Pretty much every day, at some point, an idea pops into my head, something I know the Lord wants me to write about either on here, in my journal, or in my word document that I pray will eventually make itself into a book. Recently, sadly, I havent been doing much writing of any kind. I have written and rewritten so many "pages", blog posts, journal entries, etc.; and yet somehow I am praying that this post gets a "publish".
I recently read a book called "God loves Ugly and love makes beautiful" by Christa Black. I had been wanting to read this for awhile, and every time I went to Barnes and Noble or on Amazon to buy a book, I would forget or find another book I wanted. Well, I finally remembered and ordered it on Amazon, and it showed up on a Tuesday afternoon when I least expected it. I opened the book at about 5:30pm with curiosity and intimidation.
The back cover reads:
"Your eyes can lie. Rejection, shame, and self-hatred can poison perceptions and hinder us from seeing and believing what's true. In GOD LOVES UGLY, Christa Black shares her personal victory against powerful adversaries-her own thoughts, feelings, and reflection. From world-touring stadium performer to rehab-bound bulimic binge eater, Christa and her unashamed transparency will win your heart, hold your attention, and give us pratical tools to overcome monsters that can consume our lives. She invites us into her painful struggles and spiritual journey, providing solutions to life's problems in highly entertaining and vulnerable, yet empowering, way. You were made to live free. Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, depression, addiction, or just feeling a little insecure, GOD LOVES UGLY will shift the way you think, motivate permanent change, and inspire your heart to find peace."
I mean, if that back cover alone doesnt make you want to read this book, I don't know what will.
Christa toured with The Jonas Brothers and she is a wonderful performer and song writer. She started the book by talking about how whenever she would see these teenie-bopper girls she just really wanted to be a friend, mentor, and cheerleader for those girls; how she wanted them to have help and guidance through the rough waters of young adult life that she had already sailed (not smoothly). Christa talked about the capacity of your Love Bucket, and how when we believe lies about ourselves the hole in our hearts where love resides is like a leaky bucket. "people cope in different ways when they believe lies about themselves. They act differently when they believe they are unwanted, rejected, or damaged- maybe believing they're dirty, wrong, or unlovable. My beliefs about myselfmight not have been true, but they were the most powerful things in my little universe, and I unconsciously lived through their power every day (pg10)". Wow, its only on page 10, but some how this writer, this lady who never met me, let alone even knows who I am, it was like she knew my heart and could see inside my journal! I shut the book, closed my eyes, and said "no freaking way". I quickly opened the book and continued reading as fast as I could. I wanted to obsorb and read everything this book had to offer.
The three pages over I read this:
"On top of everything, being loved continuously when you believe that you're unlovable is like throwing salt on a wound. It stings like acid. You want it desperately, instincitively knowing deep down you were wired to need it. In fact, I guarantee you even Adolf Hitler, when he was a baby, longed to be loved and held and cherished. But the more love my parents gave, the more unworthy of love I behaved, constantly trying to find ways to make up for the void and the pain that resided like a monster inside my heart."
What?! I reread that. again and again and again. I found my highlighter and covered the paragraph. As I read this once again, I am in shock, complete shock that someone could help my heart understand why I push away people who really love me (not ALL the time, just when I feel like I really want to be around them and I don't think it will be reciprocated). It was a pararaph that changed me, forever. I don't feel worthy of love because my pain was/is heavy and I carry it around like a tattoo on my forehead that only I know is there.
For my 20th birthday (2010), I got a tattoo (the only one I have), its on my left wrist and it reads "You're worth it". When I got it, I got it because I knew what it was like to feel completely unworthy and so many days I woke up dreading a day that I would have to face the fact that the Savior of the world died for me and I wasnt worthy because I was gross, dirty, and unlovable. Then I heard Mattie Montgomery's spoken word track called "You're worth it".
(listen here: http://youtu.be/1sFRoWIC92I )
I been asked by one singular person (my friend Brian Beeson) why I got it and what it means for me. It was only a few months after I got it, we were having lunch and he asked me. He always asks question in a way that you are not sure how to really answer, even when you know the answer. I told him that I got it because for so long I felt unwanted, unworthy, and unloved. And one day, in the summer of 2010, I realized that it may take me awhile to feel wanted, worthy, and loved BUT I knew that I never ever wanted anyone to ever feel the way I felt. I told my friend, that I got this permanent reminder because I wanted to be able to constantly remind myself that Jesus calls me worthy, and that I never wanted anyone around me to ever feel that way. My friend smiled because he knew that as much as he wasnt "supportive" of my now tattooed wrist, he knew that I was telling him the truth and he told me that that was the first deep thing I had told him (when I first met Brian Beeson, I was intimidated because he radiated Jesus, every word out of his mouth glorified the Lord and that scared me because THAT guy wanted to be around me and be my friend, needless to say, I did very little talking around Brian, except maybe saying sorry alot and agreeing with most things he said)
With that said, I have officially had this tattoo for 1,597 days (in retrospect of my life thats only 4 years and about 5 months) but not one day have I ever regretted it. There have been days where, it was "less convenient" than others. When I am in Kenya, I cover it because tattoos have an entirely different meaning there. There have also been days where I have completely forgotten about it, and caught a glimpse of it in the mirror or while I am washing my hair in the shower. And nowadays, the baby I babysit all day likes to touch it and make a face like "what the heck is that?", and I always look at him and say "Thomas Patrick, Jesus loves you and I pray that every day you remember who you are in Him." That was the point of this, wasnt it? A perminent reminder to me, to remind those around me that they are LOVED and WANTED by the one true King, definitely, without a doubt.
"Fear is the most crippling emotion. It brings out the worst of the worst if you let it. It kills hope, dreams, and destiny. (God Loves Ugly, pg 67)" Fear is gross, I know that I could get You're Worth It, tattooed on my forhead and I would still have days and nights that functioning because hard because fear has resided where bravery should be. Just recently, I had a night where I felt like there were strips of scotch tape holding my eyelids open, making me unable to sleep. This is frustrating to me in more ways than one because I like to sleep and I like that I can turn off my brain (usually) and dream about frolicking in a field of sunflowers, playing with Faith in Kenya, or the day I get married (yes thats actually been dreamt about). If someone came up to me, and asked me what I was afraid of I wouldn't have to thikn twice about saying "SHARKS!". They terrify me and I can never watch shark week because then I definitely wont be sleeping at all....for awhile. Yet, while I was reading GLU (God Loves Ugly), she prompted a few questions "What are you truly afraid of? what have you not allowed yourself to become out of fear? what are the deams that you dont dare dream because you're afraid they're too big? what are the secret desires and passions of your heart? You weren't born to be dearful; you learned how to be fearful from disappointments, circumstances, and experiences. There is a reason behind every fear. (pg 67)" My fear behind sharks, it mostly that when they are "shown" in a movie, coming at someone who is swimming in the ocean, they come out of no where and the person has no idea! If I really thought about it, I could probably write about all the things I am deeply afraid of: never getting married, never being good enough for anyone, never being someone that someone else couldn't live without, never finishing my teaching credential, never living up to the hope and potential in my life.
There is a story, that I don't tell because it offends too many people, which is ironic because it happened to me. It's a story that wont ever fully be written on here (but I am praying about writing it in "the" book). I am so thankful the people I have gotten to share my story (face-to-face) because I think that it helps make sense for alot of who I am. In GLU, Christa talks about how every experience, every circumstance, every word said to you, every person you know, every feeling you have affects who you are your fears, beliefs, your confidence, your hope, the way you love, etc. I know that makes sense but its wasnt until I read the words in her book, that I realized that I have always known that, but no one has ever told me that thats ok. It's ok that because failed a college class, that school makes me feel like a failure; its ok that because after an emotional event I was told I was worthless, that I don't feel that I am worth the dirt on the bottom of people's shoes; its ok that because I was told by someone that "I love you" was automatically followed by "but you would be prettier if...", that I have a weight problem because I have made that the loudest voice in my head. All of this is ok, BUT ITS NOT WHAT GOD WANTS FOR ME! He created me to live in my destiny that calls me to live passionately and unabandoned to HIM!
One of my biggest issues with Christian self-help or encouragement books when people write about their own journey or story, I always have a hard time when I read the last page because I feel like its always "well you read the whole book, it HAS to change your life which means that right now you are going to be a better person, better Christian, better daughter, better friend. The person who wrote this book figured it out and shared it with you, so now just do what they are doing be better, be different." But wait? what happens when I wake up tomorrow and hate the way I look, or when I wake up and eat a donut for breakfast (and hate myself later), or when I show up to work a little grouchy because I couldnt sleep the night before, or when I am short with my roommate because I want 5 minutes all to myself, or when I do exactly the opposite of what the book says and live in fear and hopelessness for a day? Where is the in between? The in between of not knowing, then knowing, and then "having it all perfectly together". One of my favorite things about GLU, is that Christa talks about her eating disorder and that there are still days when she wakes up and hates herself, but she rememebers who she is in Jesus, she stands in front of the mirror and spouts bits of encouragement in the image of herself she sees. I appreciated the fact that she admitted that its never over and you'll never have it all figured out.
I have recently been going to some stuff, that will probably never get shared intimately with anyone else, simply because its shameful and embarressing (you can make up whatever you want, I promise you probably wont be right #sorry). Anyways I have seen the Lord work in my life recently in small important ways; ways in which unless I take a step back, I probably wouldnt ever notice. A few months ago, I was begging the Lord for a job. One day He said, "what do you want? what kind of job cna your heart handle?" (no, its not like he didnt know, but its so important to be honest and vulnerable with the Lord). I told the Lord that I wanted 1. to work as a nanny 2. with a family who loved the Lord 3. with a family who respected me 4. with a family that the dad wouldnt be awkward or uncomfortable around me 5. with a family who wasnt funny about paying me (like I have had a family pay me in quarters one time, and another family who no matter how many times I babysit for them they never pay me the right amount) 6. with a family that lived in a safe neighborhood 7. nanny for a kid who was happy and didnt mind that they spent all day with someone who wasnt mom or dad 8. lastly I wanted to work somewhere close to my house so that I wouldn't have to drive too far and put alot more miles on my car 9. have a job that I love waking up and going to every day. Who knew that just a short (but it felt like forever) month later, I was put in contact with the O'Hara family (through a friend of a friend of a friend). I met with the mom of the family and started the first Monday in November watching her son (who was 6 months old at the time) days a week; now a few months later I work FULL TIME watching this sweet boy and working for his wonderful parents! It's close to my house, I absolutely love this family, and I absolutely love getting up and going to work every day (well just 4 days a week). The day I verbally asked the Lord for specifics on the job I wanted, I was skeptical and I felt like I was overreaching and asking too much. Even after everything, it's crazy that I am still surprised when the Lord really comes through when I ask for something.
Now that this is the longest post of all time, I would love to express that this was just a bunch of jumbled thoughts put together to say that I am thankful for this awkward, interesting, gracious stage of life I am in. I am thankful that as much as I love my job, I wont be doing it much longer than a year because I am definitely going to become a teacher (soon!)! God is good and every day I am thankful for this journey.
(that's a weird ending for a post that took a week to write :))
Also, I (obviously) highly recommend the book called GOD LOVES UGLY by Christa Black.
Read it. Soak it in. Learn from it. Share it. Love it.