Monday, January 11, 2016

A Work in Progress......

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

In my line of work I have been blessed to meet many women. I have met women all over the United States as well as women in Ethiopia and Moldova. Lord willing, I will meet many more. My heart bleeds for these women. They come from all walks of life, all different levels of education and income, different careers and aspirations; yet they have all voiced a common thread of disillusionment with life...none have been happy with themselves, where they are in the moment.

These seemingly simple disappointments range from the physical to the emotional to the psychological, but they all served as a reminder that each of these women were not yet to the proverbial THERE. In my 38 years on earth I can count on one hand the women who were accepting of themselves and their current state. This is something I want to change for future generations....

Please understand, I am not saying it is wrong to want to better yourself in any way. The problem comes when we see ourselves as lacking as opposed to content and simply seeking betterment. I think that some of this disillusionment comes from the overwhelming theme of women being a "work in progress". We have been taught from a young age that we just simply aren't there. We need to grow into our eyebrows, our jeans, or even our bra size. We have growing to do to be able to be fully used in any kind of ministry. And, somewhere along the way, we began to believe and teach that a lady who graciously accepts a compliment must be conceited. It's enough to make your curly hair straighten from the weight of the load!

I have been painfully aware of the "work in progress" mentality since I was a youngster. I was raised by a line of women who were never finished getting THERE. Chronic dieting and physical degradation was a part of my daily life from a young age. To me, it was normal to feel this way. It was agreeable to be dissatisfied with different aspects. Should I have ever gotten my body in shape then I would need to focus on my other many flaws. Make no mistake, this type of living is not living freely, nor is it living in our power. And if we aren't living in our power, then I'm afraid we stay under Satan's thumb. Friend, that's not freedom.

The reality of this behavior struck me almost mute a little over a year ago. I was on my second trip to Chisinau, Moldova in May of 2014. I had the privilege of taking my daughter as well, and fully expected this to be an eye opening journey for her. The cause for the trip had been over a year in the making: I was to train one of the girls from the safe house I visited a year earlier and train her to be able to help others. I was also able to spend time in both the safe house and the prevention home during my days there.

The girls in this safe house have endured more atrocities than many of us can imagine, myself included. These girls were sold into human slavery, often by their own parents. They have been raped repeatedly and finally rescued and brought to a place of refuge. The girls in the prevention center were at risk of the same fate and often related to the girls in the other home. This history is important for the next part of the story.

I visited both houses several times and spoke to the girls on self care (the medical system is severely lacking in Moldova), self defense, and the love of Jesus and his true restoration power. After each session I would open the floor for any questions. As I prepared myself to really hit the mark and be flooded with girls needing prayer (more on how I jump the gun later), I was completely shocked by the questions that flooded the room:
  • How do I get my belly flat?
  • How do I lose weight?
  • How do I fix my arms/legs/butt/etc?
Honestly, it was an eye opener for my teenage daughter.....this self deprecation spans the globe and all social status.

So now that we have identified the problem, how do we fix it? I mean, it seems far too large and deeply rooted in the culture of women right?

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The answer lies fully in where we find our strength, power and freedom. If I look to myself, my jean size (don't get me started on that), others opinions, or the world's point of view, then I will ALWAYS be a work in progress. I will always be taking my place back at the end of the line. I will always circle back only to what I know....and I will not fasten my hope to what I believe.

Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
So the real question to turning the tides of this image crisis is this: What is your belief?

Stick around, dear friends, we're in this together and we will finish together. We can set our hope on the Most High and find the freedom we desperately seek.

Now it's your turn! Join in the conversation and let your voice be heard!

Do you struggle with a not-there-yet mentality that could be holding you back?

Have you overcome body image issues? If so, how?

Do you have a go-to verse that creates a strong foundation in your life? Please share!