This Is Me: Accepting How God Made Me

Never has it been harder to accept who we are than the age we are in right now. Though our western society has hashtags galore to promote beauty standards and “accept yourself” movements, people are more insecure, lost, and self-haters than ever before. We are a culture obsessed with self {hence, selfies} as well as having health/beauty standards that are impossible to live up to consistently throughout our lives.
And I have had enough, really. I’m tired of thinking that God made a mistake with me. I’m tired of thinking that because I’m not {insert whatever here} then I must be ugly. I’m sick of feeling that because I am not the same size that I used to be means I’m fat or ugly or unworthy. I’m sick of all the lies.
You see, becoming a mother has changed the game a lot. And becoming a mother to a daughter has heightened the stakes. The research and surveys that show girls are worrying about their weight as young as five is staggering. And that there are girls who have not even hit their “tweens” that are dieting. Like, that is just appalling.
We have to do something about this.

There is a lie floating around Christian circles that protecting children from “the world” is bad. Some people believe that if children are protected too much from this broken world that it will cause them to rebel later down the track etc. This is ridiculous. What makes children rebel? Sin. Whether they are exposed or not, they have wills of their own and they will choose how they live, whether following the way their parents lead them to or not.
But, parents have an explicit duty towards God to raise the children He has placed them in their care in the ways of the Lord. And the more I grow in understanding of the Word, and the more I see this world around us, the more I see that His ways are so, so, so radically different. I’m realising that we are, as Christians, supposed to be radically different. 
What made Israel a holy nation was that they were chosen and set a part. Things turned ugly for them {ie. when Babylon almost wiped them off the face of the earth} when they became a part of the world around them. When they wanted a golden cow, when they wanted kings instead of priests, when the wanted this or that – and not God and His ways. Things just went ka-pooey.
And God has a radically different view about ME – who I am, how I look, how I am made up – than the world does. And His view of me NEVER gets me down or in a state of self-loathing. His view of me ALWAYS glorifies Himself and the incredible creative love and honour He bestows upon those whom He creates.
Is it not incredible the workings of DNA? Is it not amazing that my large nose had been carried down through generations from our German/Jewish background? Isn’t it amazing that my light blonde hair, freckles and light skin come from some Scandanavian Saxon thousands of years ago? Isn’t amazing that my daughter is the spitting image of her name-sake grandmother when she was the same age in the late 1940’s?
But my flaws are amazing too… The weight I cannot shake for the life of me. The varicose veins gifted to me from my mother and Nana. My lack of mathematical ability. These things are no less amazing because they are – percieved by me – to be negatives. They are amazing because, for some reason or another, when God knitted me in the womb, fearfully and wonderfully; when He arranged the history of my peoples in my blood and thought of what would most glorify Him, He chose these things.
Who am I – and who is society – to tell Him He was wrong?
I find the less I watch the things of this world – Facebook, gossip sites, movies etc – the less dissatisfied I am with myself. When my eyes turn away from the world {which tells me to simultaneously believe in myself as I am whilst promoting their form of beauty as the right form} and more on Him, the more I realise that true beauty is so much more beautiful, so different, so varied, so unconventional, so less outward-related that I am amazed.
And I see that health is beautiful. Not a no-sugar, only meat, no carbs sort of health. The health I mean is one where what you do with your body – whether eating or exercising – is to the glory of God. And eating chocolate can glorify God, people, because chocolate is GOOD! And so is moving the body in exercise so you’re using the muscles in the way they’re supposed to be used – by working. Working our bodies the way they are supposed to be worked is part of the beauty God has made.
We’re under grace so I’m not talking about laws and rules of what is or isn’t beauty. We can be fashionable and wear make-up and dye our hair. But our hearts have to have God-glorifying motivations. Am I wearing make-up to hide what I think is an ugly face? Am I wearing this dress to show off my curves? Am I covering up not because it’s modest but because I don’t want anyone to look at me?
I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. All I wanted to get out there is that Christian women have got to take back beauty, not for themselves, but for God. We’ve got to be radically different in how he portray beauty to the world around us because we are a holy and set a part people. And we have to radically change what we are doing as mothers so that, as we raise our sons and daughters, the next generation are growing up rooted in God-glorifying, truth-exalting, grace-bestowing beauty.

Women in Need: Am I Bridging the Gap in the Church?

There are many women in need within the Church.
In the book By Design by Susan Hunt, there is a challenge to women to be helpers and advocates for women in, and out of, the Church. Susan Hunt describes how God has given women enormous ministry opportunities within the church. She points out how male leadership sometimes fail women {and most of the time, unintentionally} because of the differences between men and women. These differences are beautiful and necessary, but there can still be a divide. This is where women step in and bridge the gap for the other women in crisis. Part of our helper design isn’t just to be helpers to our husbands or our male ministers/pastors, but to other women, who need us to help others hear their story and be understood. 
And, I feel like the most difficult question to ask myself is, am I a woman whom other women feel they can approach when in desperate need?

Women In Need

This question squares me in the face. I cannot turn away from it. If I am a true lover of Jesus, then I am a true lover of His people. It must be my bent then, to be a woman that other women feel like they can come to – no matter the crisis. Susan explains,

“In this chapter I want to talk about the least recognisable of the wounded – those sitting in the pews next to us. Women who have been raped, battered, abandoned, or abused, or who have caused their own pain by having an abortion, an affair, a struggle with lesbianism, or involvement of a cult, usually think that church is the most unsafe place for them to share their hurt because they think their scars are unacceptable among such ‘respectable’ people.”

Do we really know the women in our church? Is that single woman who has been attending church for a year able to share with you her past of a broken home, abuse, and wayward behaviour? Is the wife and mother, with a kind husband and great kids, able to be vulnerable with you about her struggles with pornography?

“‘Last night at church I invited a single mother to go out for dessert. As we sat and talked, she told me that she has an adult child ‘out there somewhere,’ and that she has had two abortions since then. And all this happened since she has been a Christian. Her tears were dripping on the table, and I know she carries around incredible guilt. I told her what you said about church being a safe place to come and share our struggles. She admitted that she doesn’t feel safe at church. She thinks people would reject if they really knew her.'”

…If they really knew her. Oh, my heart breaks for women who feel that way.
If there is one place on earth that we can be truly known for who we are and accepted as we are, it ought to be the Church. The whole point of us being together is because we all desperately need saving and not one of us are exempt from that. But somewhere along the line we seem to become – or appear to be – “respectable” people that would be too shocked to care, to understand, to be safe.
But as Susan says,

“If the Church is going to act redemptively, we must be honest about who we are – not respectable people but redeemed people, not flawless people but forgiven people.”

Some crises are really blunt. The longer we are joined with Christ the purer and less worldly we become, and so some of the acts of this world can be confronting and scary. We feel overwhelmed about how to help or what to say. But that is okay. The point is if are we authentic enough nthat, even if such crises are not familiar to us, our own need for Jesus enables us to be open so that women in need feel safe, welcomed and addressed with grace and truth.
God has been just taking the surgical scalpel to my heart as I have bee reading and re-reading this chapter in preparation for our study. He’s been revealing pride, “respectability”, fear of daunting sins… But He has also been cultivating in me a heart and a passion for creating women in the Church who are willing and able to be safe places for other women in need. It is a movement we desperately need in our world today. And, as always with movements, it starts with one person – you.

Hope for When We Fail in Our Vision for Motherhood.

This is the third part of my small series on having a vision for motherhood. You can read the first part here, and the second part here.
Fellow visionary mothers: no matter how amazing our God-given vision is for our children, and no matter how much we believe in it, we are going to fail to live up to it. Let us accept that, not beat ourselves with guilt over it, and move on to the only thing that can cover us and our motherhood and our mistakes with grace: God.

“All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack.” ~ Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood

As a Christian mother, this is what God asks of us: having a heart for Him and His ways, and a trust that, as we seek to obey Him in our callings and the vision He has given us as mothers, that He will cover us with grace. God loves our children more than we do. He has got our back. He will redeem what we fall in.
Protecting my children from the feelings I felt as a child with over-committed and distracted parents is a strong aspect of my vision for our children. I believe this strong belief in being a whole-hearted mother is God-given. He is redeeming in me {and, therefore, my children} the lack in my parents. He is covering me with the grace He extended to my parents and, He did this for me at the time when I felt their lack {by giving me friend’s mothers who mothered me in the way I needed}.
But, because of my fallen nature, I still will lack as a mother. I have, and will continue to, make mistakes. Some mistakes will be willful, and many others will be ignorant. There is a part of me that fills up with pure panic when I think of that. There is no way I want my little ones to feel as I have had. And, God-willing, they won’t. Yet, no matter how determined I am – and no matter how godly, or biblical, or passionate my vision is for them – I am going to let them down.
When I don’t turn to God when I am filled with fear over hurting my children, that panic can go into hyperdrive and, by reacting to those emotions, I can over-parent. I can put more pressure on them, and myself, because I am trying to make up for what I lack as a mother. This, by default, will harm my children. I must accept that.
But, when I turn to God when I am filled with fear over hurting my children, my heart can be stilled to peace because I know He has them. I can let go of that control I want to grasp hold of and never let go. I can be free to be imperfect. I can trust, on my worst days, that God will cover the gaps of my motherhood. He will use those gaps for His glory in their lives.

“The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children. He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies , to prepare in their hearts what he has in mind.” ~ Sally Clarkson

So have hope, dear mother. Don’t go into panic-mode if you’ve had a bad day and yelled at the kids and wanted to leave them outside the gate with a sign saying “Free to a good home”. Don’t reach for the control buttons. Bring your heart back and submit it unto the Lord. His yoke is easy, and He gently leads those who have young {Isaiah 40:11}.