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teenage

Jessika Martin: The Beauty Battle

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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.

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I am nothing but value.

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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

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His Side: Q&A with Dylan

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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

 

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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.

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His Side: I love you already

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I love you already.

Josh Buckner

I'm going to take a different swing at insecurities. You know - just as well as I know - that our insecurities go much deeper than the way we look or what is on the outside. Sometimes they have such a hold on us that they become who we are. ...Especially around the opposite sex.

NO. I know what you're thinking. This is not a blog about dating or Godly dating, courtship, waiting or whatever cheesy names you want to come up with for one christian guy spending time with one christian girl. This is more about just being who you are.

It is so obvious sometimes, from an outsider's point of view, how fake people can be around  just to impress. The list of possible characters is endless. Anything from being rude, to sacrificing morals for acceptance, to the worst.. playing dumb.

I can't count how many times I've heard voices change or attitudes completely transform when someone else walks into the room. If anyone knows me, they know that I really just don't understand that.

I'm going to try not to be very wordy with this so let me just say what I need to say (my apologies for getting that John Mayer song stuck in your head).

Over this past summer I went on a... well, I guess you could call it a date. In reality, it was just a little dinner at a steakhouse with an awesome and beautiful girl. Neither of us had never been to this place and thought we'd give it a try. We made our way in, were seated, and the night had already started. The conversation alone was full of depth and laughter because we weren't trying to hide anything or be "romantic." We were just being ourselves and having a good time!

The waitress came around our orders for our FOOD! YES FOOD, LADIES! You know? The thing your body needs to survive? Well, me being a guy, I had no problems. I ordered wings and fries and was ready to have a ball. Then, it was her turn.

Let me pause here. The next part of this story is included to show how awesome the following event was. Now, back to the story.

She asked what the waitress recommended, as we had never been before, and the waitress started on a roll. She was explaining all these burgers and sandwiches, and then said this, "..and if you aren't looking for any health value at all, we have a new fried cheese and bacon burger..." She gave us a few more minutes to look over the menu and came back. The girl I was with was unsure on what to order, so I looked at her and said, "Seriously, just get whatever you want." So she closed her menu, looked at the waitress, and said "You know what? Whatever. Give me the fried cheese and bacon burger!"

I heard angels. I had to keep myself from getting on one knee right there and telling her that God meant for us to be together forever.

...that's a joke.

You see, it wasn't her getting a burger with a fried piece of dairy on it that made me remember that night so well. It was simply that she was comfortable enough in her own skin to not settle for a meal that is "acceptable" for a girl to eat. She was comfortable enough to enjoy herself while eating with a guy. She was secure enough to know that I wanted to spend time with the girl that I took out that night - not an act.

That, to me, was beauty! That's exactly what she is: a beautiful woman.

No, nothing really happened between us, but I can gladly call her one of my very best friends and one that I hope I'll never lose.

Now, I'll quit rambling and close this by saying that you don't have to live as something that you're not.

Whether that's with a group of friends or someone of the opposite sex, if they don't want to spend time with you while being yourself, do you even need to be around them at all?

To me, it seems like you really aren't around them. It's just the person they want you to be. It is all fake: someone else. It is those insecurities making you put on the act of a character. One thing leads to another and you find yourself thinking, "Is this my life anymore?" That's the worst position you could be in.

If you want to hear the 'what guys are looking for' spiel, I can't give you that. I can only give you what a true man is looking for. After seeking God, he is looking for you.

Say that. Look in the mirror if you need to and say, "Somebody out there is looking for me and I'm perfect for them just as I am." All the goofy personality traits, giggles, and awkward things that make you you are what he is looking for. A true man is not looking for a measurement or a trophy. He is looking for his counterpart. He is looking right past the outside surface and wants to see you. That is who you need to be.

God created that man to find you exactly as you are, but how can he do that if  you don't exist anymore?

You can ask any true man of God and he will tell you the same. Being true to yourself and loving who you are is one of the most beautiful things in a woman. You may not know who your husband will be, but he loves you already, just as you are. Never ever forget.

You are loved.

You are valued.

You are beautiful.

Josh BucknerYou've already met Josh - in the Insecurely: A Spoken Word video. Josh is a sophomore at Missouri State University. When he heard about Insecurely, he fell in love with it on the spot. He can’t wait to write and show each of our Insecurely girls how beautiful and unique they are. Josh joins us a His Side blogger and our resident spoken word artist.

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Sarah Buford: I love you for your heart

SARAH“I love you for your heart, not your face.”  That’s what Jesus said to me on a long painful drive home from youth group a couple of months ago.  We all feel ugly at one point in our life.  In my case, I had horrible acne, and a freshman 15 I couldn’t seem to get rid of.  I remember crying out to God, “Lord I just want to feel beautiful and loved!!!  I’m sick and tired of being lonely, and doing new things.” After about 10 minutes of complaining, He simply quieted me and said, “I love you for your heart, and not your face.”  I immediately started laughing.  I had always known He loved me, but it was un-attainable to me that He loved me despite my ugly cry, mascara running down my face, without anything to offer, broken and miserable. He still loved me.  I had nothing to offer Him and He loved me.  There was nothing I could do to deserve that love, and yet He felt that way about me.  Little old me.

Even from the young age of 15 I remember my Mom coming in and telling me how pretty I was.  At one point, after asking me to put on some more mascara or foundation, I remember her asking, “You don’t think you are beautiful do you?”

I didn’t.

In High School a boy told me the reason he wouldn’t date me was specifically because I was not pretty.  I spent the remaining part of that time trying to prove I was. It wasn’t until this year that I can serve others and think un-selfishly about myself.  Because I thrive on verbal affirmation, compliments mean the most to me.  God knows that.

In fact when I am ugliest, late at night, or early in the morning, those are the moments I feel the most beautiful.  Why in the world would I say that?  This is simply because it is during those times I am most consecrated to Christ.

Leslie Ludy, states it this way:

“A young woman who is deeply, passionately, intimately in love Jesus Christ glows with a radiance that overpowers even the most noticeable of flaws. I’ve seen many a godly woman light up an entire room with her presence. To study her closely, you would not think of her as beautiful; in fact she might even have major physical blemishes that would normally be distracting. But when a woman’s passion for Jesus Christ is so deep that it is the focal point of her existence, it effervesces from every corner of her being – and she glows with heavenly beauty. No matter what her physical flaws might be, they go unnoticed when Jesus Christ is center stage in her life.

Insecurity is simply an unhealthy focus on yourself, rather than a healthy focus on Jesus Christ. It’s something the enemy can easily use to keep us turned inward rather than outward. Just like the temptation toward any sin, we must nip thoughts of insecurity in the bud the moment they begin to arise.

As soon as the enemy comes in with whispers of, “Everyone is noticing your physical shortcomings. There is nothing attractive about you – no one wants to be around you,” your response must be immediate. Instead of entertaining those thoughts and meditating upon them, fight back with truth, scripture, and prayer!

If you begin to ignore thoughts of insecurity and deliberately choose to smile, reach out to others, and focus on being an example of Christ, you will soon realize that insecurity has no soil in which to grow. It may take some time before this principle becomes a habit in your life, but if you lean on the grace and strength of God, He will give you all that you need to triumph in this area.”

"I love you for your heart, not your face."

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Kaytee Mitchell: My Greatest Insecurity

KAYTEE My greatest insecurity is my greatest fear: love.

I know that this sounds totally bizarre and cliché, but this is the greatest fear I have ever had. Fear of love, to find love, to lose love, to pass love by, anything to do with it, it scares me. My entire life, love has been like weather. It has had its bright days, rainy days, storms, and tornadoes, but no matter what it is, I tend to run from it. Run from the thought of having something so good and having it fall right from my hands. Run from the thought that I will never be good enough for the love I desire. Run from the love from those who cares about me so I don’t hurt them. I run, and run, and run, and yet, God just keeps running with me.

It all started when I was little. My mom and dad divorced, and my mom married my step-dad. This was the beginning to my fear. My mother used to come into our rooms bawling some nights saying we were leaving and she was divorcing my new dad, and I didn’t mind because I wasn’t really sure what love really was. Yet, it slowly built this fear in me that I, myself, would never find true love. Over time, my family just seemed to be SO chaotic. My step-dad hated my brother, my mom used to hate my step-sister, and I was just there in the middle of it all. Eventually, I depended FULLY upon my friends and boyfriends to fill the love that I constantly needed when I was little. Nine years went by: nine hard years. I was trying everything to please my friends so that they wouldn’t leave, going boyfriend through boyfriend trying to find the “perfect” love. I could never find satisfaction.

When I finally figured out that my real dad had been lying to me and avoiding me all these years when he repetitively said, “I love you so much, and I wish I could see you,” my world stopped. There I went… running again. It was a constant marathon. It still is. I liked the same guy for a “long” time, only to find out that after waiting years for him, maybe he isn’t the one for me. We both changed, something I greatly feared was going to happen. I have found amazing friends, and yet I have breakdowns of fear about losing them. I try to not hold on too tight, but I’m constantly petrified of losing people who mean so much to me. So what caused all this? Why does fear cover the good I’m reaching for? Well, because my dad ran from what is good, and now I am afraid to be like him: losing everything that is good because I was so afraid. I’m afraid to be afraid! What in the world? I told you, my greatest insecurity is my greatest fear.

However, each day God walks with me step by step, trying to teach me to love, to show that it’s okay, but in the back of my head love seems impossible. Yet, there are people who show me love and it breaks my walls of fear. For example, Miss Hannah Beers once said, “Kaytee, when you became my friend, you stepped into our circle of friends, and I’m not letting you step out and run away. I’m not letting you go.” That night changed my life because finally, I wasn’t allowed to run away, and so I didn’t. She is now my best friend, who I love incredibly. <3

But, how do I stop running from the fear of love? Well I run to the only love that will protect me, God’s. It’s just not easy. I still have breakdowns, I still push “amazing” things in my life away, I still look down on myself, I still think that guys are too good for me, I still cry when someone shows me true love: even when it’s just a meaningful hug or the words “I love you.” It’s my greatest insecurity, but it’s also my greatest strength. It has taught me to run to God when I feel insufficient: which is a lot! There are SO many times I look in the mirror and think, “Who could ever love this?” There are tons of times that I think I laugh way too much and need to calm down. I can’t count the number of times I have depended upon someone else’s satisfaction of me for the satisfaction I have of myself. It’s because when you are constantly running from a love that is all around you, fear seems to run your life: every thought, emotion, action... it’s insane.  YET! That’s why I give love so much: because I want people to know that they are loved always. The phrase I didn’t hear enough is the phrase I say repetitively. I want to let people know that they are loved and beautiful, I just one day need to believe it for myself.

To read more of Kaytee's writing, go to her blog. 

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Emily Taylor: Beauty is ________

Emily Taylor
B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Beautiful. A word every girl wants to hear, yet no one seems to really know what beauty is. There is not a set of guidelines written out for us to say, "beauty is_____." Although, every girl has a cultural ideal burned into her mind telling her what is not beautiful about herself and she is most likely willing to do what it takes to try to change that. Our culture tells us from the time we are born how to get prettier--or it at least tells us that we are not pretty enough. Our culture tells us that beauty is found in the physical. I would like to take a stand and say that true beauty is a spiritual. matter.
Jewelry, hair, makeup, and of course a cute pair of shoes are all things I like. Call me a total girl, but I actually really enjoy dressing up!  I like feeling trendy and when someone compliments me on a new pair of shoes, but for years I fell into the lie that those items were what MADE me beautiful and I was not beautiful without them. Culture has always told me the physical is where beauty comes from. Since the time I could crawl I have been playing dress-up. When I got a bit older I started playing with that little girl makeup--you know, the kind that is basically colored putty that can leave your face stained bright pink for a couple of days…yeah, that kind. When I was in seventh grade I started using the real stuff; one time I mixed several different colors of eyeshadow together and wore it to school. A boy in my class asked me if I had black eyes; needless to say, I never wore that eyeshadow again! By my freshman year of high school, makeup was a part of my everyday routine. To be honest, I don't know if I can remember a single day I left the house without makeup from the time I was a freshman in high school until my freshman year of college. I so easily fell into the snare that culture throws at us; I thought my beauty was found in the physical.
A couple of weeks before the Insecurely Movement started, God began to repetitively remind me of a saying I once heard, "Don't let a day go by where you spend more time looking into a mirror than into your Bible." Those words cut me deep, because I knew I was not doing so. I was trying to keep my appearance up to the world's standard and meanwhile neglecting the inner beauty of God's standard. Several different occurrences happened in the weeks leading to the Insecurely Movement that led me to believe that I really needed a heart change. God was redefining the meaning of beauty in my mind. I began to pray that God would give me confidence in myself no matter how I look on the outside, because true beauty is found from the inside. I memorized Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." I said this to myself everyday until it was instilled within my brain so that I was constantly reminded that my beauty must be found in my character, not my clothes or makeup.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing bad about doing your hair and makeup and dressing with your own unique style! The breaking point is this: when impressing the world with your image is more important to you than transforming your heart to the image of God.
The Insecurely Movement has truly challenged and changed my heart. Since the Insecurely Movement I have left my room a countless amount of times without makeup. My outward appearance no longer defines me; my God defines me. I now can leave the house without makeup and still feel beautiful, because no matter how I may look on the outside to others, my true beauty shines from within!
God has redefined the meaning of beauty in my life, let Him do so in yours.
I am Emily Taylor and I am secure.

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Katie Stanford: Secure in Christ

As a child, I always wanted to be the center of attention. If there were people near me, I wanted them to be my audience. I would put my favorite music on and pretend that they were at my concert. Everyday I would run around outside pretending to be Pocahontas with my hair blowing in the wind while singing all of the songs from the movie. Needless to say, I was one weird kid! I grew up in a very athletic family. My younger sister was the type of person who could excel at any sport she tried. My mother was always the one to coach her, and they made an excellent team. I, of course, tried my hand at sports but was never able to live up to par with Brooke. As I grew up, my Kid’s Church pastor saw some potential in me and started teaching me human videos. I had found the place where I belonged. I started to do more and more human videos, and I fell in love with acting.

Summer in between my freshman and sophomore year, my world fell apart. My Kid’s Pastor resigned after dealing with a scandal in her personal life, and my older sister stopped talking to any of my family members. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know why everything was going wrong. I then started to get the terrible “what if” thoughts. “What if I would’ve encouraged Tisha more?” “What if I let Danielle know how much her family loved her and wanted her home?” “What if I told Tisha that I wanted to grow up to be like her one day?” “What if I let Danielle know that I longed to have a great sister relationship with her?”

These questions haunted me. With each day that passed, I started to feel worthless and forgettable. On the outside, I was acting like nothing was wrong. I became so numb to anything and everything, and I finally resorted to self-harm to allow myself to feel again. With every blow of pain I felt, I could escape into a world where I could control that pain. It was easy to take care of. In the end, all I needed was a band-aid. A lot easier to mend than any mental pain, eh?

As high school went on, the wounds slowly started to heal. I had accepted what I could not change. God and His amazing redemptive power healed my mind and restored my thinking. I started to not care what people thought of me, and I found myself a much happier and carefree person.

Of course I still struggle with self-harm and self-image, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s a constant reminder of what God has brought me out of. Through His power alone, I can write this story, and I can honestly tell you that there is hope.

 

“What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.” 2 Corinthians 10:18 MSG

 

I am Katie Claire Stanford, and I am secure in Christ. 

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Nicole Finnell: Healing Process

Nicole Finnell

 

These are the words of the very things that shaped who I am. I have to dig deep to bring my insecurities to the surface. I’ve dealt with a lack of confidence due to both my appearance and personal experiences. Growing up, I was the slightly more than chubby girl with the slicked back hair and the face covered in acne. I spent a great deal of my time in books. I was a “nerd” who found her security in school. My brains were what gave me value. I found comfort in being the class clown because that seemed to be the only way I fit in contentedly with my peers. I found security in my humor. Until the summer before my junior year when the weight came off, the acne cleared up, and I learned that I didn’t have to wear a ponytail every day of my life. I became confident in my looks, I became okay with who I was and my personality stayed the same.

I enter into my junior year thinking this was it. “I’m finally free of the burden of worrying every day whether I was presentable and acceptable to the world.” Little did I know that I would soon meet my biggest insecurity. His name holds no significance. It was his actions that made all the difference. His words made me feel beautiful and his actions made me feel worthy. For the first time in my life I was being noticed by a guy. Within no time I fell head over heels for this boy, and with that, my self-worth would start to grow attached to the opinions and thoughts of this guy. Everything he wanted I did. Everything he disapproved of, I stopped. I wasn’t Nicole anymore. Instead of being an original, like I had been my entire life, I was a carbon copy of the person he wanted and created. As time went by, he got tired of me. A crushed little girl, I tried to move on pretending he didn’t destroy a little piece of me.

This same guy will be seen in and out of my life for the next four years. I was his fall back girl and I had a low enough self-esteem to be exactly that. Even if for the moment I wanted to be wanted and I longed to feel beautiful… So I let him use me. Eventually, I would become the secret; a hidden aspect of his life. I would feel as though I were not good enough, not pretty enough, not perfect enough to be a part of his reality, so I did my best to fit into his fantasy. I gave what was most precious to me so easily to this guy only to be left alone. Again. And hurt. Again. And feeling worthless. Again. It’s easy to see that I let my insecurities in my worth take control of me, leading to the insecurities I would struggle with (and still struggle with) because of these experiences. It has taken time, and still more time is needed, for me to fully recover from such a long period of being used as I was. Through the fasting and praying of dear ones, and the time spent seeking God through it all, I have come to terms within myself and about myself. I have learned to be content with me. I know I have worth, I know I deserve more, I know I deserve to be treated better, and I am fighting with all the newly found strength I possess to keep what purity, integrity, and honor I have left, knowing that my God is gracious enough to restore all that I had given away.

Today, I’m still in love with learning, I enjoy making people laugh, and I struggle with who I am on occasion. I wear the scars of my insecurities as proof of healing. God did more than put a band-aid over my wounds. He completely healed them. He is the God of restoration, and He fixed what satan was bent on destroying: my self-worth and my relationships. These scars are my testimony, my evidence of a great God who has done wonders within me. I can now face this guy saying I know I am worth more, I know I deserve better. I can honestly forgive him, and I can know he forgives me. I can look in a mirror with confidence and say I am beautiful. If this journey has taught me anything it is that I am more than meets the eye. I am not defined by the mirror I stare in each morning. My confidence and security comes from a God who says the world’s standards of beauty are severely screwed up. I am declared beautiful and valuable by the creator of the universe. No other source can tell me any different for their opinions are negated and considered void by a greater truth. I am Nicole Lynn Finnell and I am secure in Christ.

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