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Body Image, Fear, Identity, Redemption, Self-harm, Your Story

Between the Mirror and Me

January 27, 2016

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Chelsea’s Story

“I have an eating disorder.”

It took me so long to be able to say these five simple words, and it’s still hard for me to say.

Three years ago, as a freshman in college, I led a secret life of unhealthy eating patterns. I would essentially starve myself for a week, eating no more than a granola bar or a handful of pretzels a day. Then I’d feel guilty and stupid, so I’d end up binge eating the next week, pigging out on whatever I could find. But then I’d feel gross, the guilt would return, and I’d spend the next week trying to make up for it by cutting back my diet to one small snack a day again.

It started a vicious cycle. But it was all perfectly justifiable in my head. I never went a full day without eating something (no matter how small it was), nor was I forcing anything back up. That’s what defines an eating disorder, right? So what I was doing was obviously no big deal. A big enough deal that I felt the need to hide it, but only because “no one would understand.”

For about six months, I let my insecurities get the best of me. The girl in the mirror wasn’t good enough – her body was flawed, her clothes didn’t fit like they used to, she wasn’t desired, and she wasn’t perfect. I felt like I was falling apart. With my emotions all over the map, I was desperate for something I could control…and I found it.

I wish I could tell you how it ended. But quite honestly, so much of that time in my life is really blurry. I just remember getting to a point where eating only three bites of food made me so full that the thought of taking another bite actually made me feel physically sick. I remember that jolting me back into the binge cycle, and for some reason I didn’t look back. I started eating consistently and stopped skipping meals. I don’t know how. I know it doesn’t make sense.

I should’ve been found out.

I should’ve been pulled kicking and screaming out of my mess.

I should’ve been forced to get help.

But I wasn’t. I walked away the same way I walked in – alone.

And from that very moment forward, I somehow shut out and repressed all memories of what went on. In my mind, those six months never happened that way. I truly believed that and completely forgot my own biggest secret.

It wasn’t until almost a year later that I hit a wall. I felt this darkness inside of me, like a cancer that had been dormant for so long and was finally showing signs. I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. All I knew was that I was bitter, angry, sad and confused…I wanted to scream and cry…but I didn’t know why.

I called Heather, hoping for some simple, uplifting words to “cure” me so I could move on. But instead she challenged me to go face-to-face with a friend, be vulnerable with someone in person instead of over the phone, and get to the real root of the problem. That was much deeper than I wanted to go, so I told her she was being ridiculous, and I decided I’d just handle it and get over it by myself.

But Heather could see through my stubbornness to a deeper issue that I didn’t understand, but clearly didn’t want to address. After a lot of pushing, arguing, challenging, and even threatening (tough love is often her greatest tactic with me), she forced me out of hiding. I reluctantly broke down with my friend Mackenzie (making it very clear, however, that I was only doing it because Heather was making me. To say I was difficult is an understatement).

It turned out to be exactly what I needed. She sat with me and patiently sorted through my mess of emotions. I don’t remember much about that conversation or how we got to this point, but somehow all of her digging brought long-suppressed memories to the surface. I just remember a wave of shock washing over me as the truth set in, and for the very first time I spoke the words, “I think I had an eating disorder.”

I dreaded admitting it to Heather. It wasn’t that I expected her to be angry or disappointed in me. But I definitely wasn’t expecting my guilt and shame to be met with more grace and love than I could have possibly imagined. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, of course, and told me the road ahead would be long, hard and painful. But she promised to walk every single step with me, and to this day she has remained by my side through it all. I can’t tell you how many fights I’ve had with her over me wanting to give up when things get hard and her refusing to let me. But her push is what I’ve needed.

Coming to terms with all of this has been hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And even then I’ve still tried to hold on to some semblance of perfection by saying that I had a “borderline eating disorder” – because it wasn’t typical and I felt like I had never gone “all in,” so I still didn’t want to believe I had a real problem. I just almost had a problem.

Even now I struggle to say the words “eating disorder.” I have yet to even call it what it is – “anorexia.” Typing it out is hard enough, but that word has not yet made it past my lips. I’ve only just recently started to work on that and take another step towards healing.

As much as I want to believe that that time in my life was a phase that is completely over and I will never struggle with it again, it’s not something that just disappears. I’ve had to learn that I still have an eating disorder. Anorexia is a disease that is just as much mental as it is physical. While I may not act on the thoughts and feelings that triggered that problem three years ago, that doesn’t mean those thoughts and feelings don’t still attack me. Frequently. The lies still come. I just choose each and every day how I respond. And that is a choice I will always have to make.

Posting this for the world to see feels like I’m completely shattering the reputation I meticulously built for myself and starting all over. I’m admitting to being a liar. A fake. A fraud.

I’m admitting I’m not perfect.

But by stepping into the light and exposing this truth, I am vowing to try harder.

To choose authenticity when deception is easier to default to.

To fight for healing.

To accept that this is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.

And to believe that my story is still being written…

…and in that, I find hope.

Body Image, Fear, Identity, Relationships, Your Story

Perfectly Imperfect

January 20, 2016

perfectionist

Chelsea’s Story

“So what’s your story?”

I get this question a lot these days, being the “new girl in town” and constantly meeting new people.

My response usually consists of my life’s highlight reel: I was raised in the church…super involved in youth groups and Bible studies…went on three mission trips to Russia…went to a Christian college for a year…left to travel the country with a ministry for two years…then me and my big, bold faith packed up and moved to Nashville to take on the great unknown…and now here I am.

This is the me I tend to share. The me that has life all figured out. I humbly list off all of my perfect little bullet points knowing (from experience) that this is the list that will impress the socks off of most people I meet.

But that’s only because they don’t know about the me in between those events or behind the scenes. The me that I choose not to expose because, well, you just don’t show people the ugly in your life when you’re trying to make a good impression. You show them the perfect.

What I don’t tell people is that I shouldn’t be a virgin. After the situations that I put myself in with my first real boyfriend, parking and spending hours alone “watching movies,” it’s a miracle that I will one day be able to look my husband in the eye and tell him that he will be my first and my only.

I don’t tell people that I have never felt “good enough.” For anyone. Or anything. I so often feel inadequate and like I’m always failing or disappointing the people closest to me. When conflict arises in my family, I feel like I’m the problem…if I’m not there to stir the pot, everyone goes on living much more comfortably without me. With friends, it seems like I’m always the one making the effort, leaving me to wonder, if I didn’t do the work, would they actually reach out and want to keep up with our friendship?

I don’t tell people that one of my deepest desires is to fall in love and get married and have a family…and one of my greatest fears is that I will never have that because I will never be desirable in the eyes of any man (piggy-backing on the fact that I don’t feel like I’m good enough). I’ve never been the girl the guys chase after. I have had one boyfriend, and I did all the pursuing there. I have been pursued only once, and while it was a great change of pace and I learned so much, it just became clear that we weren’t right together before the relationship was ever defined. And now I’ve been single (if I don’t count that undefined “thing” from 2 years ago) for almost 6 years…and some days (most days) it just plain sucks.

I don’t tell people that I am SUPER insecure about my image. I hate summer because I’m not comfortable bearing my jiggle and my dimples in shorts. My flat chest and my big booty make me feel completely disproportionate and awkward. I cut my hair last year for the first time in eight years and I had to really prepare my heart for such a drastic change in my appearance (seriously, I shed some tears and had some intense conversations with the big guy leading up to that appointment).

These are the things I typically hide. Because I’ve become a master of disguise. I’m an actress. And I’ve learned to play confident, secure, and in control really well. I’m not the girl who struggles. I’m the girl who struggling people look to for advice. Because there’s nothing wrong with me.

So I have spent most of my life fighting to maintain this facade of perfection, because if anyone were to see the real me, I would lose all credibility.

Even now, trying to tell you girls this, the simplest thing about me – my story…even that is harder than you know. Because my perfectionism is constantly fighting for control of every move I make and word I say.

Girls, I have revised and scrapped and rewritten this post a dozen times just for my rough draft. I feel like I have to justify my story to you. I have to word it in the most eloquent, perfect way. Because perfectionism is my greatest downfall.

I’m realizing as I write this that I’ve used the words “perfect,” “perfection,” and “perfectionism” so much I probably sound like a broken record. But I guess that’s because that’s been the theme of my story. I am a perfectionist. It affects every area of my life and has been so damaging to me.

I’ve only just begun to be able to admit that I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect. And THAT’S OK. I am human. I will fail. I will struggle. I will fight daily battles, and I’ll have good days and bad. I want to say that I have healed and this is my turning point, but the truth is, this is only the beginning. I have started being honest with myself. I have started being honest with others. And it’s not over. I am still working on weeding out lies, and I’m still finding a way to believe, in the deepest part of my heart, the things I know to be true.

Very few people know any of this about me. It’s only been within the past year that I’ve started telling this story, all my junk and flaws included, instead of the one that sends the message that I have it all together. The one that’s safe. The one that allows me to hide comfortably from the judgement and ridicule I expect and the guilt and shame I feel like I’m drowning in.

I’m only just starting to learn that I will not sink. My head will stay above water, and in fact, I will rise. Because this is not what defines me. This is only a part of my story.

Body Image, Identity, Relationships, Sex, Your Story

The Serial Dater

January 13, 2016

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Allison’s Story

I really can’t remember a time that I didn’t like a boy.

In elementary school, I had a HUGE crush on this boy in church all the way up to middle school. He was clearly not interested in girls at the time (more like interested in making fun of girls), so I just dealt with the warm fuzzy feelings for him. Then I went to middle school, and again, I was interested in a few different guys all through middle school, but no boyfriend really because no one liked me back. But these years for me were not in my favor in physical appearance. At all…thanks to the big round glasses, super short hair with big bangs, and braces.

Once high school came, I improved a bit physically. I basically went on a rampage of having “things” with boys, which is when you aren’t officially boyfriend/girlfriend but still have this understood relationship without a real commitment. I was really good at having “things”.

I made a pact that I wasn’t going to have a boyfriend in high school because I thought dating should be meant for the purpose of finding your spouse. Obviously, I wasn’t ready for that, so instead of dating guys, I’d just lead them on. I thought this was okay at the time because it seemed harmless. Since I wanted to be a good girl, these “things” for me included hanging out alone together, kissing, and never really wanting a commitment. I was essentially playing with fire.

No serious damage was done sexually, but definitely some damage emotionally. These guys would say really crude and sexual things to me and try to get me to do sexual things with them. These relationships were solely based off attraction. I ended up feeling like a physical object for their enjoyment because I liked being desired.

I wish I had treated these guys in a way by showing them who Jesus is and how much He loves us. But I didn’t. I thought myself as a victim then, but now I see in so many ways that so much of what I experienced then was also my fault. I chose to be around guys that didn’t love Jesus, and I chose to lead them on.

As soon as I got into college, I got involved in a bible study with Cru in my dorm. One week they talked to us about boys and encouraged us to make a list of all the qualities/characteristics we want in our future husbands.

When I wrote my own list freshman year of college, I had almost 70 things listed. I was SO excited to pray that God gives me the kind of husband that would match my list. I thought this would help me stay away from the kind of guys I liked in high school.

I wanted to focus on finding the perfect guy who really loved God and would be a great husband. I used my list as my standard and to justify dating certain guys that were obviously not right for me. Some of the guys I dated said the right things as Christians should, but then our relationship went sour.

My initial instinct is to do whatever makes me feel good, just like my downfall with guys in high school. And honestly, it felt good and it was easy to keep going further physically. It seemed okay because I believed the lie that everyone messed up physically in a relationship, and as long as he was sorry and admitted he didn’t want to keep going that far physically, then we could stay together. I put more value in the good feeling rather than how it would affect me later.  Thankfully I didn’t have sex. But still the temptation was strong and this led to broken relationships. Instead of wallowing in these broken relationships though, I decided to remember God’s GRACE and how he loves me just the same. This motivated me to continue to follow Him alone. And there is SO much joy there!

I also dated some really great guys in college that I really thought I could marry. One in particular, my friends and family really liked. He truly loved God and it was evident in the way he lived. But I was still so confused and sad because deep down I knew that he wasn’t the one. By this point I was so frustrated because I felt like a serial dater, but all I wanted was to find my husband. I hated the long line of broken relationships I was causing though.

After years of dating, when I started hanging out with Jim, my now husband(!), I freaked out. I started liking Jim less than a month after I broke up with someone else. I was so nervous this one wasn’t going to work out either.

I was so tired and frustrated of dating, giving my heart to a guy that ended up not even being my friend, I knew that I could not do this on my own or figure it out on my own. I felt a HUGE need for God’s guidance and I was finally okay with letting go of control.

The pact that I made to not date and the list that I had to find the perfect guy, though these were not bad things themselves, still distracted me from where my focus should have been… I was focused on things that didn’t matter and that distracted me from following Jesus. HE is the giver of all good gifts. HE gives us peace, joy, safety, and security if we follow Him.

Jim and I both had a lot of doubts at the beginning of our relationships since we both had dated and it never worked out. But we also took a step of faith, each in our own way, and even though we didn’t necessarily feel like it, we decided to just focus on following God and being who He wanted us to be instead of worrying about the other person and what he/she was thinking.

I can honestly say being with Jim is better than anything I ever imagined. It all makes sense now and Jim and I both attest that the reason we are together is because God put us together, it was nothing we did on our own. And I am so glad that I can give all the credit to God for my marriage and not take any credit myself! He is the Giver of all good gifts.

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.

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