Meet Kristin. She shared her story with me years ago. It has directed some of my discussions with my teenaged daughters. It has helped me when going through this season where I have felt like my idea of beauty has been completely reworked. This struggle is real and isolating, the feeling of not enough or not good enough. I appreciate her honesty and courage in sharing her story here.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
God looks at the heart. What a joy that is to know. I think most of us try to teach our kids that their thoughts and actions are important, whether we are believers, or not. Most parents realize that if the focus is on the outer man, they are headed for trouble. But somewhere along the way, we let that voice in. The evidence is everywhere. More eating disorders, more skin showing, the weight loss pills, the endless comparisons…the list goes on and on. Now I can’t sit here and tell you I never think about my outward appearance. There are times when I miss my size 4-6 figure. My unwrinkled and blotch free skin, my young looking hands, my narrow feet…sigh. Yes, there are times. But here’s the deal. God uses His word to give us the antidote. It’s right there. And it’s peaceful. It releases us from the bondage that society would keep us in, telling us that we have to have the right brands/be the right size/be young/be tall/be anything other than what you are. In fact, it challenges us to continually look inward. Not try to make ourselves look younger or hotter through whatever products or surgery we can find. If God does not concern Himself with our outward appearance, why should we make it such a big concern.
Now, I’m certainly not talking about health here. Health is important. God did give us the vessel we’re in, after all. But think through that. HE gave it to us. He told us, “This is the one you’ve got!” Use it well. So yes, it is good to think about our health in a reasonable way. But what should be first on our home improvement list? Often the last place we look: Our heart. That is where it’s at. That is the good stuff.
As a young adult, I finally found a good, what I would call, Biblical Counselor. He was a Psychologist but relied on the Word of God to heal people, not the secular labels and treatments I had become so familiar with. I had needed a counselor like him for over a decade. I’d been through some tough stuff. I had matured very young, and early on, seemed to be a prime target for rumors of a sexual nature. Even in Junior High, I heard stories told about me, that simply never happened. I must have seemed an easy target. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t take long for me to buy into their lies and assume the identity which had been foisted upon me. I didn’t really have any others to go with at the time. After years of name calling, being groped in the hallways, an incident with a 32 year old man when I was 14, and an attempted rape by a friend when I was 15, I gave up hope that I would be anything else. I had been a very smart, musically talented, athletic, and nice girl in elementary school. By the time I walked into high school in 10th grade, I was whatever people wanted me to be. I could play any role. I was lost. I had no idea how lost I would become, or how far I would have to fall before I would learn the truth.
When I was 25 and had already gone through a divorce, had no career, very few friends, and a trail of other destruction behind me, I started to wake up. I wish I could say I got it then. I’ll let you know when I do get it fully. (Oh wait. I won’t be here when that happens. I’ll be standing before the KING!) But at age 25, it began. Can I just say, “THANK YOU, LORD!!!” He is so good and merciful. He preserved me and saved me. Many, many people had turned their backs on me, but He never stopped pursuing me, protecting me, loving me, and waiting for me. Isn’t that amazing?
So here I am today. I’m 45 years old. I’m wrinkled, chubby, sun damaged, gray haired, and still haven’t experienced that growth spurt I was promised by my doctors which will deliver me to an “average” height. But I can tell you, I’ve never felt better. Mind you, I still can fall into the trap of comparisons at times. Thanks to Facebook Fabulous and Pinterest Perfect, it has become too easy to look at our outer selves, our homes, our kids, and our lives in general, and walk away thinking that we have really missed the mark…whatever that mark is.
I have learned though, that the work of the Father in my heart is the source of peace with my outer person and every other area in my life. He has shown me that all those years in the past, I was still His child. And I will still be in all my years to come. My identity was not what those people said about me. My identity wasn’t what people did to me, and it wasn’t what I did to myself. I was HIS, and He was patiently awaiting my awakening. He was ready to show me His joy, hope, peace, and His great love. He began showing me the areas of my heart that needing healing, but that also needed hard work. It took a tremendous amount of work on His part and on mine to pull me out of the pit, but He uses every bit of it for my good and His glory!
At my little church in Victoria, MN, we have a free, biblical counseling ministry. The Lord has used my struggles, and given me a desire to show others the roadmap to healing a wounded heart. This journey takes people through His word, through His mercy and grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, and through our relationship with Jesus. When Melissa recently re-sent me my strengths, I was just delighted in how God had been at work my whole life trying to show me how those gifts could be used to do His will. Developer, Includer, Belief, Positivity, Empathy. They lend themselves well to counseling others through difficult times. Unfortunately, there is an enemy who feeds off of getting us to use them for our destruction. He nearly got me by convincing me that it was all about my will. But he didn’t! Praise God, I’m free! I make mistakes. I fall down. But God is there to dust me off and remind me that I was never apart from Him, and that everything good that is in me is because of Him. So any worries about me not being enough? I need to check those at the door. If He made me, I’m enough for whatever He put me here for. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect. But in Him, I’m enough. Wrinkles, rolls, moles, blotches, spots, silver and all. All because of Him.