children, he sees you: blameless, worthy of love, forgiven, and washed white as snow. I’ve written about this before (which you can find here), but just to remind you again: you’re already accepted.

You’re already loved. You are called worthy and blessed and beautiful. You can stop all this. You can let it go.

Giving into these lies and listening to the judgments of the world does more than just damage your heart, it damages your relationships. Instead of facing disagreements with courage and love, you beat yourself down and give up. When you mess up, your guilt swallows you even deeper and instead of humility, you retaliate with pride and anger. You get jealous more easily. You crave attention more often. Trying to cover up your insecurities causes you to act in dangerous and hurtful ways towards others.

I know, because I’ve been there. Actually, I’m still there.

Dear girl, you are L O V E D more than you could ever possibly imagine. And when you fully understand that you ARE LOVED, you will begin to LIVE LOVED.

When you live loved, you love others well too. When you see yourself as somebody loved deeply and unconditionally, you will love others deeply and unconditionally. Because you know you are accepted by God, you won’t crave acceptance from others. You won’t follow your friends to places you shouldn’t be to feel accepted. You won’t give pieces of yourself away to boys who don’t care, because you understand your value.

When you live loved, you won’t need to measure yourself up to others. You can laugh, talk, smile, and cry without worrying about other’s opinions because you know that their opinions are not the ones that matter.

You were chosen before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. God literally thought about YOU before he even created the world, and designed you with purpose. He designed you to thrive, praise Him, to spread love, and to live loved.

God did not design you intricately unique for you to stare at yourself in the mirror and reject all of it.

You were bought with a price, and your worth is far more than rubies. There is no amount of riches in the world that compares to your worth in Christ. Who are we, the creation, to look back up to the Creator, and tell him that he didn’t do it right? Who are we to say that there is something wrong with us, when our Creator tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made?

This web of lies that you allow yourself to believe may seem impossible to fight your way out of. The insecurities run so deep and you’ve been weighed by their chains for so long, that it might seem like you’ll never be free.

You have to sink yourself in God’s Word. You have to dive deep into the truths that the Bible claims about you, and you have to hold on to them dearly. If you want to be free from your insecurities, and if you want to be able to live loved and love well, you absolutely have to spend more time with Jesus than you do with the world. You have to build a meaningful, genuine, strong relationship with your loving, understanding, never-failing Savior. The world will never make you feel loved, but Jesus always will. If you want to feel loved, spend quality time with Him.

I know how exhausting it is to live under a burden of insecurities. There is freedom to be found in your worth in Christ. You can let go of the burdens of self-doubt and fear. You can live well and you can love well when you begin grasp the depth of love that your Creator has for you (which you can only *begin* to do, because no one will ever fully understand it; that’s how DEEP it is). You just sink yourself deep into his loving truths, rather than the world’s lies.

(Ephesians 1:4) (1 Corinthians 6:20) (Proverbs 31:10) (Psalm 139:14)

Advertisements

Dear Girls who feel “Less Than”

Soooo today was bad. Mainly because I’m an emotionally driven person and too many little things turn into a big thing and also because I’m in desperate need of some sunny days and vitamin D to get my serotonin kicking again (lol seasonal affective disorder).

Another reason is that my mind is hardcore falling for the comparison game. It just seems like everyone around me is thriving, having a big fun time being successful, getting married and already pursuing their careers, and I’m just kinda…here. Eating “paninis” that I make with our 20 year old waffle maker and watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. As I look around at everyone around me (which is code for: stalk people on Facebook and Instagram) I get more and more and more dissatisfied with things about my life.

less than

“I should go to gym more like she does” (I try SO HARD Y’ALL but ya girl loves to sleep)

“She takes a selfie with no make-up and looks great, maybe I should stop wearing make-up” (this happened a couple weeks ago and I’m still confused with myself)

“They already moved out and live on their own- I still live upstairs in my parent’s house, so I need to find a way to move out”

Just as an additional example: there’s no way I can verify this, but I’m POSITIVE all y’all are making straight A’s with your 4.0’s- and I just made a 65 on a midterm.

So, basically I compare literally everything about myself with literally everything about someone else. And it damages my heart. It makes me feel totally unworthy, incapable, and just less than.

And if I had to guess, some of you reading this feel the exact same way. You look at the lives of those around you, and you cannot believe the ways that God is using them and there’s no way you can believe that God can use you too. You see the ways that others are thriving, and it’s impossible to imagine that you can thrive like that too.

Sweet girl, let me just tell you, those are lies funneled into your heart by the enemy. He plants them there, waiting for you to crumble, so He can pull you away from the truths that you believe in: the truths that tell you that God created you for a purpose. You know deep in your soul that God can use you, but when you feel less than, it is so hard to hold on that truth.

Well there’s a man named Gideon that we read about in the Old Testament and he felt the same way. Gideon was an Israelite that we find in the book of Judges. The Israelites rebelled against God (again), and God allowed a group of people called the Midianites to overtake and oppress them.

An angel soon appeared to Gideon calling him a “mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12), and tells him that Gideon will be the one to deliver the Israelites out of the hand of the Midianites. Gideon responds by saying that his family is poor, and he is the least of his father’s household. How could he believe that the Lord would use him in such mighty ways? God assures Gideon that He is with him, and Gideon will definitely, for sure defeat the Midianites.

And you know what God did? Exactly what he promised. He gave Gideon the power to defeat the army of the Midianites, whose number was as great as the number of grasshoppers in the field, and delivered the Israelites from their oppression.

God used Gideon in mighty and powerful ways, despite the circumstances that Gideon was in. Gideon thought he was poor, unusable, and unworthy. Yet God rose him up with an army a fraction of the size of the Midianites, and he saved his people.

Don’t ever think that your current circumstances are too far gone for God to reach you. Don’t allow yourself to be so wrapped up in your current situation that you are blinded from the presence of the Lord in your life. God works in ways that the world does not expect. Just because you’re “not measuring up” in the sight of the world, doesn’t mean that God looks at you that way too. God doesn’t look for someone in a healthy financial situation, with a high social status, stellar reputation, or a wealth of material things. God looks for a willing heart.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

We don’t have to be strong enough, good enough, wealthy enough, successful enough, or smart enough. Our lives don’t have to look like the life of that girl down the street or the girl in our Monday class. God can (and will) use you and me right where we are, in our own circumstances, and within our own time frame.

Live each day in the joy of expectation. Instead of grumbling about your life, walk through each day expecting God to use you. Because He can, and He will. He’s just looking for a willing heart.

So next time I come to class, and that girl talks about her plans after graduation and the group of people behind me is talking about the A’s they made on our quizzes, I will not allow the little comparison lies to creep into my heart (and you shouldn’t either). I will remind myself that my life does not have to look like theirs, and God will work through my life in any way He sees fit, despite my circumstances. And I will find joy in that (and you should too).

 

 

when you don’t feel accepted

When I was in high school, I lived nearly every day in terror over wondering what the people around me thought about me. Y’all, I mean it was severe. I let the imaginary opinions of others dictate literally everything about me- what I wore, what I said (or didn’t say), who I talked to (or didn’t talk to), things I did, activities I was involved in, etc.… I was in constant fear over saying the wrong thing, making a stupid mistake, being awkward, or appearing to be a certain way and looking back at those days now, I feel TOTALLY ridiculous. Who I am today is not anything close to who I was in high school, and I feel like the main reason for that is because I was too afraid to be who I really was and do and say the things I wanted to. My need for acceptance totally dictated my identity.

when-you-dont-feel-accepted

I watch the people around me (and strangers via the internet) hate, judge, ridicule, and reject each other and it seems like all of those actions are a result of our need for acceptance. We need attention. We need to feel accepted. We need to feel like someone out there notices us and sees what we’re doing and cares about it. If someone is getting more attention, others get jealous. If someone is different from everyone else, they are rejected. If someone has a different view or belief than us, we feel threatened and get angry. Our own need to be accepted causes us to do the exact same things to others that we fear they’ll do to us.

For some, this desire leads them to doing things they shouldn’t be doing with people they shouldn’t be with.

For some, this desire creates a selfish and jealous heart.

For some, this desire is quenched with the use of social media.

In my own case, this desire gave me a heavy heart. Seeking acceptance from the people around me only led me to feeling even less accepted.

Whatever the case is, the need to be accepted, cared for, and just simply noticed leads to a heart-breaking life.

Chasing attention from the world will never leave you satisfied. There will always be someone to live up to, someone better than you, receiving more attention than you, or just doing life better than you are. You’ll always need to do more, say more, or be more to get the attention and acceptance that you want.

Hey y’all, you will never ever be accepted by the world. Why should you want to be? Why should you want to be accepted by the same people who reject the One who lives and reigns in your hearts?

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” John 15:18

Jesus himself has chosen you specifically out of the world, to stand apart, to be light and salt and love and joy- not to look like the world. Jesus didn’t set you apart so you could look and act like the very same people who hate him. No, friends- He chose you to stand above, and to stand out.

This fact alone- that He set you apart- is real proof that you will never be accepted by the world.

It’s even further proof that you will never NEED to be accepted by the world.

You are already noticed. You are already accepted. The world may make you feel rejected, but you ARE known and loved and cared for. You were chosen by God himself “to be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

This world is not your permanent home. Acceptance and attention from the people here will give you a temporary ego boost, but it will never create lasting joy. If you want lasting joy, cling to the worth and identity you already have in Christ- not in your strengths, not in your material things, not in your athletic ability, not in your talent, artistic ability, number on the scale, grades, popularity, or whatever. You can very easily find acceptance from the world with stuff like that- but when you seek acceptance through temporary, worldly things, it will not last. You will always need more.

Acceptance in Christ is satisfying. It is real and lasting. It won’t ever break your heart.

You know why?

Because it’s not based on you. It’s not founded in anything you’ve done, will do, or ever could do. Your worth is found in Christ alone. And He never changes, you can for sure count on that. Your identity found in Him will never, ever change, because He will never, ever change.

You don’t need acceptance from the world, you need acceptance from God. And you already had that- long before you were even born. That acceptance was established that day on the cross, and in that you have hope- knowing that you are always noticed, always loved, and always cared for.

 

Pro-Life Arguments: let’s take religion out of it

I’m 100% positive that this post is not going to provide some ground-breaking argument that has not already been used. Do not be deceived by the title above: my stance on abortion is deeply affected by my Christian faith. Abortion is, in fact, murder, and the Bible tells me that murder is wrong. Ending a human life out of convenience is absolutely against my religion.

However, my point in this post is to provide Pro-Life Christians with arguments to use in the face of opposition. Most pro-choice people are not going to accept arguments that include your “beliefs”. They have different beliefs than you, maybe a different religion, or lack of one, or whatever so they have no reason to care what your “beliefs” or religion says. For example, you can say, “well the Bible says that murder is wrong” and then they could say, “well I don’t believe in your Bible”. And then the argument is done. I want to start with the most common arguments in favor of abortion, and find the fault in them. I understand that the issues and motives associated with abortion goes much deeper, but I cannot fit all of that into one blog post, obviously 🙂

Let’s begin with the most basic argument:

The fetus is not a living thing, therefore abortion is not murder.

In the beginning chapters of the majority of biology classes, we learn the seven characteristics of a living thing, which include:

  1. Made of cells
  2. Different levels of organization
  3. Obtain and use energy
  4. Grow and develop
  5. Reproduce
  6. Respond to environment
  7. Adapt to environment

You can check off all of these criteria for a human embryo. Embryos are obviously made up of cells, and from the moment a sperm and egg meet each other, cells rapidly start reproducing and specializing. It takes energy for the fetus to grow, and it also develops a nervous system, which allows it to respond and adapt to stimuli. From the moment of conception, an embryo becomes a living thing.

Abortion is a better option than putting unwanted children into a broken foster care/ adoption system.

First of all, our country’s accommodations for orphaned or unwanted children can be pitiful. I understand the facts. I understand the realities (and sometimes horrors) of a child being placed in the foster care system. It needs to be fixed. It does. I cannot see how that child is better off being murdered than being given a chance. That’s expecting failure from a person that you know nothing about. That’s expecting that child to live a miserable, meaningless, hopeless life- so far to the point of the child being better off dead. I know people who grew up in an orphanage or foster care homes, and they lived the exact opposite of a meaningless life. We have no idea the happiness or success that child might find in their life, despite the fact that they might be an orphan or in foster care. How can you tell pro-lifers that we are wrong for wanting to give the child a chance? A human has absolutely no right to decide whether or not another human gets to live, no matter what they’re expecting from their future.

*I found the following reasons in favor of abortion from BBC.

A woman has the right to decide what happens to her body.

(Disregarding my Christian values for the sake of this argument) Yes, yes, YES the woman has the right to do whatever the absolute heck she wants to do with her body.

However, fetus = a different body.

This argument has actually progressed into *most* pro-choicers admitting that the fetus is a separate being from the mother. The argument has actually evolved into- the woman has power over her own body, and the fetus exists within the woman’s body, so she has the right to decide whether or not the fetus remains in her body. This string of logic acts as if the fetus is a foreign object or something, and not a living thing with rights of its own. Also, it’s not like the fetus remains in the body forever. It comes out after nine months, and even then the mother is not obligated to keep it. Every human being has the right to their own body, so why wouldn’t the fetus have the right to his/her own body? The fetus is not part of the woman’s body, it is temporarily connected to the woman’s body. And as we’ve already established, the fetus is a human life, therefore it has rights too. The fetus is a unique and separate individual from the mother, it has rights of its own, and if the mother simply does not want the responsibility of a child, there are options other than abortion.

Women need access to abortions in order to have the same freedoms as men.

This argument implies that since men do not have the responsibility to carry a child, women should not have the responsibility either. Which, in my opinion, is absolutely insane. The female is the one who is able to carry out reproduction. In nature– every female animal carries out procreation, not the male. It’s part of your biology. It is, in fact, a privilege that women have to be able to ensure the continuance of the human race. I cannot see how having the ability to bear a child prevents me from having the freedoms that a man has. How does having access to abortions provide me the same “freedoms” as men? I already have the same freedom as men.

Since the year 1920 and the passing of the 19th Amendment, women have had the right to vote.

Since the year 1963, and the passing of the Equal Pay Act, it has been illegal to pay me less because I’m a woman.

Women have been successfully obtaining college degrees since the year 1840 when Catherine Brewer became the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against me because I am a woman.

Do not tell me that I am any less “free” than a man because men do not have to bear a child. (If you want to complain about women being “oppressed” in America, please go to talk to a girl growing up in the Middle East under Sharia law, pre-teen girls being forced into arranged marriages, or a woman sold into sex slavery. Oppression of women does not exist in America)

Here is a solution to for the unwanted child: Use birth control. If that fails, and she still chooses not to keep the child, use adoption. There are plenty of women who are desperate for a child and can’t have one, and they will absolutely be more than happy to take an unwanted baby. The fact that there was once a fetus inside a woman’s body does not prevent her from exercising the same rights as men.

Women need free access to abortion in order to achieve full political, social, and economic equality with men.

By saying that because of the fact a woman has born a child, she is incapable of becoming as successful as a man, pro-choicers are the one victimizing women. They are implying that a woman’s biology makes her less equal, less capable, and less respectable.

Men are not biologically able to bear a child. If a woman wants to use abortion as the argument that it provides a female with the same “freedoms” as a man, then she is actually complaining about the fact that she was born as a woman with the ability to carry a child, instead of being born a man. A woman could have a baby, even decide to keep the baby, and she could still be just as successful financially and socially as a man. If the woman decides that having a baby would prevent her from being equal with a man, abortion is not the only option. Logically, abortion does nothing to secure a female’s political, social, and economic success or equality with a man.

It comes down to modern feminists needing to find ways to make women feel victimized. Raising a baby, or even simply birthing the baby, does not make a woman any less than a man. I don’t feel oppressed because I was born a woman, and therefore have the ability to bear a child. I am not envious of men because they don’t have the responsibility to bear children. Abortion at its simplest is just selfish. And (a lot of) modern feminists have the amazing ability to ignore their conscience and twist the pro- choice reasoning into a completely illogical argument. I am proud of being a woman. I am proud of the fact that I am part of the half of our species that has the privilege to carry a human life. That’s empowering to me. I do not feel oppressed because I may birth a child one day, I feel honored.

This goes much farther into the feminist argument, and that may be another post for another time. In the meantime, please enjoy this blog post about the “victim mentality” of most modern feminists that I found absolutely enlightening. This victim mentality is the roots of the pro-choice argument.

http://futurefemaleleader.com/yes-equal-im-sorry-youre-offended-us-women-lack-victim-mindset/

Abortion is not the only solution (and should not be a solution at all) to dealing with an unwanted baby. A woman can become pregnant, choose to give up the baby in adoption, and still succeed in the same political, social, and economic realms as men. Murder is never a solution to anything. There are always other options.

 

2016 has been a disaster

This is the current joke running through the Internet right now- that 2016 has been a disaster. Thank God this year is over, let’s hope 2017 is better. People of the world have seemingly automatically agreed that this entire calendar year has just been catastrophic for the general human population. I realize that this year has held challenges- political decisions, the media, court rulings, riots, police shootings, terrorism, several well-loved celebrities passing away, and not to mention the presidential election that nearly tore our country apart.

Yet despite all this, I cannot latch on to the claim that “2016 has been a disaster for me”. I have laughed, I have loved, I have hugged, held, and been shown miraculous grace to have even lived another 365 days. That’s far from disaster.

We’ve absolutely had major issues this year, not only in our country but across the world. People are angry, and bitter and self-centered. Politicians are dishonest. Foreign terrors are real. Our country is incredibly divided in every way. From my point of view, the values of our society are quickly spiraling downward.

However, my life in 2016- or any other year for that matter- is far from disaster. I have a family that loves me. I have a roof over my head. I’ve formed new relationships and sustained old ones.

I’ve spent another 365 days with God watching over me and Jesus by my side.

I’ve lived through 365 opportunities to praise God for His love and mercy.

365 opportunities to spread love.

365 opportunities to live in joy.

I didn’t succeed everyday- there were several days I wasn’t praising God and I wasn’t living in joy.

But I still had the opportunity. That alone is enough to be thankful for. That alone is worthy of praise. The fact that I was even given another year to live is more than what I deserve.

The problems in the world will not define the happiness of my life.

The government officials elected, the court rulings, the opinions of the media and whatever else do not determine whether or not I am I living a happy, successful life.

Your happy, successful life is determined by what you do with what God has given you- whether it seems like a little or a lot. It’s defined by what you do with the people he placed in your life, the opportunities, the challenges, and even material blessings. The success of your life cannot be determined by things you cannot control. Whether or not 2016 was a success cannot be determined by what the world was doing around you, instead it should be defined by what God was doing within you. Do not throw away an entire year because things happen that are outside your control. This life we live on Earth has so many challenges, but because we live under God’s grace and love, it also has so many gifts.

With that being said, enter 2017 with the same outlook. You are about to embark on a 365 day journey filled with opportunities and people that can be part of God’s plan for you. You are about to be given another year to praise God and to live under his miraculous mercy and grace. You are about to receive more chances to grow into the child of God that you were designed to be. There will be struggles, and things will happen that you wish you could change, but don’t be surprised when you face heartache and disappointment. That’s to be expected, because we live in a broken world. But don’t discredit the blessings you receive because you’re too focused on the brokenness that you can’t control. Contentment in your life doesn’t come from outside circumstances, it comes from the peace and joy God has placed in your heart.

You have no idea what blessings and opportunities will unfold in 2017. And no matter what trials and struggles you find in this year, God can carry you farther.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The workings of God within your heart are infinitely more important than the workings of heartache in the world.

 

you don’t have to be pretty like her

I have a story.

On one particular Wednesday morning, I was running late for class. Having an hour long commute to school, and an 8 AM class preceded by a 5:45 AM alarm, this not an uncommon occurrence for me.

you-dont-have-to-be-pretty

This morning, like many other mornings, my eyes were doing this really cool and unique thing where one is slightly more open than the other. I can wash my face, I can stretch my eyebrows, I can apply lotion, but nothing solves this problem. It’s great.

So, I have two options: put on a full face of make-up to the point where the smaller eye looks like it’s caved in (not a good option) or wear no make-up at all (a worse option).  On this particularly rushed occasion, I chose the latter.

So I run down the stairs after throwing on an outfit that I’m highly dissatisfied with because it makes me look like a safari tour guide and I begin to make my cup of coffee. My cup brews, so I pull out the milk and pour some in. And then I smell something.

And I look down at the expiration date and realize that I just poured spoiled milk in my coffee.

So no coffee today.

So here I am, no make-up, one eye half closed, unhappy with my outfit, and no coffee. And away to school I go.

In my first class that day, I meet a girl. She’s tall, literally the size of a toothpick, with a beautiful face, hair piled into a cute messy bun, and perfectly polished fingernails. She’s wearing athletic clothing, so she obviously must be in perfect shape, and her blonde straight hair definitely beats out my frizzy, air dried, semi-waves in any kind of imaginary beauty competition.

And I put her image up against my own in my mind. And nearly every ounce of self-esteem I had inside me drains out.

Lies spill into my heart telling me that I am not as pretty as I should be. I don’t try hard enough to look presentable for class. Why do I ever skip the make-up? I know I don’t look good without make-up. I am not who I should be. This girl must have her life completely together, I mean just look at her. She’s probably less clumsy than me, more feminine, more organized. She’s probably happier. Probably never misses an assignment. Probably has a clean room. Probably has a nicer car. The list goes on and on and on…

Unfortunately, this type of situation is not a rare one in my life. And I have a feeling it’s not rare in yours either.

What I’ve been trying to convince myself since that day, and the thought I hope you can sink into your heart is this: You are, by no means, under the obligation to strive to reach someone else’s standards of “perfection”. Because you are not placed on Earth to be someone else. You are not placed on Earth to please anyone else.

Someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own beauty.

Someone else’s skills and abilities do not take away from your own talents.

Someone else’s cute outfit does not take away from your own unique sense of style.

You don’t have to look, talk, dress, or act like that girl. You can look, dress, talk, and act like you.

You don’t have to be pretty like her. You can be pretty like you.

I have another story. It’s about a girl named Leah. Leah was a young woman who always seemed to come in second place to someone else.  The Bible tells us that Leah was pleasant, but her sister Rachel was beautiful (Gen 29:17). When a man named Jacob asked their father, Laban, for a wife, he was promised Rachel, but received Leah instead. When Jacob realized this he said, “What is this thou hast done unto me? Did not I serve with thee for Rachel? Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?” Not only was Leah not as beautiful as her sister, but she also became a newlywed who was rejected by her own husband.

Don’t you have days that you feel a lot like Leah? Don’t have days when you feel as if you’re always second place to someone else, like you’re supposed to be so much more than you really are?

I have those days too.

God eventually blessed Leah to give Jacob a child. Despite the fact that this man has rejected her, Leah praised and thanked God for blessing her with a child to give Jacob (vs 35). Leah understood something that is should be such a precious reminder for all of us.

Leah understood that she was not placed there to serve people. She was not there to serve Jacob, to please her Father, or to try to live up to her sister’s standards. God placed Leah on Earth to serve and praise Him. And that’s exactly what she did. Leah was not beautiful like Rachel, but she was beautiful because she was a young woman who remained faithful to God and served and praised Him.

When you allow yourself to believe that you are not as good/pretty/skinny as other girls, you begin trying to please people more than you are trying to please God. You are admitting that others’ approval is more valuable to you than God’s approval.

Dear friend, you do not exist to please people around you.

You do not exist to win beauty contests, to win over all the boys, or to win anyone’s approval.

You exist to serve God.

You are not beautiful because of the color of your eyes, the color of your skin, the style of your hair, or the shape of your body. You are beautiful because God created you for Himself. You are beautiful because God is pleased by your praise and faithfulness. You will become so much more content with who you are when you have a firm grasp on what your purpose is- to serve God, to spread love, to honor and worship the One who made you beautifully and perfectly.

2 easy ways to spread joy

Hello friends 🙂

Current self-care goal: spread joy

If you’re trudging through life with negativity, selfish attitudes, or irritability, this post is for you!

When you struggle with things I listed above, you can’t live a joyful, fulfilling life and you certainly cannot serve God to your best ability.

spread joy

I struggle with joy a lot. Which is kind of why I made the transition to Filled with Greater Joy (a story you can read about here). Life is hard and people are mean and the world is sad and sometimes life is just…not good. You know? Sometimes it’s hard to find the silver lining. Sometimes the world crumbles around you and you’re left with a ton of missing pieces and only band aids to fix things. And sometimes, the world is not actually crumbling, it just looks like it is. Sometimes we get relaxed in our comfortable lives and one small bump in the road completely crashes our ride. Sometimes we simply forget to be grateful. Sometimes life seems hard because we’ve forgotten how much we’ve been blessed with.

And part of my struggle with joy is having a negative attitude.

I like to complain.

Don’t you?

Especially when everyone else around me is complaining. I love to join in on pity parties and agree that “it seriously is way too hot today” and “we definitely should get paid more for this”. It makes me feel like I’ve contributed something meaningful to the conversation. We love to feel included, don’t we? And misery loves company.

Complaining contributes to this attitude of negativity that is rampant, y’all. RAMPANT. We can all agree that the world is already full of negativity, right? So let’s spread a little optimism. Let’s spread a little joy. Yeah?

I believe that spreading joy comes down to two things:

  1. Focus on adding life to others with your words and actions.

Well that sounds great and flowery, Bets. But what does that mean?

It means that before you act or speak, you consider whether or not that action or word is going to add value to someone else’s life. Maybe complaining about your job to your neighbor isn’t the best way to add joy to their day. Maybe spreading gossip about that girl you hate doesn’t leave a positive impact on those who hear you.

Spreading joy begins with turning the focus on others instead of yourself. You know, start with little things like opening doors for others and giving compliments. (Side note, GIRLS: give. each. other. compliments!!!!! life is not a competition)

What adds life? Words of affirmation. Encouragement. A listening ear to someone’s struggles. Gratitude instead of complaints. (check out choose love // choose people) 🙂

  1. Focus on serving God with your words and actions.

This one is more self- explanatory. Serve God instead of yourself. Choose actions that bring glory to Him instead of yourself, and speak encouragement and love that draws attention to Christ. If we always act with ourselves in mind, it becomes extremely difficult to spread joy. No one likes to be around someone who’s only concerned about themselves, you know? Self-centered people are not pleasant people to be around.

If you turn the focus of your actions towards Christ, joy and encouragement will automatically follow.

Ok, but what does that really look like in real life?

In your daily interactions at school, work, or wherever, demonstrate qualities of Christ. Forgiveness. Patience. Love. Grace. Understanding. Stop spreading gossip, stop holding grudges, stop being so quick to judge others.

My little sister had speak life written on her rearview mirror for the longest time. Shout-out to you, RG.

I think that’s an incredibly simple reminder for how to live while spreading joy: speak life.

Don’t act or speak in a way that takes away value from someone’s life.

Speak life. And serve God.

 

what does self-care look like from a Christian standpoint?

Our society is in a huge “self-care” surge at the moment. Since the world promotes a somewhat self-centered attitude, this obsession with self- care conveniently fits in perfectly. Sometimes self-care is simply selfish attitudes or actions disguised as a healthy lifestyle.

self care

I used to see all the cutesy little self-care and self-love graphics and scoff and think that’s just egotistical.

But I’ve started wondering, what if self-care is a Biblical concept? And here’s what I found:

In John 9:13-25, Jesus heals a blind man, in John 5:1-9, Jesus heals a lame man, and Jesus is often described as our Ultimate Healer.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 to respect our bodies because they are “the temple of the Holy Spirit”.

Many of the Old Laws established by God in Old Testament, such as the dietary laws, were given to the people in order to keep them healthy and safe.

I have to assume that God values physical health and safety.

But we’re also told in 1 Timothy 4:8, that “bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitbale unto all things”.

So while physical health is important, spiritual health is even more important.

christian self care

What kind of picture of self-care does this give us?

It’s a picture of simply putting in the energy and time to keep your body healthy and safe. I’m not talking about lifting weights every day or running 3 miles every morning. I’m not even talking about cutting ice cream and Coke out of your diet. I’m talking about respecting your body and taking care of it in a way that is comfortable for you. I’m talking about being mindful of the state that your body is in, and taking care of yourself when you need to. Don’t be apathetic about your health, instead be intentional with your body.

If that does look like lifting weights and running until your legs fall off, great. But if not, that’s great too.

Maybe your version of self-care looks like choosing a salad every once in a while, going for a short walk a couple times a week, or taking some extra vitamins. Maybe it looks like making yourself to go to the doctor when you’re sick instead of avoiding it, or taking a break from your Netflix binge (guilty).

You don’t have to be a gym rat or health guru (but if you are, kudos to you). You simply need to remember that you were bought with a price, your body is a temple and deserves respect, and that you can serve God best when your body is healthy.

Mental self-care is a heavier ball game. I’m still trying to figure it out, and I’m fairly positive that I’m not very good at it. Maybe once I discover more, I’ll write a new post about it. But for now:

I believe that ultimately, all of our mental health relies on our spiritual health.

And I firmly believe that spiritual health is a large part of self-care.

I 100% believe that *most* mental struggles like anxiety, depression, anger issues, focus problems, insecurity, low self-image, emotional problems and attitude problems can be overcome with a healthy spiritual life.

I think self-care in this area looks like a lot of time spent with God. It looks like separating yourself from the problems of whatever or whoever you are facing and diving into God’s word. It can also include letting someone you trust know what you’re struggling with, and seeking godly counsel. It can be simply realizing that you (just like myself and everyone else) are broken on your own and only Christ can fix you.

Emotional and mental self-care includes holding on desperately to God’s truths. The truths that tell you to have peace, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 6:33). That it’s ok to be angry, but do not sin in your anger and don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (Eph. 4:26). The truths that tell you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that you are greatly valued in God’s eyes.

I promise that the Bible holds an answer to every mental or emotional struggle that you face.

*But also let me say, that sometimes you can’t find these answers on your own. Sometimes you need to talk to people you trust about your struggles.*

I think spending time with God and His Word is the ultimate self-care tip.

Maybe that means you wake up a couple minutes early to start the day with Him. Maybe you listen to worship music on the way to class, or listen to Christian podcasts on your afternoon run. Maybe you gather your friends for a Bible study at Starbucks or maybe you study alone.

Whatever it looks like for you, make it happen.

Because I’m learning that physical and mental/emotional self- care really is important. God gave you one body to run this race of life with, and it’s important to take care of it, physically and mentally. You are valuable and your health and safety is important. And given the fact that your Creator loves and cares more about you than you ever thought possible, I believe that self-care looks less like love for yourself and more like love for God.

if you wish you were a spoon, but you’re only a plate

Dear girl, you have been formed for a purpose. You have been molded and crafted by the Ultimate Creator to fulfill a purpose that only you can.

if you wish you were a spoon

In Romans 9, we see a picture painted of the Potter and the clay.

*Now this verse is taken slightly out of context, but I believe the principle is still true 🙂

The potter has complete control of the clay. The potter can take any particular lump of clay and turn it into anything he sees fit, to serve any particular purpose that he sees fit.

He can turn it into a bowl, a pitcher, a mug, or spoon- all created for different purposes.

And the formed clay is not going to be effective as anything other than what the Potter intended it to be.

A pitcher wouldn’t make a very useful spoon.

A plate wouldn’t be a very efficient pitcher.

A mug would make a terrible spoon.

There’s no use in the spoon wishing it was a plate, or the pitcher wishing it could become a mug. Because the spoon, plate, pitcher, and mug were all created the way they are for a specific purpose designed by the Potter.

People benefit from the spoon being a spoon, they do not benefit from the spoon trying to be a plate. In fact, a burden is placed on them when their spoon is acting like a plate.

To be a bit more realistic, here’s an example:

I am a cheerer, a calm, observe-from-the-sidelines kind of girl. I’d rather support and cheer on others than ever, ever, ever setting foot on a court or a field.

And I promise you, everyone else would rather me sit on the sidelines too.

Others would not benefit from me trying to be something I’m not: an athlete. I’d probably get people hurt, we would lose every game, etc… you get the idea 🙂

Others do benefit from me acting as what I am: a supporter, encourager, lover, and cheerer.

“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

You will find the most joy, peace, and contentment in yourself and your life when you are acting as who you were created to be. God receives the most praise when you live your life striving to fulfill the purpose He’s placed within you. You can do the most good for others, you can form the best relationships, and you can have the most contentment in your life as long as you are living as what God created you as.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us about all the different gifts given to the members of the church. In verses 4-6 he writes, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (NIV)

Everyone is given different ways to serve the Lord. He says some are given wisdom, some knowledge, others faith, and some gifts of healing, etc… You can have the gift of easily spreading joy, showing compassion, giving advice, maybe you’re a peacemaker, you can settle arguments easily, whatever your gift may be- others need you to be who you are and use that gift.

Maybe you’re a good writer, speaker, singer, dancer, runner, or athlete. Whatever gifts and talents God has given you, use to them to serve others and ultimately to serve Him.

I firmly believe that God has placed you exactly where He needs you to be in His Grand Design. I firmly believe that He calls you to follow Him wherever He takes you, whether it’s moving across a stage or court, moving music notes in songs of praise, or moving across the country or even the world to serve others. He has a purpose for you, and He has created you exactly the way He needs you to be to fulfill that purpose.

Don’t look at your friend the Spoon and wish you were her. Don’t look at your sister, brother, acquaintance, or classmate – the plate, mug, or pitcher and think that your life would be easier if you were them. Don’t think that you could do more if you were different or that others would like you better if you weren’t you.

You are specifically designed. Every part of your heart and mind was carefully crafted by the Almighty Potter.

You are you because God wanted you to be you. And that’s a marvelous reason to love who you are.

p.s.- the most important thing that the Potter made you into is a child of God, and that’s also a marvelous reason to rejoice 🙂

This post not enough? Part 2 is coming soon on your purpose and role in your relationships with others!

 

I can’t fix the emptiness inside

Sunday morning I was feeling really good about myself. My hair looked good, I was wearing make-up for the first time in a long time, and I had a new dress that I knew I looked good in.

Once I was fully fixed, with every hair in place and all my jewelry on, I was giving myself the final once-over in my sister’s full length mirror. You know, girls- the concluding check before deciding that you’re ready to face the world.

A rush of confidence surged through me for a solid 10 seconds, and then I was shocked at what followed: emptiness.

The thought ran through my mind, “ok, I look really good. I know I do…but, now what?”

I had been feeling pretty insecure all week, my face had been breaking out, and I was having one of those “fat weeks” (you know when you just eat everything all the time and end up feeling like a whale). After only working and doing summer-y things that require no make-up and only a semi-clean t-shirt, I was finally going out, dressed up, and looking good.

And I felt empty.

1

Do y’all see where I’m going with this? I am not the cure for my own insecurity. My happiness and contentment cannot stand on my appearance, clothes, or anything else about me. No matter how much I dress up, or how much make-up I put on, it will never be enough. I’ll continually be searching for the next thing- a new haircut or a new outfit, etc…

The spaces in my heart will not be filled by a shopping excursion, a makeover, or trip to the gym.

My contentment with myself will remain shaky and unstable as long as I depend on my looks to bring me security.

I have been desperately trying to engrave this concept into my soul: contentment comes from God.

I can get as skinny as I want, buy as many new outfits as I want, and become a make-up expert…but I will never be satisfied. I will never be satisfied until I embrace the fact that contentment with my life and security in who I am comes from God and Him alone.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body…” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Our bodies are a living temple for God. Inside you, within your heart, is where Jesus resides. Who are we to be dissatisfied with the body that God gave us? Who are we to use something that God created for His glory, for our own ego boost? While you were created beautifully and for a purpose, you are not your own.

How selfish of me to seize what was meant for God’s glory, for my own glory.

My satisfaction and contentment with who I am comes not from how glamorous or attractive I can make myself look, but from how I look through God’s eyes.

Unblemished. Spotless. That’s how I appear to God. That’s where my security stands. Anything I put my self-worth in besides Christ is a weak foundation to stand on. Who you are is defined by what Christ did for you on the cross, and any other place you put your confidence will surely crumble. Rely only the lasting foundation that Christ provides for your joy.

I believe everyone on this planet is searching for fulfillment. Every living soul is seeking something to pour themselves into, something to make their bad days good and heal their heartaches, something that they can look forward to every morning that they open their eyes, and something that makes them feel like their life has a purpose. On this particular day, I was relying on my appearance for my satisfaction.

Some girls turn to their looks, some turn to boyfriends. You can seek fulfillment in your grades, athletic ability, friendships, success, money, whatever… and all of it will leave you feeling empty.

Nothing in myself is enough to fulfill my contentment. There is nothing about me that is worth praise. I cannot fix myself enough in order to find joy solely from who I am. There will always be something else I need to fix, something about me that is still not good enough.

This relates back to my journey to joy: If every morning I wake up anticipating only my appearance, money, success, talents, or anything else to get me through the day, I’ll be an unhappy girl a lot of days. Nothing can bring you greater joy than this: the fact that you are made blameless through Jesus Christ, and that you belong to God and Him alone. Nothing you do on this Earth can fix the emptiness inside you. The only consistent fulfillment you can find anywhere comes from Christ.