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Body Image, Identity

Nearly “A”

August 6, 2014

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There’s something about buying a bra that makes me burst out into a cold sweat. I’ve been wearing a bra for well over two decades now, but even still, the same anxieties linger every time I cross the threshold and enter into the land of the “unmentionables.”

For me, bra shopping is an unforgivable lesson in humility. A constant reminder of just what God didn’t see fit to give me.

When I was in high school, there was line of bras that specialized in offering half sizes in case you just weren’t quite able to fit in to a general size. From the outside this seemed like a great idea, but for me, it was torture.

Grabbing an array of bras in full and half sizes, I made my way somewhat confidently to the changing room; all the while secretly praying that I somehow would miraculously grow boobs in the two yards I was walking to go try them on. Of course, as fate would have it, I was not the Nearly B or even the Full A, but the lonely and pathetic Nearly A.

Nearly A? Is that even a size? It almost felt like someone was trying to politely say, “You’re really built like a boy and have no chance of ever getting boobs, but here’s a bra anyway girlfriend.”

I didn’t buy the Nearly A that day, but the stigma of being a Nearly A has stayed with me since. For years I would try and buy any bra that gave away the impression that I was anything but a Nearly A. I wore the miracle bras, gel-filled bras, the 97% padding 3% you bras. Push up, push down, push sideways, if it made me look like I had a chest, I was buying it. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I still felt like the Nearly A.

I wonder when we decided as women that the size of our breasts somehow became a barometer for the kind of person we are. As if the bigger my chest got, the nicer I was and the more people would like me. When you really think about it, it’s kind of silly.

But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We take the things like being the girl with small boobs, or the girl with freckles, or the girls with a big bootie and we turn it into this measuring stick of our character and ultimately our worth. This causes us to then live in this horrific shame cycle of statements like “Why can’t I be” or “If only I was.”

When we stop seeing the beauty and worth in who we are, we begin to instead measure ourselves by what we are not.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14

Oftentimes it’s hard for us to look past all that we see in the mirror and grasp the true depth of beauty amongst the pimples, dimples, flab, and lack of curves. But ask yourself, if all you’re ever known and liked for is how you look on the outside, is that really an accurate picture of who you are? Of course not!

So what if I’m 32 and can still wear a training bra like it’s no joke? I’m also a loyal friend. So yeah, I got tummy flab that may or may not muffin top over a too tight pair of pants. But you know what? I also have a really great sense of humor. I love my kids, my husband, my God and my friends fiercely. I am honest and passionate. I am bold and at times ridiculous. None of these things can be seen and known by how well I fill out a bra or how good I look in a bikini. Being a Nearly A means nearly nothing when it comes to who I truly am.

There are still many days when I am that Nearly A girl. Days when I look in the mirror and tell myself that I am not, because I have not. Then I remember that His works are wonderful, which means I’m wonderful. My Nearly A body is Christ’s absolute perfect daughter. If He can see beyond what’s right in front of us, maybe we all should try and take a second look ourselves.

Body Image, Family, God, Identity, Relationships

My Digital Friend is Taking Over

May 29, 2014

I consider myself to be a pretty well rounded mother of three. I do the laundry, cook the food, clean the messes, bandage the boo-boos, read stories and kiss little cheeks. I’m a multi-tasker to the max and I take pride in getting many things done at once.

I also consider myself an excellent phone consumer. I can scroll through Instagram, check my email, search the weather, pick through Pinterest and text my friends and family all at once.

What’s truly impressive, however, is my ability to be a mother and a phone consumer at the same time. Although impressive, this “talent” you could say has led me down a path of habit, addiction and absence.

My i-phone has become another member of the family. I catch myself constantly saying “hold on a minute, wait one sec, let me just finish this sentence, I’ll be right there, etc.” as I hold my phone in my hands typing away as my child pulls on my pant leg and as my husband waits for my full attention to say something. I hear the bing of an incoming text and I’m answering its call as if it has trained me to come like a dog by its master. Somehow everything seems urgent on the phone. My friend asked an important question, this person needs something from me, I need to get back in touch with this person right away…. Or else what? What will happen if I just wait to answer? What would happen if instead I gave my attention to those who are right in front of me? -The ones looking at my face waiting for me to make eye contact with them. The ones who are wanting to know if they are more important than the machine in my hand.

According to Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Family and Childhood Relationships in the Digital Age- she says that I am not alone. “ Kids suffer as a result. After interviewing hundreds of kids and adults, I have found that what kids feel the most is sad, isolated and alone. They feel like it’s impossible to get their parents’ attention. Walking into a room to talk to a parent and being told brusquely “in a minute, hold on,” makes the kids feel deflated and bad about themselves.”

This breaks my heart. And it’s not just kids who are reaping the consequences. It’s relationships period! The husband and wife who sit next to each other and instead of looking at one another in conversation they are looking at the screen. The friend who is sharing something important while the one across the table is reminded to look at a picture or an email instead of being fully present. We cant even watch a movie all together without the majority of us looking up facts about the movie, where else did we see that actor, and when was this movie made all leading us back to our phone.

It has become a crutch to lean on when we find ourselves in awkward situations, when we find ourselves alone while waiting for someone to show up, when we are wanting the world to think that we have it all together when really we don’t. My husband just said the other day….. “Do we ever do anything anymore to just do them? Or are we living our lives to make for a good picture on our social media?”

In the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” there is a scene where a photographer has traveled across the world to take a picture of a snow leopard that rarely makes an appearance. As he sits there gazing upon the animal as it emerges from the caves… he doesn’t take the picture. His friend asks if he plans to capture this moment and his response is so profound. He answers by saying there are moments so good he wants to remain in them fully present rather than interrupting it with a push of a button.

Our lives are filled with precious moments and we can certainly miss them.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 it says “ …. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Sounds like all the times we’re on our phone. Right? And yet its talking about verse 5- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Phew.  The majority of my day is spent with my mind on the phone rather than on loving God with my whole heart.

Before you even read this post, I’m sure you were already aware of the digital problem we face. You know this, but have you done anything about it? Of course it isn’t realistic to throw away your phone or stop emailing and answering texts all together! I mean the phone allows me to see my husband when he’s gone.  The phone allows me to connect with people.  But we definitely can learn to manage better. This is about boundaries. This is about what our minds and hearts are constantly stayed on as we go about our day. We can learn to check our phones when we want, not when it wants. Set your boundaries, walk outside and be fully present where you are.

Body Image, God, Identity, Judging

So I Walk Into This Bar……

May 14, 2014

 

Ok.. so not really a bar… more like a restaurant/ bowling alley/coffee shop and it happens to have a bar.  It was a rare night out for me.  Usually my nights consist of folding laundry, giving a child a bath, cleaning up dirty hands and maybe if I have time I’ll eat some food along the way.  But here I was 8:30 at night after the kids went to bed and I’m out on the town.  I didn’t have time to change clothes or fix my makeup, but I didn’t really care at the moment.  I was just thankful to be out in the life of the living.  It was no longer me and a frying pan… It was me and the rest of the world!  Come on world!!!  I have conquered my home and now I will conquer you!  ;)

As I walked through the doors, however, my confidence seemed to melt right off of me and run for the nearest exit.  As I looked around at all the other girls in the room I noticed their ‘perfect’ hair down to the middle of their backs, every curl in place.  I noticed their ‘perfect’ makeup on their ‘perfect’ skin.  I noticed their awesome clothes and the amazing style that must have cost them a fortune.  And all of a sudden I am now aware of the baby food stain on my shirt, the dirt stuck under my finger nails, and the less than “cool” outfit I have been in all day while wiping bottoms and cleaning the floor.  Right then I wasn’t pretty enough and I wasn’t good enough.   And for the rest of the night I felt self conscious and anxious to leave.

Ugh!  Why is that?  Have you ever felt that way?  I was so confident before I started to compare myself to everyone else.  I didn’t care how I looked until I cared how other girls looked.  I looked at them, then back at me, then back at them.  My eyes were all over the place and my heart was all out of place.  And the sad thing is this wasn’t the first time.  I seem to find myself comparing how I look often to others… and there I am left measuring myself up against everyone else.. instead of looking to what God sees in me.

” There will always be people who see everything in the world as a measuring stick of their worthiness, instead of as a burning bush of God’s gloriousness.  If your life looks like a mess- to them – they whip out a measuring stick and feel confident of their own worthiness.  If your life looks like a monument- to them – they whip out a measuring stick and start cutting you down for their own empowerment.  (And how often we do the same to others… am I right?)

The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks.  The world is a forest of burning bushes.  Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind OR ahead!  Everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here!  That God is working through this person’s life, the God is redeeming that person’s life, that God is igniting this work, that God is present here in this mess, and God is using even this.”

When my eyes are off of myself and onto God I don’t notice if I’m lacking or if I even think of myself as better than someone else.  I just see God.  And when I look at someone else I can see them as a soul who is loved by God.  My sight needs to change, my heart needs to change.

“Walk through life with a measuring stick- and your eyes get so small you never see God.  Comparison is a thug that robs your joy!!  But it’s even more than that- Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody- or your own soul.”  When you compare yourself to others, you not only are hurting yourself, you are measuring up that other person to a scale of judgement.  ” Scales always lie!!  They don’t make a scale that ever told the truth about value, about worth, about significance.  Measuring sticks try to rank some people as big and some people as small- but WE AREN’T SIZES!  WE ARE SOULS!  There are no better people or worse people- there are only God-made souls.  There is no point trying to size people up.”  No point into sizing yourself up!  You can’t measure souls.

Comparison is something that I fall into on a daily basis.  The funny thing is I started my night out all wrong in the first place.  My confidence was in myself.  I had already set myself up for failure.  I felt ahead and found myself feeling behind.  Maybe if I had been focused on God and His all encompassing love for me that day… I would be confident in Him and my eyes would have changed to see everyone else as a God-made soul whom He is working in.  Maybe I would have even seen myself as such.

The measuring stick is killing us girls!  It is robbing us of joy on a daily basis.  I want to throw my stick away and burn like fire in the gloriousness of God’s love!!

” Girls rival each other.  Women revive each other.

Girls empale each other.  Woman empower each other.

Girls compare each other.  Women champion each other.”

*All quotes are taken from Ann Voskamp

 

Body Image, Identity, Modesty

Owning Our End of the Deal

September 6, 2013

Two days ago the Facebook world turned upside down over a seemingly harmless blog post one mother wrote about protecting her boys from the scandalous pictures girls post on Facebook. We tweeted the link, and along with this poor mother, felt a sting of criticism as to what was said in that post. As the day progressed and the popularity of the post grew, I found more people were chiming in and writing their own posts as to how they felt on the issue.

This mother was being called a slew of things from irresponsible, to sexist, to hypocritical, to even encouraging the type of behavior by men that we saw in the Steubenville incident. As I read more and more I noticed a trend: Everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else to be the blame, and no one was taking ownership of their own part in the problem. Because of this, I felt it was necessary to take a slight pause from our talk on forgiveness and address the issue from our end.

Here’s the deal ladies, we are responsible for our actions. Period. In the case of modesty some would say that if a man sees us and lusts that is his fault and not ours. To a small degree, I can agree with that. I could be dirty, sweaty, and wearing pajamas and somehow my husband will find me attractive. It’s a mystery about the makeup of men I will never understand. So when it comes to this debate about who is responsible for what in the modesty crisis -because yes, it is a crisis- we find no one giving a clear-cut answer as who is to be held accountable.

We are responsible for our actions as are men for theirs. Yet for us as believers there is a slight caveat with this. We are held to a higher standard. A standard where we have been asked by God to review our behaviors and make sure that not only are they an honorable representation of our Father, but also not a hindrance or cause for stumbling to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus even went so far as to say that if by our actions one were to sin, it would be better that we have a stone around our neck and be tossed into the sea. (Mark 9:42-43)

I could go into a discussion as to what may cause you to want to post risqué  photos of yourself online, but I feel that may need to be a whole series in and of itself. But I do want to point out that we as women, especially women of faith, need to be ever mindful of the role we play in our fellow christian brothers ability to sin. And instead of saying that the boys need to learn how to control themselves (which I agree they do) we must first humble our own egos and embrace our failure to uphold a standard of godly dress and appearance, and how by doing so, we hinder our brothers from being able to continue a pursuit of godly conduct themselves.

“Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.” Romans 4:13-14 (The Message)

I have a son and a daughter. I hope that God will have used me to teach my son how to cherish, honor and respect women. I pray that when he is faced with an image too provocative for his mind to bear that he would flee from it and seek better places for his thoughts to linger. I also hope that my daughter would realize that she is so much more than her looks and that the way she and her brother wear their clothes tells a story about them and the God they serve. And my hope would also be that when they mess up, they would own up to their failures humbly and with repentance in their hearts.

I want my son to know that with Christ, he can pursue godly triumph over his thought life and I hope that he would have the integrity to block and unfriend any girl who would intentionally or not seek to lead him away from that path. I would also want my daughter to know that in Christ, she is not defined by her sex appeal. I would hope that she would have a strong enough sense of who she is in Jesus to know that her clothes speak to her character and her character speaks to her love for the Lord.

Ladies, I love you. Like the mother shared in her post, if you’ve made a mistake and posted a picture or link you aren’t proud of, you can make the choice now and remove it. Own up to your end of the deal that you hold just as much responsibility of that boy who looks at you does. Seek to live a life of character that reflects Christ in all areas and strive to keep what was meant to be holy from being contaminated.

You can read the original article here

Body Image, Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life, Suffering

It’s Ok to Cry

August 9, 2013

So I just got into a fight with my brother.  When we were little we would fight all the time… and I mean ALL the time.  However, these days its very rare that we would even have something to fight about.  That is before we decided to have a family Vacay with everyone in a very small house with not a lot of privacy.  Someone is bound to get their feelings hurt at some point.  And of course it was me- the pregnant emotional one.  ;)  The misunderstanding, if you will, was all over a toaster and whether or not it was plugged in.  I needed help and because our communication wasn’t very clear we ended up exploding on one another because we both felt the other person wasn’t listening, and so I stomped up to my room in tears.  The whole way up to my room I was so annoyed with myself for crying and making it a bigger deal than it was.  I was ashamed at how I handled the situation and even more so embarrassed by my sudden outbreak of emotional unstableness over a stupid toaster.  Especially when I have a sister in law who I never see cry and always seems to be so level headed.  The crying no longer stemmed from the disagreement, but from the feeling of coming across as weak or easily frustrated.

I don’t know when I started to believe that crying was a sign of weakness and being too sensitive.  All I know is I didn’t like the way it made me feel.  I didn’t like the way it shook my confidence and made me look insecure in front of my peers.  In high school confidence, leaning to the side of arrogance, was attractive and beautiful.  Vulnerability was the plague that repelled everyone cool.  And so I learned to keep it all in.  Keep in the hurt, keep in the frustration, keep in the tears, keep in the pain, mask it all, because as long as I came across happy and confident… that is all that mattered.  It wasn’t until a dear friend taught me something that I’ll never forget.  She asked me if i knew what our tears were made out of.  I thought about it for a moment and I guess I always just thought- water.  But have you ever had the tears run down your cheek and rest on your lips?  Ever notice how its salty?  Salt is considered a healing agent.  Have a cut?  Put some salt water on it.  Have a sore throat?  Gargle some salt water.  Salt can heal..  tears can heal.  If we bottle them up, we bottle up the pain and can prevent healing from ever showing up.  We may look happy and strong on the outside… but on the inside we’re just a vessel ready to break.  I believe that God created tears to be the very release we need in certain times of angst.

So disclaimer- I want to be clear that as Heather and I write about lies we may hear from the Church- we are not saying that EVERY church preaches these things.  We are just bringing to your attention lies that you may have come to believe somewhere along the line from some pulpit without even realizing how unbiblical it actually was.  I do believe that many churches are displaying the body of Christ in encouraging you to be vulnerable and honest with how you are really feeling.  But because the church is made up of sinful people- I know that there are churches out there that are preaching the opposite.  Which leads me to lie #2.  If you call yourself a Christian you have no reason to be unhappy- after all you are saved from eternal suffering in hell and will one day be in Heaven so why not rejoice always!

Take for example

Phil. 4:4-7- “Be glad in the Lord always!  Again I say, be glad!

1 Thes. 5:16- “Rejoice always!”

1 Peter 1:6- “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials

Based on these passages and some others- why wouldn’t Christians believe that you should always put on a happy face?  Why wouldn’t you believe that being put together while everything is falling apart means that you are trusting in the Lord?  For if you are truly trusting in God, you wouldn’t be sinning in your doubt right??  You wouldn’t be sorrowful in your circumstances when you have the hope of a new life and the God of peace at your fingertips right?

However, if you look at the WHOLE Bible and not just a verse here and there, you will find that there are also so many verses that say otherwise.  So what else does the Bible have to say?

You could look at the book of Psalms and find that David (a man after God’s own heart) found himself feeling pretty darn low and yet still remained a faithful child of God’s.

Psalm 4:4-5- “Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent.  Put your trust in the Lord… He hears you when you call to Him.”

Psalm 5:1- “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning.”

Psalm 6:6-7- “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears.  I drench my couch with weeping.  My eyes wastes away because of grief.”

In 2 Samuel David is told that his son will become very ill and die.  And so David wept for many days, begging God to heal his son.  He covered himself with ashes, He cried out in pain and anguish.  This wasn’t just a few tears… this was a no eating, no showering, depressed kind of crying out.  However his child dies and how does David respond?- “Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes.  And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.”

Also look at Job.  Even Jeremiah in the Bible was considered the “weeping prophet”.  Both were not putting on a happy face when things got tough and life seemed to be falling into pieces.  They both trusted God through their tears and allowed others into their grief not pretending to be happy when things were not.

After reading these it shows me that you can be caught in a time of mourning, frustration, anger, sadness, and grief without being in sin!  After all remember in Ecclesiastes 3- There is a time for every season, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to mourn and a time to dance.  Do not shy away from your feelings for fear of appearing weak or unfaithful! Showing your real feelings is actually a sign of faithfulness.

“If people are not told that their sorrows, their laments, their pain, their complaints and their anger are legitimate expressions of FAITH, then they will continue to feel ashamed and even un-Christian whenever they feel those things.”- Schaefer  We need to allow ourselves to feel and allow ourselves to cry.  The Jesus we know knows exactly what suffering is like and He himself wept.  John 11:35

In conclusion, we all live in a life that is not perfect.  We will all have different experiences, some good, some really bad.  But we were made in the image of God to feel.  To feel the depths of our hearts when we are joyful and the depths that just want to cry out.  It’s what makes us human.  It’s what makes us be able to relate with one another… Do we have a lot of hope in Christ?  Yes!  Do we have reasons to rejoice because God has saved us from our past sin and will give us Himself? Yes!

So is it possible to be in despair and yet still rejoice?  Is it possible to be mourning and yet still worship?  Is it possible to rejoice in our sufferings?  I know that it seems practically impossible in certain times of hardship.  I’ve been there.  But if we set our eyes on things above and not on present circumstances we can see how our heart can be thankful and hopeful even in the midst of our suffering.  You can be thankful and still mourn.  Christians are not meant to be happy all of the time.  Let your tears fall, let your feelings come through and offer them up to the Lord.  He understands. He sees your heart breaking and He wants you to come to Him as you are.  His power is made perfect in your weakness.  Be weak, be honest, be faithful and watch as the salt heals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Image, Faith, Fear, Identity, Self-harm, Suffering

Hungry for Change

May 24, 2013

This is written by my beautiful friend Jenna who has been there.  Her heart has torn like yours and her heart now hopes for yours.  Read it with an open heart.

“Will I ever stop cutting?” The question almost feels ominous. There’s a haunting sense of hopelessness and despair in these words and I imagine that many of you have often wondered this about yourself. There are various reasons that bring a person to the point of engaging in self-harm, but an underlying issue that I want to address in this space is self-contempt. I write to you from the perspective of being a therapist that counsels girls on a daily basis who struggle with self-harm AND from the perspective of once being a young girl who battled with this addiction for years. My hope for you, if this is a war that you fight against and maybe even give into, is that you will begin to identify what brought you to such deep levels of self-hate, and eventually as you move toward healing I pray that hope would be restored to your heart as you learn to be kind toward yourself kind toward your body.

Before I address this main undercurrent of self-harm, I want to briefly discuss the fear of change. Change, at times, is feared more than death; to unravel the layers of history and allow your heart to ache to grieve can be so overwhelming that staying stuck in the addiction is preferable to change. One of my favorite authors, Annie Rogers, explains it this way, “What we fear most has already happened.” The stories that brought you to a place of feeling like there was no other way to survive than to cut have already happened. And until you allow yourself to return to the past and grieve what you lost with kindness toward yourself, your heart will continue to remain hard and unmoved toward change. In John 5:2-9, Jesus asked a man, who had suffered from a lingering disorder for thirty-eight years, if he wished to be healed. When Jesus told him to get up and walk, the man, in faith, did just that he got up and he walked. And that is my question to you, “Do you want to be healed?” And if so, are you willing to do the difficult labor of going to the shattered places in your story to allow Christ to heal your woundedness so that your future no longer has to bear the marks of history written on your body? Another way of saying this is, “Are you in a place where you are willing to continuously ask God what is keeping you from being hungry for change AND the anticipated hope that it can happen?” What is it that you are still getting from hurting yourself? What is it that you bleed for? Do you doubt that God can change you?  

Self-Contempt

Somehow along the way we learned it wasn’t safe to express our emotions… we learned to hate the very fact that we even had emotions. We learned to find ways to deaden the parts of ourselves that were vulnerable, that were susceptible to getting hurt, the parts of ourselves that felt weak and helpless. There’s something about self-harm that fooled us into believing we’re tough, that we can handle anything that anyone does to us because we can always hurt ourselves more than they ever could. In our shame for having felt hurt or powerless, we found a way to protect ourselves through the false illusion of power and control. The shield of self-harm deflects the emotional pain (or emotional numbness) onto our bodies in the form of physical pain creating a haven of denial where we hide behind our cuts and scars in fear of facing reality.  Essentially, self-contempt keeps us from having to truly face the real issue our sin of turning our back away from God and trying, in our own efforts, to manage life apart from Him. If we secretly continue to destroy our skin, in places where we hope no one will ever find, then perhaps we’re still hoping that no one will notice we haven’t actually given up this sin after all. When we self-harm, we are giving into the deception that no one is good enough for us to trust, not even the One who created us. Satan has cleverly swayed us to believe that if we hate ourselves enough then somehow we will be able to pay the price for our own sin and the sin of others.  Our self-contempt is the imitation of true conviction over sin.  When I asked the question earlier, “What is it that you bleed for,” I had to at one point ask myself this as well. I used to bleed for a lot of reasons (the reason we initially began to self-harm ends up changing throughout the years as it becomes a blanket that we use to soothe ourselves from having to feel anything at all), but one of the main things I bled for later on in life was love. I made love my ultimate thing and when I felt rejected or unwanted, when I felt the loss of relationship, I felt shame for ever having wanted to be loved in the first place. In effort to never have to face my grief of love lost, I turned against myself to avoid feeling the burn of heartache. When I cut, I would condemn myself for having desire I would tell myself that I was a fool for opening my heart and hoping that someone could love me. But wanting to be loved was not the sin, desire is good and created within us by God.  My need for control over my sorrow was the sin, placing all my hope in another person was my sin, yet bleeding felt like the price I had to pay for my shame.  If I had invited God into that process of love lost, I would have humbly turned toward Him to grieve, to confess my fear of abandonment, to ask about the part I played in the failure of the relationship (not in a self-deprecating manner, but from the position of courageously facing my own part) ─ I would have faced the lovelessness in my own heart.   

Self-harm has enabled us to deaden our hearts toward desire and despise passion. To commit such an act of violence against the self speaks volumes to the levels of anger we hold deep within… and just beneath anger is hurt. But, like I said, we learned that it wasn’t safe to expose our feelings, so we turned ourselves against ourselves in order to survive the burns we still carry in our hearts. So, will you be willing to risk again? Will you refuse to be dead? It’s not enough to just say that we’ll never cut again, but we have to do our part of asking God those difficult questions that lead us into sorrow.  Dan Allender writes, in his book, The Wounded Heart, “Sorrow begins to melt our hatred toward ourselves and toward others.”

The act of self-harm is a way to escape sorrow. We would rather numb ourselves than be alive to the pain we bear OR for some of you that have already deadened your hearts, you cut to feel alive. We stay stuck in our addictions to cutting, to burning, to punching, to cursing ourselves because to feel the sorrow is an invitation to let God rule on the throne of our hearts. If that’s the alternative, most of us would rather go on medicating our pain with a knife. To trust God even in those moments of tension means opening up our palms and allowing The Spirit to deeply touch our lives.  I pray that you would turn your face toward God and ask him to show you the moments where you vowed to never let another person hurt you again… where you sided with the accuser and agreed that you would never allow your heart to hope for something good. Ask Him to show you the moments that marked you… what was it that you once lost that can’t be recovered? When we repent of these places in our lives, God works within us and creates space inside our hearts to receive His forgiveness, and as we soften in the presence of this love it enables us to forgive ourselves as well as others.

Repentance leads to love and most of us fear what loving others and loving ourselves might mean. It could mean we might get hurt again, be assured, you will! It’s unavoidable we live in a world where evil exists. But that doesn’t mean the hope for healing is lost. Healing is a process that takes time. It took me years to stop cutting because I didn’t understand how to process my emotions without my body screaming at me for relief. And to be honest, there have been moments where old wounds will resurface and God wants to do a deeper healing in my life and those are the moments where I have to know how to care well for my heart and for my body. When God wants to bring me to places that will ask me to feel sorrow, I have to choose to let my heart be alive and courageously open my hands to the One who created me even if it would be easier to deaden my pain. In those moments, how will you be kind to yourself? Are you willing to recognize the moment before the moment that you decide you’re going to cut? And once you recognize that you might be moving in that direction, are you willing to reach out to a friend, to a counselor, to God and ask for help? Are you willing to seek the things that awaken your heart? For me, sometimes being kind looks like taking a hot yoga class, creating something artistic with pictures or language, surrounding myself with others that inspire me, writing a letter to someone to express my gratitude for who they are… sometimes being kind to myself is simply making a hot cup of tea with honey.  It would be foolish of me to think that I would NEVER cut again. I have to continuously be open to honestly face what I’m feeling even if that means confessing to others that I want to hurt myself, and also asking God to reveal to me what it is that I’m trying to escape from. Will you refuse to deaden your heart? Will you refuse to hate passion? Will you refuse to devalue trusting in others? Will you recognize that joy and life come from acknowledging your brokenness, your desperation, and your true heart’s desire for relationship with God? Will you allow your heart to hope again and trust that God can bring restoration to your life? I challenge you to journal today and to be honest with yourself and with God about where you feel you are in this process of being ready to change and hope for healing? And if you are ready to move forward I encourage you to reach out and tell someone you can trust you were created to heal, to grow, and to love in the context of safe community. My best friend wrote a song for me one night as I was struggling with the desire to cut… I’ll leave you with her words…

It’s gunna be okay tonight

It’s gunna be all alright

Just wrap your arms around yourself and hold on tight

Casue Love is holding you tonight

With each hand upon your scars Loves holding tight

And you’re not gunna lose

You’ve already won

You’re not gunna pay

You’ve already stayed too long.

Body Image, Fear, God, Identity, Suffering

False Intimacy

May 14, 2013
So this is a poem by a dear friend of mine who turned to cutting to ease her pain.  I warn you that its very intense and raw.  Heather and I want this blog to be real, to be honest, to not skate across the surface and never address real feelings and emotions that we face.  There are times when we finally speak or write exactly how we feel no matter how hard they may be to hear or read.  As my friend did just that, she found that the intimacy she longed for in a knife could never satisfy her true longing which was for the intimacy of a person.
I pray that if you can relate to these words, that you would see that there is a deeper longing within you.  Much deeper than the need for control, much deeper than the need for release, much deeper than the need to be seen.  Your heart was made for relationship.  Your heart was made for Jesus.  Here it is.
I border on the line between being borderline and sane
but these scars that mark my feeble frame
cant deny the memories encased in my brain
and I havent wanted to speak
because if I put these words in ink
it might reveal
im a lot crazier than you may think
you look at this body and think
“she’s kind of a hotty.”
but I dont paint myself for you
I paint myself pretty for me
I am in war and this is my camouflage
you see
I cant look in the mirror and love what I see
the naked me
without foundation, without eyeshadow, without lipstick
underneath this palate of colors
my face is covered in scars because I pick
I pick my skin
everything I hold deep within
comes out between my two pointer fingers as I freeze time
hours pass by
as I pry my fingertips into the crevasses of my epidermis
like the hands that inched their way up my dress and into my orifice
and when my mind comes back into time and space
swollen and red, mutilated and bleeding
I look in the mirror, hate my face
after 240 minutes of picking I feel dirtier than I did
when I started
which I don’t even know why I began in the first place
except maybe I do
I pick back
these haunting memories I wish I could retract
was it when I was 5 or when I was 8?
I get so confused
I cant figure out the year, the date, the time
of which one taught me how to masterbate
how to have an orgasim
and now I’m stuck in the chasm
trying to pull a part the difference between pleasure and pain
that which gentles and arouses
from that which is violent and demeaning
my boyfriend says to “fix” me
love yourself, eat healthy, drink water, exercise
Screw you
because nothing you suggest can undo
what’s been done between my thighs
when I was 5, 8, 10, 12, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21,22, 23
will I ever be free from his defacing me?
I am marked by you
you, whoever you are
I have disicrated my skin
the skin you caressed and pulled yourself in
and unfortunately,
your traumatizing acts
however many or few
 will never match the harm Ive committed against
my own flesh and blood
because of you
you whoever you are
and now I’m freezing
I cut my arm and thigh
and I cant stop the bleeding
I feel light headed and dizzy, the room is spinning
but I cant stop this sinning
It feels so good when I put the cool of the blade to my
olive complexion
the knife I have carefully chosen from a wide selection
of swiss army knives, to pocket knives, to pink handle pairing knives,
but I chose this one
I buy the knife along with other items to disguise
my intent for what the purpose of this purchase
really meant
I go home and shut the door and
I turn on music that puts me in the mood
I’m already beginning to feel subdued
I change into something more suitable for this occasion
and I grab a towel for what’s about to unfold from this
carefully planned manifestation
I have been craving intimacy
my boyfriend hasnt been wanting to hear me lately
I tell him im in pain and that im hurting
but his “family has made him this way”
and so when I yell to be

heard it shuts him down
and he cant enter into what im saying
he says my cutting doesnt make him see that Im in agony
but that this addictive, manipulative, vindictive behavior is
bull, and I do it just because I want attention.
Read up on psychology, or better yet why dont you just ask me
so as i pull out my towel to catch the
anticipated kiss of arousal,
I cut my skin
and the color of so called love soothes as it wraps itself
around me and pours out from within
I make concrete what I think,
I want someone to be in my pain with me
and when you cant or wont
 I fall apart because I am weak,
even though I feel powerful and tough
when I cut,
I’m really fragile and frail
but I am growing
and at times I do love myself
but if you dont want me because I
border on the line between being insane and sane
than that’s okay
because there will always be blood running through my veins
But..
here’s my secret
heres what makes me vulnerable and weak
I’ll always prefer the true intimacy and warmth of another than the cold blade of my pseudo lover.