Viewing entries tagged
insecurely

Burnout, Growth, and New Beginnings

Comment

Burnout, Growth, and New Beginnings

Emily Taylor, Hannah Beers, Cassie DeClerc, and Kaytee Mitchell are pictured at the Daughters of the King conference in Van Buren, Missouri.

Have you ever experienced burnout? I'm talking the kind of exhaustion and disappointment that lasts through a bad day and into a season. Burnout is living overwhelmed. I am writing to you today from the end of the burnout season. 

Two years ago this week, Insecurely Movement launched. I was a college freshman, living in a bright new world plagued with insecurity that affected everything around me. On a late night in February 2013, for the first time in my short life, I saw a way out of living a life of insecurity.

I lived 18 years with a voice questioning my validity as a woman, friend, daughter, leader, and a follower of Jesus.

As you read this, it is important to understand the war that insecurity waged against me. I am ambitious, brash, and driven to a fault. I pride myself on my ability to push through any crisis with a brave face. I like to succeed . . . all the time. I am the oldest child in my family and a fiercely protective sister. "She is intimidating" is a far greater compliment to me than, "She is beautiful." 

Josh Buckner, spoken word artist, and Nii Abrahams, writer, are pictured at the You Are Loved conference in Strafford, Missouri. 

That being said, I don't like showing emotion or weakness. Tears don't fall in public and jokes are a remarkably simple defense mechanism. My battle with insecurity did not present itself in off-handed comments about how I look or social media posts asking people to rate my appearance.

Rebel: Insecurely Day was a day that encouraged people find a plain white shirt, write their biggest insecurity on it, and wear it for a day. At Insecurely Movement, we believe that once you admit your insecurities, they lose power. 

No, that was never my battle. If it is yours, I join with you in pursuing freedom. 

My battle presents itself in relationships. "What do they think about me?" "Why do they even want to be around me?" "She obviously isn't (insert name here)." I lived 18 years with a voice questioning my validity as a woman, friend, daughter, leader, and a follower of Jesus.

When Insecurely launched, it was a series of these photos and weekly blogs. These photos illustrated that we are the same person regardless of how we look. 

Here I was, in April of 2013, with a lifetime of insecurity and a new mission to abolish it entirely. In a whirlwind of a year, people came alongside me, dedicated to sharing the message of Insecurely Movement. My dear friend Joshua Buckner wrote a spoken word that inspires everyone from YouTube commenters to prison inmates. Our social media grew and we planned and executed events. The website got a makeover, our staff reached eighteen people, and we were invited to speak at conferences around the state. We were doing exactly what we were called to do. But, it was not enough. 

I let myself believe a very simple lie. "I can't do it." Insecurely couldn't file for tax exempt status.  Insecurely couldn't create a business bank account. Insecurely couldn't gain thousands of Twitter followers. Insecurely couldn't devise a series of resources. Insecurely could not do it. 

I became so focused on what Insecurely could not do, I forgot what we could do.

Jon Hamilton, a pastor at Central AG in Vero Beach, Florida, spoke the words that illustrate the fault with this concept. "God did not tell us everyone would respond well to our ministry. He called us to be faithful." 

That brings me here. Insecurely Movement is back. We are back to share in the journey. We're back to do what we were called to do. We're back for you. 

That's what this whole thing is about anyway, right? We're here to make the trek together. The twenty-somethings that make up Insecurely are no experts. We live life just as you do. We spend Friday nights watching Netflix and complain entirely too much about Mondays. We go to job interviews and take final exams. We wait too long to do laundry. We eat Taco Bell when we shouldn't. 

The girl I was, immersed in insecurity, is still in here. I hear her voice all too often, but she reminds me of something new. Today, that girl reminds me of the struggles that so many of us deal with, of the guilt and pain that saddle themselves to you. She reminds me that there is a whole population of people who are still too deep in insecurities to break the surface of speaking up and out. She reminds me that each person is susceptible to insecurity, and to love people with a compassion that only Jesus could have mastered. 

We're here to come alongside you in the journey. Will you let us join?

God did not tell us everyone would respond well to our ministry. He called us to be faithful.
— Jon Hamilton, pastor

Hannah Beers is the founder of Insecurely Movement. She is a senior advertising and public relations at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. After graduation, Hannah plans on entering into public service. To connect with Hannah, follow her on Twitter. 

Comment

Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

Comment

Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

What do young Christians find attractive?

Guys that sing and play acoustic guitar (those guys can worship like no one else), and girls who like deep theological discussions (they really dig coffee and the word). Don’t fit the criteria? Well then, “You aren’t spiritual enough.” Not spiritual enough? You don’t fit the high standards that many of today’s Christian men and women have of what Godliness is. If you don’t pray to Jesus in a certain way, talk about God every other conversation, and fall to your knees during every worship service, then you aren’t very godly. Don’t get me wrong, a guy that truly loves the Lord is attractive, but should that kind of Godliness be the limit of what we consider “attractive”?

If you think of what Godliness is (taken from Galatians 5) being Christ-like, or loving others like Christ comes to mind. It’s a basic biblical definition. Once it is applied to a possible dating partner, it becomes more of a cultural definition than a biblical one. In our current Christian culture, Godliness means someone who worships dramatically, loves talking about God, or always in prayer. It doesn’t sound bad on the surface, but we tend to have a narrow idea of what exemplifies those definitions. We end up picturing the extremes. We picture someone who jumps and shouts during worship, talks about God all the time (you know what I mean), and someone who prays really really intensely. Is it wrong to do those things? Not at all, but when it becomes a standard that we hold ourselves, and others to, it becomes a problem. Now that it’s a standard, the mindset becomes “If you don’t worship Jesus in that exact way, then clearly you don't follow Christ" and that’s ridiculous! What gets overlooked is that not everyone expresses their relationship with Christ in the same way. Some people are loud and outspoken. Others are quieter, with a softer voice, but that doesn’t mean one is more Godly than the other.

Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ.
— Chelsea Watkins

How does this apply to dating and attractiveness? It seems that many possible suitors are turned down, because from the outside appearance, they aren’t as close to Jesus as some would like. Well if someone doesn’t meet this ridiculous new standard of Godliness, it doesn’t mean they aren’t on fire for God. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of a date just because they worship a little differently. This whole thing distracts us from what Godliness really is, prevents us from truly understanding someone, and ultimately distracts us from God himself. A man or woman of God is way more than how much they talk about Jesus, or how extravagant their worship style is. Their Godliness can be seen through their character, how they treat others, and how they treat you. It should be every Christian’s goal to be like Christ, but in this we also need to keep ourselves in check. Ask yourself: “Do I worship the same in public as I do in private? Am I trying to impress others or exalt God?” Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ. It’s important not to lose focus of that. Don’t start lifting your hands because some guy or gal might be looking. Lift them to worship the King who is already after your heart! When we start to view Godliness as an attractive quality rather than a goal we should be striving for, we shift our focus from God, and instead focus on ourselves. Then it’s not really Godliness at all. So while knowing that someone loves Jesus is an attractive thing, it shouldn’t distract us from Jesus.

In reference to someone being spiritual, instead of saying “that’s attractive”, say “that’s awesome”. Awesome that someone is unashamed to share the love, proclaim the love, and accept the love of Christ publicly. We shouldn’t judge how Godly someone is before we know their story, and we shouldn’t use our praises to bait someone into dating us. That’s not what it’s for. So even though the guy in the bro tank and snapback looks even better for having his bible with him, it’s only an outward appearance. Whether it’s for show or something genuine, it shouldn’t sway my opinion of how spiritual he is, because I don’t know him…yet.

Comment

What Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles have in common

Comment

What Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles have in common

Transient

Hi! I bet you found the sound of this article interesting! You must either:

  • Be one of those people that read every Christian article/blog and share it on your Facebook or Twitter
  • REALLY like Nutella (which I found out sells about a half-billion pounds to more than 70 countries per year and sells over $240 million per year in the US alone)  or
  • Be a hardcore “Directioner”.

I could make up this bogus article on how these three completely random things have a common bond.  And I bet if I make it sound super spiritual, you might even share it on social media. Now this isn’t coming out of pride, and I’m definitely not condemning you by any means—it’s just a trend I’m noticing. As information becomes more readily available, coupled with the new era of social media, we ALL have become journalists. We each have the ability to get on a wordpress, write a blog, post it online, and if we are lucky (assuming it has to do with dating or love), it could blow up.

I’m infatuated with understanding people and how we communicate our lives, thoughts, and emotions, which is why I have a degree in Communication. Lately, while I’ve been doing my daily social media stalking, I’ve noticed a huge increase in blogs/articles being shared on everything from finding love in your twenty-somethings to how Canada was behind 9/11. Since I am a connoisseur of this stuff, I’ll usually take a gander at what these people have to say—but what I find is simply alarming! Christian men and women are sharing posts that quite frankly are terrible pieces of advice. These pieces of advice and commentary on social issues have allowed God and Biblical principles to be misconstrued and misused to the point where the Gospel is no longer clear. The issue gets bigger because by sharing these articles, we essentially endorse it.  This has been on my heart for a long time because I understand the incredible power that communication has on our society. As Paul says in Romans 1, we have traded the truth of God for a lie, and have worshiped (and shared) created things rather than the creator. Our thoughts, actions, and opinions are literally shaped by everything we consume. So I guess the question is… are you consuming the right things?

At the end of the day, everything we do—the lives we live, the actions we display, the attitude we exude, and the things we support—are hanging on this question. Does it point people to Christ?
— Nii Abrahams

So where do we go from here? Here are 4 tips to help you evaluate the information you consume and show.

Check the source. 

Before you read any article, this should be the first thing you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s for leisure or for academic purposes. The source says it all! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Facebook arguments ERUPT over an article from The Onion—the most nonfactual, satirical, fake news site in the history of the world. Checking the source of your article or blog allows you to first filter the credibility of the subject at hand. At some point in our lives, we’ve all had that one friend you couldn’t trust a single word that came out of their mouth. They could say things like “Bro, I SWEAR I saw our librarian riding that bull at the rodeo this weekend!” or “No, I PINKY PROMISE he likes you and wants you to text him”, but you knew better. You knew not to trust whatever they said—let alone spread it. Don’t let a bad source make you look bad! You can save yourself a lot of time by simply checking the source beforehand.

Is it scriptural? 

I’ve mentioned this other times in my other articles, but I am a part of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at Missouri State University. Recently, we had the director from Central Arkansas Chi Alpha come speak to our staff to offer some advice since we are doing some reconstruction of our ministry and their Chi Alpha is extremely successful. However, before he gave his own opinions, he immediately referenced scripture and showed how the scripture dictated his personal opinions. I will never forget that. He had the opportunity to market himself and his opinions supreme, but he made sure that the words he said were a clear representation of his dynamic relationship with the Word of God. The advice we are allowing into our lives, the things we are sharing on social media, are they based in scripture? Otherwise, what truth are we endorsing? The Word of God is the foundation that we set our lives on. I dare you to read the Bible for yourself and discover the Truth that lies within. As a close friend of mine says, “There is such a thing as absolute Truth, but it won’t be found in every blog.” 

Is this advice I would share with my kids?

If you know me, I love thinking of the future—I even have a list of what I think are cool names for my future kids on my phone (make fun of me if you want, I have accepted it). Although you might think this question is awkward or premature in your life, just think about it… why consume advice for your life, if you wouldn’t even want to give it to your kids when that time comes? Some of the blogs and articles I see (especially when it comes to dating) circulating around Facebook make me cringe! If I know Zion and Jayden (that’s a sneak peek at my list) aren’t going to be reading that stuff, I shouldn’t fill my own life with it. It’s funny how when we objectively take the mindset of a parent, everything changes! 

Does it point people to Christ?

At the end of the day, everything we do—the lives we live, the actions we display, the attitude we exude, and the things we support—are hanging on this question. Not every article has to have a written alter call or a “come to Jesus moment”, but does the article or blog come from a place of love or arrogance? Servanthood or selfishness? Does it speak truth or does it have the power to deceive? As Christ-followers, the rhetoric we allow to manipulate our thoughts, actions, and opinions should always point toward the cross.  What we read and allow others to read should edify and uplift each other!

 1 John 4: 5-6 says “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”  

Now this may sound intense, but Peter is adamant when speaking to his audience about false teachings. I want you to understand that I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t read or share anything that doesn’t come from Relevant Magazine, Boundless, or Focus on the Family (that would get so boring), but understand that the viewpoints of the world will always inherently be distorted truth. Seeking advice from people is cool and all, but I know a place where the advice is always free and never wrong. You just read four pages of an article by a 22 year old who has a lifetime of spiritual growth still to do, but have you even read 4 pages of the Truth today?

Maybe I’m crazy… Maybe I’m being too critical… Maybe there really is a connection between Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles.

Nah….

Nii 


Nii holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. He is currently an intern for the City of Springfield, Missouri and is pursuing his Master's degree in Communication. In addition to writing for Insecurely, he's known to do a fantastic President Obama impression.

To know more about Nii, follow him on Twitter. 

Comment

Jessika Martin: The Beauty Battle

Comment

Jessika Martin: The Beauty Battle

It really bugs me how the world portrays beauty. They tell us that we need to be their version of beautiful so that we can succeed in life. If we don’t look the part, well, we won’t get the part. They feed us this made-up definition of beauty until it is engrained into our minds.

The grocery store turns into a walk of shame for young girls who have yet to find a sign that they really are beautiful. Because everywhere they look they see flattened abs, gorgeous hair, and seemingly flawless women. They see everything they are not.

This turns into fear. At 12 years old, girls are already feeling inadequate, needing more than the body God has given them. She’ll think that, since she doesn’t look like that model she saw on the magazine in the grocery store that she will never be worth anything in life. She is already worried that guys won’t like her, that the pretty girls will never invite her into their circle.

They are teaching her that if she isn’t the world’s standard of beauty, than she will never measure up to anything so she may as well give up now. She doesn’t want to give up though, so her life becomes a battle. An everyday struggle to become their kind of beautiful. She’ll starve herself, she’ll cover her face up with make-up, all the while simply trying to find a ray of hope that she, too, can be some sort of beautiful.

They are deceiving us, ladies. They tell us to believe the lies, that we need to strive to be beautiful, that we need to buy their products and their clothes so that we can begin to look like them.

The only true beauty comes from a life fully surrendered to Jesus Christ, where we have gotten out of the way and He can be seen in and through you

It’s so wrong, and I am so passionate about this because I believe women could do so much more with their lives if we were not constantly fighting the beauty battle. If we were not concerned about making sure our hair looked flawless before we stepped out of the door, maybe we would’ve been out in time to catch that old man on the street who needed a simple smile to help him carry on. Your simple smile.

Are you getting my drift?

We were made for more than this, ladies! We were made for so much more than fighting to be an airbrushed version of beautiful.

This is why God reassures you and me. He says,

“The king is enthralled with your beauty; honor Him, for He is you Lord.” (Psalm 45:11)

He says,

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

Don’t you see? If you want true beauty, I’ll tell you a secret. It comes from a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. It never really was yours to achieve, it comes from reflection of the Perfect One.

So are we going to rise up, women? Are we going to realize that there is more to life than the beauty battle?


I don’t care if I don’t fit your standards of beauty. The beauty I want to reflect is of the Heavenly King, not some airbrushed model in a magazine.


About the author: 

Hey! I'm Jessika. Just a young girl in love with Jesus and living to tell the story that He is writing throughout my life. I hope that my life constantly reflects the One who created me.
I hope I share Him in everything that I post, in everything that I do and say, everything. I want to become a missionary someday, actually, I hope I’m a missionary today. I just want to tell people about Jesus and make a difference in this world, however small of a difference it is.

I don't want to be average, because I wasn't created to be average. I was created to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to save the broken, and to love the unloved.

Comment

Comment

Joye Walton | Not A Mistake

I’m pacing around my long driveway yelling at God, asking the question I have asked several times, “Why did you create me like this?”

I kept my most painful secret hidden until I was eighteen—I was molested for three years of my life.
— Joye Walton

This was a normal sight for me in high school. I was convinced that I was a mistake. My emotions were all over the place, and I took the blame for the hurt that my friends felt. I was a disease.

This lie made up the foundation for the belief that I held. God can use me to help people, but I am beyond help. When I think about that now, I almost laugh. How can I show someone else the healing power of Christ when I have yet to accept it? I came to Evangel University in the fall of 2011 unaware of what God was going to do. I knew that I was called into ministry, but I still lived in the darkness of self-hate.

I kept my most painful secret hidden until I was eighteen—I was molested for three years of my life. This took place during the ages of six to nine. I didn’t tell anyone until Fall break my freshman year at Evangel. I kept this fact hidden for so long because I was convinced that if I told anyone, they would think I was a freak or a weirdo.

My story is not the stereotypical one. I was molested by someone who was only three years older than me and the same gender I am. The awesome thing about this is God’s timing. I told someone after I was already in counseling at Evangel. This way, I had already built a trust with someone who had the tools to help me with this hurt. Dealing with this hurt is what gave me the tools to recognize the lies that Satan had told me for so long.

Now, I have a passion for people who see themselves as mistakes. My goal is to let people know that they are valuable. My heart is for the broken and rejected.
— Joye Walton

In the Spring of 2012, I forgave the girl who molested me. This act was what broke the chains of self-hate. I was able to say the past hurts, but it is only the past. God gave me joy in that moment. The ironic thing was I didn’t have joy before, and my name is Joye. God knew that I would wind up being joyful, and my name was his promise that it would happen because now I embody my name. I can relate to those who believe God had an off day when they were created because that was me.

The cool thing is that is not me anymore! Yes, I still struggle with these thoughts from time to time, but they no longer have power over me because I know that they are lies! I am called by the most high God who has amazing things in store for me. He uses what the enemy intended for evil for good. He has transformed me!

Now, I have a passion for people who see themselves as mistakes. My goal is to let people know that they are valuable. My heart is for the broken and rejected. I can truly say I understand, but I can also say this doesn’t have to be you forever.


If you need to talk to someone regarding sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673. 

Comment

Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

2 Comments

Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

“I’m called to be a youth pastor!”

“I’m called to be to a worship leader!”

“I’m called to be a worker against sex trafficking!”

“I’m called to be missionary to all the little kids in Africa!”

 Sound familiar?

 I have spent my entire life in the Christian bubble. Have you ever seen the movie Bubble Boy with the illustrious Jake Gyllenhaal? Yeah, that was me—but replace the actual bubble and add church camps, Royal Rangers (Christian version of Boy Scouts), Bible Quiz, “trendy” contemporary Christian Radio, and of course numerous True Love Waits rallies.

Ever since I could remember, there has always been this idea, this elusive mystery that was known as “God’s calling”. I can’t count the hundreds of hours I’ve watched my friends at camps and conferences fervently pray that God’s voice, which we all secretly hoped sounded like Morgan Freeman, would resonate in their head proclaiming they are “called to ­­______________”. If they didn’t get it, they would leave the alter defeated, as if it were stamped on their forehead that they were a nobody in the Christian faith, destined for a life of nothingness.

I, too, was one of those kids down at the alter. Although I can’t remember the specific time or place, I do remember feeling that I was called to be a youth pastor around the age of 12 (which back then meant I was going to be “cool” and all the good Christian girls would want to date me). Fast forward a few years later and a couple interesting things happened. First, I felt led to Missouri State University instead of a Bible College like Evangel University or Central Bible College. Second, it only took a semester for me to feel that my supposed calling wasn’t youth ministry but actually college ministry. Now, four years later, I am standing at the crossroads of my life, like many of you are now, quietly wondering what my friends and I meant the billions of times we claimed we were “called” to…

You don’t have to be called to vocational ministry to still be an incredibly impactful member of God’s kingdom!
— Nii Abrahams


 What does the Gospel Say?

Luke 5:10 “…Then Jesus said to Simon (Peter), “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 

Matthew 4:19-20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Mark 1:19-20 “When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

 

In all three of these instances we see something interesting. When Jesus called the disciples he never said, “Hey Peter! Come follow me as our song coordinator!” or “Hey James and John! We need a baptism specialist and a healing specialist! You down?!”  Jesus called these disciples for one sole purpose: to be fishers of men. Jesus, in the Great Commission (Matthew 28) left us with three commands and the first of which was to simply make disciples. I don’t know if it was ever Jesus’ intent for the modern day Church to be so exclusive in that.

In a sense, we have turned God’s greatest command to be fishers of men and make disciples into a department store. We have this section exclusively for this, and that section can only be for that—and heaven forbid that this thing over here accidentally lands in that place over there.

People still ask me what I feel called to do, and although their intentions may be pure, it almost feels like some sort of holiness gauge and my answer is a badge that highlights my spiritual level. This isn’t condemnation; we all are guilty of it! I don’t know about you, but I know I have been guilty in the past of looking down on someone who didn’t necessarily feel called to any particular type of ministry. Just because it isn’t “holy” to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose in God’s beautiful tapestry!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CALLED TO VOCATIONAL MINISTRY TO STILL BE AN INCREDIBLY IMPACTFUL MEMBER OF GOD’S KINGDOM!

God’s calling has become pop culturalized in the church—it has become something of a fad to claim that you’re called to a specific type of ministry.

 

Our Response

So what happens when our alleged calling becomes our identity? There are a several things that could happen:

1.    We become mentally and spiritually pigeonholed into only serving in that type of specific ministry role

2.    We allow our pride to get in the way, and consciously or not, we judge others based on what “calling” they have or don’t have

3.    We even deny going on dates or moving forward in relationships because one person may be called to be a missionary, and the other a children’s pastor or businessman (because that couldn’t ever possibly work)

4.    We feel guilty if we ever leave or our desires begin to stray from that calling

5.    We get so focused on "the call" that we miss "the NOW".

 

The reality is, God has called us ALL to be fishers of men. Now don’t get me wrong, God has also given us incredibly unique talents and passions that gives us directions and a sense of purpose. I am by no means saying that if you have a talent for music that it is wrong to pursue worship leading or if you’re great at numbers that it is wrong to pursue accounting. But what I am saying is that if you let that calling define who you are, you’ll completely miss the bigger picture and what God has in store for you and those around you.

If you have a knack for accountancy, be the best darn accountant you can be—but don’t pass up an opportunity to be small group leader just because you don’t feel “called” to teaching. If you’re passion is music, don’t pass up an opportunity to be a Sunday School teacher just because it’s not on stage. The disciples literally set down their lives and what they were occupationally skilled at to follow Jesus.

 God called us to the moment we are in. If he opens a door for you, then he's called you to be as effective as you can right there. That door may be a season where you are a youth pastor, and the next you may be a middle school principal. But whatever door He opens, whatever season you are in, your biggest “calling” is to be a humble and obedient servant.

Many of you, including myself, are entering a new phase in life and I hope this helps. I hope this encourages you to not be discouraged if you feel like you haven’t been called to vocational ministry or feel as if you have to be called to a specific ministry. At the end of the day whether we are a college pastor or professor, a worship leader or businessman, a missionary to the little kids of Africa or beautician, we are all called to share the love and hope that is Jesus Christ!

 Nii 

2 Comments

Kirsten Stricklin: Comparison

Comment

Kirsten Stricklin: Comparison

I’m twenty-one years old, and I struggle with being insecure.

This still comes as a shock to me. I had always assumed that when I was “grown up,” I would no longer have to deal with accepting myself for who I am. Every day, though, is a matter of letting go of my own insecurities and finding my security in Christ.

I finally caught a glimpse of how much it hurts the heart of God when I wish to be anyone other than myself.
— Kirsten Stricklin

My insecurities began, like many people’s, in middle school. I was shy. I sported hormonal acne-prone skin, slightly greasy hair, and a large gap between my two front teeth, and my fashion sense was a bit – undeveloped (to put it nicely). I had just started a new school, so I was struggling to make friends. In my eyes, the girls at my new school were perfect – they had close friends, cute clothes, and even boyfriends. And then there was me, with no friends, old clothes, and very boyfriend-less. As a result, I felt much less than perfect, undeserving of close friends, and fairly worthless most of the time.

I began to compare myself to those girls whom I viewed as perfect. I would see girls with silky blonde hair and begin to hate my own brown locks; I would see girls with flawless skin and, consequently, coat my face with makeup to hide the acne bumps and red splotches. I wanted a model body and an outgoing personality and for people to love me, just like they loved those seemingly “perfect” girls. The comparison battle was an endless cycle. Slowly, without realizing it, comparing myself became an addiction. Every day, I would compare myself to girls at my school, in books, in movies, and in magazines, imagining exactly what I would change about myself in order to be more like them. I began to feel unhappy, disappointed with myself, and thoroughly insecure.

Truly, comparison is deadly. Once we begin comparing ourselves to other people, it becomes almost impossible to stop. Even after my skin cleared up, the oils in my hair disappeared, and my braces worked a miracle on my teeth, I continued to compare myself. I never felt beautiful. I spent all of my time wishing that I was someone else altogether. I desired – even prayed – for a personality transplant, for a supernatural plastic surgery, for whatever it would take to make me anything other than myself.

It was my senior year of high school before things started to change. I finally began to quiet myself before God, and that made all of the difference. He began to whisper to me the truth about who I am. His voice was never loud, demanding, or accusing. He said lovingly that He sees me as a flawless creation, whole and fully perfect in every way. My personality, my looks, and everything about me was designed for a reason, even if I can’t see that reason yet. I finally caught a glimpse of how much it hurts the heart of God when I wish to be anyone other than myself. His voice was a sweet undertone in my day, gently speaking truth to my heart and breaking my addiction of comparing myself.

I can’t say that things are easy now – they aren’t. Comparison truly is like a drug, and it is one that does not loosen its grip easily. Every day, though, I choose to walk in the fact that I was designed by a perfect Creator who does not make mistakes. I am perfectly and wonderfully made. I am chosen. I am called. It is those truths that allow me to be secure – secure, fully and totally, in Christ.

Comment

David Krstevski: A Call to Integrity

Comment

David Krstevski: A Call to Integrity

The call to live with integrity is a call to us all. It is a call to search our minds and our hearts. It is a call to examine our actions and to ensure that they are in alignment with God’s plan for ourselves and the world that we live in.
— David Krstevski

I know there has been a lot of talk about the lack of integrity or vice versa in many areas of both our private and public lives. It is of special concern in areas such as politics, economics, business, journalism the media, and even in church. It's often discussed in a psychological and moral sense. There must be integrity within as well as beyond in all areas of life. The thing is that there is no short cut to becoming a person of integrity. It is a journey with all the twists and turns that you could imagine. It is not a simple destination.

What is integrity? Integrity stems from the Latin word “integer,” which means “whole” and “entire”, “unbroken” and “consistent”. This definition calls us to look deeper within ourselves in an attempt to get in touch with the Divine source and foundation of who we are. By connecting with this Divine (GOD) we allow His Divine presence and His power to transform our lives from the inside out. Love, justice, peace, compassion, and wisdom begin to flow out and influence all areas of our daily lives. In this way we begin to live a life of integrity in harmony with our values based on God’s Word.

Now, talking about getting there is easier than actually getting there. We live in a culture that is saturated with false distractions of every kind imaginable. We are faced with transparent choices in the media wherever we go and there aren't many beacons that guide people to make choices in their lives that reflect a life of integrity. God's voice often gets drowned out by the clutter, noise and temptations in our everyday lives. But, praise God that his light is the brightest and stands out above all types of distractions that we have and will face.

The call to live with integrity is a call to us all. It is a call to search our minds and our hearts. It is a call to examine our actions and to ensure that they are in alignment with God's plan for ourselves and the world that we live in. This will never come without a cost, but it will surely pay off in the long run. Hey, nobody said success was easy. The reason why the majority of people are not successful in whatever area you want to talk about is simply because they did not do what it took to become successful. It takes a lot, but with conscious effort every single day it can be done.

Some of us may be foreign to this idea of integrity and some may already have a pretty good grasp of what it is. However, we can all look around ourselves to find some examples of lived integrity and be thankful to those who have had the courage to exemplify it. People often have “spoken” out courageously against war, nuclear weapons, abortion, abuse of power and greed. Many have questioned why two-thirds of the world goes to bed hungry every night when there is more than enough for all of everyone’s needs.

I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
— 1 Chronicles 29:17


The thing is, when we choose to live integral lives we go from speaking to acting. Our lives will reflect and declare our true selves that are rooted in the Holy Spirit. Only in this way will we be able to establish a world of truth and justice for all to see. This is an ongoing journey of trials and growth; a lifelong constant examination of our values and making sure we live with integrity in our everyday lives.

With the help of the divine source from within (GOD) there is little that we cannot do. The task may look daunting but our God is greater.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.
— Psalm 119:1

David Krstevski is a senior at Evangel University. He recently acquired his ministry credentials with the Assemblies of God and plans on spending his life ministering the incredible news of God's word to others. 

You can learn more about David by following him on Twitter

Comment

Comment

31 Days of Difference | Carefree & Product Free

You are beautiful NO matter what. Be confident of the person God created you to be. So don’t only leave the make up off, but lets leave the hair products on the shelf for the day. (Boys, this includes you too).

If you are anything like me, this day is not exactly easy. Your image matters to you, and that’s okay! Beauty is wonderful, it is a part of God’s creation—you are God’s beautiful creation. The issue is not thinking makeup, hair products, or clothing make you look nice. The issue arises when those things are more important to you than your beauty on the inside. Think about it: if you didn’t have pop culture telling you what “beauty” is, you would just be you. You wouldn’t worry about makeup, hairstyles, or clothing; you would recognize the beauty in who you are. We see this in 1 Peter 3:3-4,“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.” God has wrecked my heart to recognize that who I am on the inside far outweighs what I could ever be on the outside. (You can read more about my personal journey on my Insecurely blog: http://www.insecurelymovement.com/blog/2013/06/23/emily-taylor-beauty-is-________)

         Today is a day to come to the reality that you are beautiful just the way you are—without touch ups, pin backs, or jewels. So my challenge for you today is this: take the time you would normally spend on primping and spend it on beautifying your heart through prayer, reading the Bible, or simply making a note to stick on your mirror to recognize the beauty that you behold. Take off the products and recognize the undeniable beauty within your very being.

Emily Taylor

 

day 4.jpg

Comment

31 Days of Difference | Forgiveness to Freedom

Comment

31 Days of Difference | Forgiveness to Freedom

Forgiveness. It's not simple, and it can seem impossible to do on a whim. But today, we challenge you to do just that. Forgiveness is a choice. It isn't saying "I wasn't hurt." Or  "What you did didn't matter." It's a way of saying, "I am strong enough, and I am capable of moving on. I am no longer held captive."

The unforgiving mind is full of fear, torn with doubt, confused about itself;  it is afraid, angry, and weak. And as sad as it is to say humanity is born into this. Bitterness and unforgiveness is innate; we are born with it. We are born with the instinct to look out for ourselves, for our pride, for our well-being, and we'd rather be dead than let someone take any of that from us.
However, forgiveness is acquired. It is DIFFERENT than what we are born to know. So today, show the immense difference God has made in your life, and forgive someone.

-xoxo from the girl who learned her lesson,
Nicole Finnell

day 3.jpg

Comment

31 Days of Difference | Go Beyond Your Boundaries

Comment

31 Days of Difference | Go Beyond Your Boundaries

Today is the first day of the 31 Days of Difference, but it's not just that. It's the beginning of a journey. 

When we were brainstorming this event, one thing was clear. We wanted a new start - a new beginning with a new purpose. That's where 31 Days of Difference came from. 

That's not what we're talking about here, though, is it? It's today's theme. Go beyond your boundaries. 

Why? Give yourself a new perspective. What better way to do that then do something you're not used to? So, get outside of your comfort zone. Go do something fun or crazy or exciting or scary. Go beyond your boundaries. 

Welcome to this journey. Let's discover!

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
— Walt Disney
day 1.jpg

 

 

Comment

I am nothing but value.

Comment

I am nothing but value.

In the moments of our greatest strength, we become the most weak; it's when we have it altogether that we feel most incomplete.

We tend to break so easily in a world so small compared to a God so big. It's as if we forget that He is ours and we are His.

 

Why is it that we feel defined by our makings rather than our maker? That through these creations we convince our hearts are better.

That somehow, we find assurance from what's around our built up walls ,instead of the One who's within us that's held us through it all.

 

That in the moments we begin to gradually fall apart, we run to the things that shattered us instead of the One who mends our fragile heart.

You see, reality isn't always as it seems to be; no, God has much greater than we can even see.

 

Life is a journey and every journey is a dream, waiting to be discovered and waiting to be believed.

For better or for worse, our words may say. But in those times of trouble, our promise fades away.

 

When the truth is, we are nothing. But these are the words we don't want to hear. We strive to be more, but God makes it clear.

We aren't enough because He is. And because of His love, we are called His.

 

We are chosen, crowned, branded by His love. But we try to find our worth in quotes, gifts, and love.

We wait forever for this drastic change in our life, overseeing the fact that our revolution lives inside.

 

We have been built up in such a lie that our heart has become blind, to forget that our value was bought when Jesus died.

So stand up! And rebel against the lies, the hurt, and the pain. They won't make you stronger; they're not for your gain.

 

Give it all to God, and He'll transform your heart. He brings freedom from bondage that sets you apart.

Trust beyond understanding for in seeking comes truth, for your value is found in your seeking, and patience is a virtue.

 

It's a step-by-step process, where God writes on your heart, with mountains and valleys, you'll discover Whose you are.

This same love that made you creates you in truth. You just have to believe that Jesus died for you.

 

When you begin to grasp how He paid the highest price, you'll begin to believe the value you've always had inside.

You're a treasure, a jewel, with imperishable beauty. There is no flaw, no small mistake, you're made insecurely.

 

You are loved, you are valued, and you are beautiful, but you are nothing without the God who gave you His all.

Because you were worth it; you always have been. You just have to see your true beauty lives within.

Believe it, accept it, and then you'll start to see, who you really are opposed to what you were supposed to be.

 

"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns."Psalm 46:5

Comment

His Side: Q & A with Josh

Comment

His Side: Q & A with Josh

The following blog is is a continuation of the Question & Answer series. Josh Buckner, creator of Insecurely: A Spoken Word and our motto "You are loved. You are valued. You are beautiful." answer questions that you, the readers, have asked. 

From a guy's perspective, what should you do when you really like a guy but they are blind to your interest?

I think this depends on where the friendship is now. If you are good friends with this guy then I'll quote Dylan Nieman who answered it perfectly in a previous blog. "If he’s really a valuable friend to you, you should tell him how you feel. If he shares the same feelings you do, you’ve just made life a lot easier for both of you. If he doesn’t, you can move on with your friendship and be mature enough to not let things be awkward between you." …that is if ya'll are already good friends. If not, you first need to build a friendship with them. This will not only open opportunities for you to let them know how you feel but also let you know if you have those feelings for them or the idea of them. However you go about it, remember Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

If a girl can't get over her insecurities, do you find her even more ugly?

No. Absolutely not. Simply because we ALL have them and sometimes they aren't things we can just get over in the blink of an eye. Will I say that confidence is attractive in a woman? Sure. That just means that she loves herself the way God created her to be which is exactly how a man should love her. The only person YOUR insecurities have an effect on is YOU. You should worry less about someone else not liking that you have insecurities and think more about the fact that your insecurities are you not liking who God created you to be. 1 Samuel 16:7  "...People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

The world has placed such low expectations on guys; however, God has set high Biblical standards for them. What is the best way to encourage guys to become the men God intended them to be?

Very well said and a great question! I'm going to be straight up and honest with this one. I don't think the expectation on guys is from the world alone, but from what men of the world have made us out to be. Unfortunately, a man after God's heart isn't the most popular thing these days, but we are not an extinct species. It's up to us as leaders to bring this level of expectation back and, as you said, its up to you as women after God's heart to encourage us in that. How? Simple. You cannot give up hope and look at men the same way the world does. You know the level of expectation we should be held to and hold us to it. Accountability and encouragement go hand in hand. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Don't give up on a man who doesn't seem to be living it out but encourage them to be all they can be for God.

What do you think of girls that are older (senior in high school or older) that have never had boyfriends? A lot of people say that means run?

I have to say that I completely disagree with that statement. There shouldn't be a "dating experience requirement." I mean, it's not like you're logging up hours of practice for "the one." In fact, I would say that I respect that girl even more for saving herself like that. To me, it means she knows what she is looking for and is trusting God to provide. People need to realize that dating shouldn't be a game. It isn't something you just go out and do with anyone you feel like. The bottom line is.. you date to marry. Now that's not to say you've got to marry that next person you're dating, but why else would you date? Speaking from experience, one of my best friends was the exact same way. She didn't date all through high school and knew that God had someone out there special for her. Then she met him (another one of my good friends) and now they are engaged to be married this coming May! In my opinion, they couldn't be more perfect for each other. That's all because she held out and knew that God would provide. A girl who doesn't date a lot isn't a red flag. It's a sign of self respect.

I'm so insecure but I can't let people know, so I act like I don't have a care in the world. I just don't feel like I'm worthy of a relationship because I'm so inadequate. What do guys think of that? Do they feel the same way?

Let's take this one step by step. First, you have to admit your insecurities so that they aren't a part of you anymore. That's what Rebel: Insecurely Day was all about. They don't define you. Secondly, It doesn't make sense not to have a care in the world about them because they are affecting who you are. You must care enough about them to say "You won't tell me who I am because God has told me that I am beautiful." Thirdly, please don't feel that you aren't worthy of a relationship because you are inadequate. God has made you so much more than that. You are not just your mirror's image. 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us "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." The person that God created you to be is more than enough for anything or anyone of this world. You are worthy of whatever God gives you or else, why would he give it to you. Fourth, do guys feel this way? Oh yes. Inadequacy is not just a one sided battle. It is something that I would say almost everyone deals with at some point. Men have standards and expectations we are supposed to meet in society as well and it has just as big of an affect on us. Next time you feel that way, remember the person God has intended you to be with is probably feeling the same way. You are not alone and you are always enough. Love yourself and know that God has such big plans for your future and all your endeavors.

You are loved. 

You are valued. 

You are beautiful. 

Josh Buckner

Comment

Thank you, #rebelinsecurely

Comment

Thank you, #rebelinsecurely

You know how it feels to plan and plan and plan and work and plan some more and then it happens and you finally just let and a breath and think, "Wow. Did that just happen?"

That's us tonight; myself and the Insecurely team. We are exhausted and happy and exhausted some more. But, I can't let myself crash tonight without letting you know how incredibly amazing each one of you are. 

That fact that you took the time, energy, money, and strength  to participate in such a scary day means so much. To you, it may have been a new, interesting thing, or something much more. To us, it changed our lives and encouraged so many souls!

Do you know what you did today? 

You changed the world.  

Yes, I 100% believe that. You changed the world, because you know what the world is? The world is people. You stood up for someone. You stood up for yourself. 

You were a part of changing the entire world.     

That. Is. Beautiful.  

 

So, here's to you shy, scared, happy, overbearing, silly, brave, exciting, sad, courageous, incredible person: You're a world changer. And this, well...

We are Insecurely Movement, and this is Rebel. 

 

Hannah & the Insecurely Team

 

Comment

Yesica Goblirsch: Say goodbye to insecurity

Comment

Yesica Goblirsch: Say goodbye to insecurity

Beauty is something we all strive for, but too often do we settle for a "worldly" version of beauty, as opposed to the true beauty given to us by God.

If I can be totally honest, two of my biggest struggles were lust and feeling beautiful. At a young age, I was taken advantage of by someone close to my family. As I grew older, I became aware and understood what he did to me. I felt like my purity was robbed and I struggled after this for years. I would exercise more than any normal person should, and if I didn't do that I would eat whatever I pleased, and continue on in this roller coaster called life. Trying my hardest to fully satisfy the deepest longings within my soul. I still believed in God, but I didn't fully know and understand His love for me. I was able to pull myself together and keep myself together, but I struggled with lust. That was my biggest struggle.

Although most never knew about my inner struggles, living in bondage to brokenness, to sin, to shame and to temptation truly held me back from my full potential in Christ. Even more so it held me back from the overwhelming, perfect, all-encompassing love of Christ. I didn't value myself and my decisions reflected lacked the fact that I did not possess self-respect.

However, a few years ago, God made himself more real than ever before. On the outside I looked fine, but on the inside I was struggling and God knew that. God saw and knew my heart. He had enough of seeing me like this, and met me where I was. In my brokenness, God loved and restored me. God held my heart as He pieced me back together. Every chain and lie that was holding me back was broken. My burdens and heaviness was lifted and I felt free again. The fogginess that blurred my vision was cleared and I could see the light, grace and love of Jesus that had been all around from the very start of time. It's amazing. After years of pursuing the world, the moment I fully embraced God changed my life forever.

I'm not sure what you're going through as you read a tidbit of my story, but I want you to know that you were made for SO much more! This world isn't always the nicest and too often do we allow ourselves to get bogged down by the world. God did not intend for us to live a life of insecurities! He sent His only Son so that we could have freedom! Do you understand that? I didn't fully grasp the significance of Jesus' sacrifice. He gave HIS LIFE so we could choose to live. Jesus was fully aware that there was a chance His sacrifice would go unnoticed, that some people will choose to follow the world instead of Him.

However, he thought that the possibility of us having freedom in His perfect love, just the possibility to choose life, was worth it. Too often we fall beneath the lies of satan and this world, I know I did. But God loves you so much and He wants you to believe His truth, that you are beautiful and were created with a divine purpose. Psalm 45:11 says to "Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Believe that you are beautiful, because it's true. Believe that you have immense purpose, because your life is significant and you have the ability to be a world changer!

Before God delivered me, I had to stand up with my chains on. Any insecurities, fears and doubts you may be dealing with are chains. I encourage you to stand up with your chains on and find truth and freedom in Jesus! You are beautiful! You are the apple of God's eye. You are a princess because you are a daughter of the King Most High. Let God shower you with His love because Jesus literally died so that you could experience the love and presence of God fully.

It's time to say goodbye to insecurities. Stand up with your chains on and find freedom.

 

Comment

His Side: Q&A with Dylan

2 Comments

His Side: Q&A with Dylan

Let me start by saying that I am not an expert and my advice is by no means perfect or even universal. My thoughts come from making mistakes, listening to mentors, thoughtful prayer and careful study of scripture. While I have learned a lot about life through these experiences, my journey has just begun. Some of these answers may fill you with joy and be exactly what you were looking for while others may offend you and leave you with more questions. Whatever your interpretation, you may always reach out to me on my twitter or the contact form on my personal web page and I will always take time to respond. Now that all of that is out of the way, here are the questions!

I'm really into this guy, but I think he's into someone else and he's a valuable friend to me. What should I do?

If he’s really a valuable friend to you, you should tell him how you feel. If he shares the same feelings you do, you’ve just made life a lot easier for both of you. If he doesn’t, you can move on with your friendship and be mature enough to not let things be awkward between you.

Guys say, "you look beautiful without makeup." but I think it's always just because they want you to feel better. Honestly, how do you feel about makeup?

I can’t speak for all guys, but I can honestly say that I believe girls don’t need makeup to be beautiful. I think any real man would agree. God made you in His image, and while I think makeup can enhance beauty, it can’t replace your natural beauty. There will come a day when your husband will see you without makeup and he will still love you because you are you, flaws and all.

I am 20 years old and really want to find someone and settle down. Is that too early?

The short answer is no. I have several friends who have been married at 19 and 20 and were mature and ready for that step in their lives. However, I will give you a few words of caution. 1. Don’t get so focused on trying to find someone that you settle for less than what you deserve. 2. Don’t get so focused on trying to find someone that you romanticize all of your relationships with the opposite gender. 3. Live in the now. You’re young and now is the perfect time to have fun without having to worry about balancing your job, your marriag

e, your kid

s, and other commitments. Remember Romans 12:2.

Do guys really struggle with the way girls dress? If I dress too modest no guy will ever notice me.

While not all guys struggle with the ways girls dress, there are many that do. It is scientifically proven that guys are more visually stimulated than girls (although recent studies have shown that our culture is literally rewiring girls’ brains to be more visually stimulated). You’ve probably heard this statement but it really is true. “Modest is hottest.” When you pick your outfit in the morning your goal should never be to make a guy notice you. This isn’t just coming from me, this is a principle we can see all over the Bible (1 Timothy 2:9). When the right man comes along, it won’t take a revealing outfit to get him to notice you.

Where do you draw the line between "accepting" yourself and striving for the person God made you to be... i.e. being overweight. Do I strive to be in shape? Is being overweight a sin?

Let’s start with the first part. I think there is a difference between accepting yourself and striving for the person God made you to be.  We can accept and be secure in the fact that we are a child of God, made perfect in His image, while still

recognizing that we are continually on a journey to be more like Christ each day. Now let’s address your second question. While I do not believe being overweight is inherently sinful, I do believe that it can be an outward evidence of sin. For example, the Bible tells us that laziness is sinful, gluttony is sinful, selfish indulgence is sinful, and deliberate misuse of God’s temple is sinful. These are all lifestyle choices that can inherently lead to being overweight, being unhealthy, or being emotionally distressed. That being said, there are also health conditions and other factors that can lead to these conditions and if you are experiencing this I believe God understands your situation and will meet you where you are.

How do I

combat the fact that I am not sexually attracted to men? What does this mean, and is it Biblically wrong to be attracted to other women?

I believe the question you are trying to ask is whether or not homosexuality is sinful. My answer is yes. The Bible defines marriage as the sexual union between a man and a woman and prohibits extramarital union, including homosexual ones. Aside from marriage or sexual unions, the Bible implicitly includes homosexuality in its prohibition of sexual immorality. This is not only referenced in the Old Testament under the old covenant but also in the New Testament under the new covenant that was established through Christ (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:18, 22, 24, 25; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:25−27; and 1 Corinthians 6:9−11). The best way to walk in the Perfect Will of God is by spending time studying scripture and also spending time in prayerful conversation with God.

Be Blessed,

Dylan Nieman

 

2 Comments

4 Comments

Michaela Smith: To the women of today

DSC_4847Granny Michaela, grandma, and little old lady were all names I was called in high school. No, I was not over the age of 65, and no I did not have graying hair. I was called those names because I refused to conform to what my high school peers wanted me to wear; I refused to reveal my body. I remember one day during sophomore year of high school; I had gone shopping and purchased a gray, flowery sweater I thought was super cute. I walked into school the next Monday wearing the new sweater feeling confident, until I heard my friend say, “Why does she wear the ugliest clothes? Seriously, it’s like she gets them from her grandma’s closet.” After hearing those comments I felt defeated, and hung the sweater back in my closet to never wear again during my high school years.

This conversation I overheard was just the beginning.

Throughout the next three years “friends” said to me, “Michaela, pull your shirt down!” “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” “Stop being so conservative, no wonder you’re not dating anyone, guys like to see skin.” These comments bothered me, and I always felt as if I was being judged and attacked for the way my society at the time wanted me to be…that I was disappointing them.

I wish I could say that I brushed those comments off, and that I continued to live my life without my peers affecting my choices. Unfortunately, this blog can’t end that way.

Daily, I looked myself over in the mirror. I thought to myself, “Will I get made fun of today for wearing this?” “I hope no one says anything today to me about my shirt…” “Maybe I’ll just wear my jacket all day so that people won’t notice what I’m wearing.” However, I should have been thinking less about what I wore, and more about empowering my friends to change the way they saw their outward appearance.

Now that I think back to my high school years, I am deeply troubled that my young women peers viewed their bodies as display cases for their assets. They wanted to be seen as sexy, provocative, and immodest, instead of being lovely, respectable, and empowering.

Ladies, your body is a temple of the Lord. “Know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” 1st Corinthians 6:19

 

To the inspiring women of today,

Only you can change the way you see yourselves. Do not, for a second, think that you have to dress immodestly to be seen as beautiful. Instead, motivate and inspire young women around you who so desperately want to be noticed by their bodies, and not by their hearts. If I could change the way I reacted to my peers in high school, I would tell them that I dress this way so that I will not cause men to falter in lust. I would tell them that I dress this way to assure myself that I am a respectable woman who is not to be seen as a provocative icon.

Ladies, set yourself apart not only by the words you speak and the actions you take, but by the clothes you wear. You can be a Godly example to women around who struggle with immodesty, the ones that are looking for affection by using their body as the tool.

Embrace the body God has given you, and never believe that you have to conform to the immodesty that your friends want you to fall prey to. You are too smart, too loved, and too respected to less than honor God’s image of yourself.

So, be the influence on your peers of modesty, and guide them to understand that revealing clothes should not be tolerated amongst one another. With your help, we can help to change the society we live in today, and create an image of beauty that is pleasing to God.

 

Love,

Michaela

 

4 Comments

His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

7 Comments

His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

his side header

Can Guys and Girls Be "Just Friends"?

Nii Abrahams

It’s a picturesque fall afternoon. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her from across the park. He notices what she has and realizes he has to have it. He immediately stops what he’s doing and sheepishly approaches. She sees him coming and begins to lock her eyes with his. As he nervously steps into the sandbox, he musters up the courage and asks: “Can I play with you?”

What happened to the sandbox experience? Do you remember those times when guys and girls had no expectations of each others’ company other than the possible risk of getting cooties (which we all knew you could easily wipe off)?

Somewhere between recess and freshman orientation we’ve turned the innocence of coed relationships into this intensely awkward samba of mixed feelings and sexual frustrations. One of the biggest beliefs that society has (especially since coming to college) is that guys and girls cannot just be friends.

Apparently, guys have this innate desire to pursue every girl they meet, and girls can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with a guy because they said “hi” to them. The only thing is that God didn’t design us to live in this tension. He created men and women uniquely — each with distinctive dispositions, perceptions of the world, and social realities. Girls like to eat spaghetti on Venus, while guys like to eat the occasional waffle on Mars (I think that’s how the phrase goes… or whatever).

We were meant to grow and learn from each other in a harmonious relationship. However, because this concept has been severely warped, it affects how we see ourselves—as objects that have to be admired by the opposite sex rather than fully understanding what we can contribute to a healthy co-ed relationship. So how can we get back to where God intended for us to be?

 

Intentionality

No romantic relationship is just randomly created. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody either did something, said something, or acted in a way that gave the other person a green light to pursue. I’ve seen too many people on one side confused and the other heart-broken because his words claimed “just friends”, but her text message inbox inferred otherwise.

People, especially but not exclusively guys, have this habit of putting themselves in relationship-like situations with no intention of pursuing. Maybe this rings a bell — have you every invited a guy or girl to “just watch a movie” with you alone? How about going on a “simple walk”? Maybe multiple study sessions when it’s just the two of you, or even texting late into the night every night? Unfortunately, we are all guilty of these actions in some shape or form. The worst part is we act so clueless when the other person acts on those perceived pursuit signals! We don’t want to take ownership of the situations we place ourselves in. And if you find yourself in that situation, don’t think “I’m not ready for commitment” is your get out of jail free card. Take ownership and be real.

When we allow someone who we have no intention of pursuing become an emotional crutch, or dare I say, pseudo boyfriend or girlfriend, we are being deceitful and setting ourselves up for failure. Let’s face it. College students are notorious for using their friends as substitute boyfriend or girlfriend. You might know them as your “favorite cuddle buddy” or maybe even “best friend.”

Understand Unique Perspectives

I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible community of guys and girls while at school. The best part is, I truly value my friends that are girls. In my quest for finding my Topanga (Boy Meets World), I have said and done some really stupid things. It’s not enough that I am a guy, which means I’m genetically disposed to Foot-In-Mouth Disease, but I haven’t had a lot of dating experience.

If it weren’t for the unique perspectives of my female friends, I would not be the guy I am today. Their advice on not just dating but life in general has been invaluable. Their encouragement to me and my encouragement to them isn’t flirting. It’s a genuine respect and mutual love. We both learn and grow from each other.

You see, our human nature only gives us one vantage point. Having the opportunity to see through another’s perspective is incredibly beneficial! Through that benefit we have a better understanding of what our friends of the opposite gender go through. I have had some incredibly deep talks with these girls and didn’t feel that I had to instantly pursue and marry them!

I have a hard time thinking that God created beings that were supposed to coexist in tension. When God made man and woman, he made them perfectly in his image. If we start viewing the pursuit of coed relationships as an act of worship, we will begin to restore the true intention of God’s desire for male and female relationships.

Even Jesus had female friends he had no intention of pursuing. I know we like to imagine Jesus and his disciples rolling around being holy bros while racing camels and whatever else they did back then, but in the Bible we see he deeply cared for Martha and Mary. In one account, he went out of his way to visit them, and another he showed great remorse when he saw them hurting because their brother Lazarus had died.

Like a lot of things, society has warped what God has intended to be pure. Especially in our young adult years, we are told that members of the opposite sex are more like objects rather than individuals. Guy or girl, don’t let anyone tell you that the opposite sex doesn’t deserve to be treated with the utmost respect!

Now in these co-ed friendships, we have to understand there has to be boundaries. As young adults, the level of accountability and the information we share should be a lot different than our same-sex friendships. Even more so, those relationships have to change when our friends or ourselves get into romantic relationships. I could say so much more about this, but that topic alone could be its own blog!

Knowing Your Worth

The only way we can truly allow ourselves to just be friends with the opposite sex is if we are confident in who we are. I’m not talking about confidence that comes from wearing your favorite outfit (I know we all that that one sweater that makes us feel like we’re invincible), but I’m talking about the confidence that comes from knowing that our identity isn’t dependent on other people.

When we rely on others to fulfill our self-worth, guy or girl, we use whomever we can find to attempt to fill that void. This always results in using our friends in a negative way. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend may be nice, but it won’t complete you! When we stop looking at every person of the opposite sex as a potential Mr. or Mrs­­­. _______________ , we are giving ourselves the freedom to explore, create, and utilize the benefits of a healthy co-ed friendship without having the pressure of trying to impress that person.

Isn’t that what friendship is? The ability to jam out to One Direction in your car without fear of persecution, or attempting to talk in a Jamaican accent all day long — just to be your goofy self? If who you are is enough for God, then it’s sure good enough for others.

You should be loved in your friendships.

You should be valued in your friendships.

You should be considered beautiful in your friendships.

Nii

2013-08-20 18.17.16Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.

 

7 Comments

Comment

A His Side Response: Ladies, it's our job too.

DSC_9784Last week, we featured a His Side blog by Joe Bulger called His Side: For the Guys. Tonight, we feature a response by our very own Emily Taylor, social media staff member.

Today our society has placed a lot of fault upon the men of our culture. We try to place all the blame upon the men when we, as women, are taking little responsibility for a problem that is not one-sided.

We must value the men around us enough to do whatever it takes to direct them in a path towards Christ. Here is where the issue lies: we focus more on turning his gaze towards ourselves than turning his gaze towards Christ. We are called to build each other up in faith, not tear each other down! "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." (1 Thess 5:11). True men are not looking for a stumbling block, but rather a solid rock in whom they can rely upon!

How we treat men is how they are going to treat us back. Our actions speak volumes into a guy's ear telling him exactly how we want to be treated. Flirting with every guy, or even just one guy, who you know is not the one for you is simply selfish. Some will say, "I just have a flirty personality." I'm just going to be real here and say that notion is absolutely and totally ridiculous.

Ladies, we know when we are flirting with a guy and each little thing we do makes up a perception of who we are to him in his mind. This goes along with the way we dress. Men are much more visual than women. Do our clothing choices reflect the purity of our hearts? Are the skirts and tops we are wearing reflecting a pure spirit? Would you wear that outfit on a father/daughter date or to hang out with your brother? Are you dressing to draw attention to your body or your heart's beauty? Are we showing these men that we are solid, confident, women of God or are we telling them that we are broken, incompetent, and easy? …(and if brokenness is the place we are in, then know that no man will be able to mend our hearts aside from Christ alone.)

Where are the women of God? If we want an Ephesians 5, we better be growing into a Proverbs 31. Don't settle for less. Men, don't settle for less than a Proverbs 31, because they are out there waiting for you. Is your woman growing you closer to God or making you fall farther? Is she a stumbling block or a solid rock to lean on? Does she respect you, encourage you, and lead you on a path pursing righteousness, or is she tearing you down?

To fix this problem we must recognize our worth in Christ so that we are able to recognize the worth others have in Christ. When we do this, we are able to treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Ladies, we desire to be with a man who portrays a Godly lifestyle, yet we ourselves have not met the mark of who Christ designed us to be. We settle and in turn so do the men. We sit and demand more from men, yet often we are the ones who give in first. It's a cycle of complacency that will never end unless someone chooses to rise above. Will it be you?

Ladies, let's stop blaming the men for treating us disrespectfully and let us demand dignity by our actions. We cannot be used if our actions refuse to allow anything but the best. Let's be the change. Ladies, it's our job too.

To connect with Emily, follow her on Twitter.

 

Comment

Comment

Crissy Morein: Just be confident already

DSC_9744Confidence. That is one word that has always challenged me. Growing up I always wanted to be confident. I would always look at older girls and how they stood up tall seeming completely secure in who they were. Of course, I never felt like I could stand up straight and tall because I didn’t think I had anything to be secure in. I didn’t have confidence in my beauty, in my personality, in my talents, in my dreams, in my body, in my words. I was just young, and didn’t think anyone thought of me as anything special. In middle school and high school I would see the popular girls around me talk to anyone with confidence. Teachers, parents, guys, the principal, and I felt like I couldn’t do that. I saw the guys at school only giving attention to the popular girls and couldn’t understand why. Was I not pretty enough, or cool enough? Why didn’t any guys pursue me? The summer before my junior year of high school I had a change of heart. The Lord really showed me the value I have in His eyes. I realized that confidence comes to those who know who they are in Christ. I am confident in Christ so I can be completely confident in who I am, because God created me exactly how he wanted me to be. From then on I carried myself differently. Of course, I still have insecurities that I deal with just like many of you, but I don’t sit around wishing I had the confidence of that girl, or the beautiful hair that she has, or the incredible speaking skills he has. I am not completely secure in who I am just as Crissy Morein; but Crissy Morein, daughter of the King. That is someone I can be completely confident in.

So, if you’re reading this blog, let me just remind you of some things. Confidence is attractive. Guys and girls look for confidence in a spouse. I know that is one of the top things I notice when talking to a guy. If they are confident it doesn’t matter how weird, or silly, or crazy they are, it just matters that they are confident in that.

Confidence also shows maturity. When you reach the place in your relationship with Christ that all you need is His approval you have reached an incredible level of maturity with the Lord. That shines through in your life.

Lastly, Confident people change the world. I know I have some pretty big dreams that God has laid on my heart, and if I wasn’t confident in who I am I would never strive to see those dreams become a reality. Think about all the world changers you know or have heard of. They were all confident in the dream they had and strived to achieve it.

When you are secure in who you are in Christ, confidence will shine through you. Confidence is an incredible quality to have and through Jesus Christ we can have that quality. Don’t forget: YOU ARE MORE THAN A CONQUEROR THROUGH CHRIST! You don’t have to conquer your insecurities because Jesus Christ already did that for you. You simply have to believe and be confident. Jesus overcame it all for YOU. You are loved. You are valued. You are beautiful.

Comment