Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week 15: Be Altered

The Alteration

The Alteration

On the campus of Southwest Baptist University (SBU) – a small university in southwest Missouri – a group of compassionate young women came together in prayer to seek the Lord’s will for themselves, for their sisters on campus and in their community. Last weekend, The Alteration – a women’s conference focused on identity and authenticity – was held as a result of their prayers. I had the honor of leading a breakout session at The Alteration.

The SBU Bearcats are crouched in the middle of what looks like farm country in Bolivar, Missouri. Because the city is so small (population just over 10,000), I stayed just thirty minutes south in the city of Springfield. The thirty minute drive between my hotel and the school felt nothing like the big city thirty minute commute to which I am accustomed. However, it gave me a wonderful time of reflection on Friday and Saturday evenings, after I left campus and returned to my hotel room.

Still reflecting

I’ve spent the past week still reflecting on my time at the conference – the sessions and each amazing young woman I had the pleasure of meeting. It’s taken me a whole week to write about it because it feels like such a travesty to have to sum up the experience in just a few short words. I don’t know about the young women who attended, but I learned lessons that began before I arrived, visited while I was there and have become faithful companions since my return.

Three of those lessons – most valuable truths and arguments for authenticity – that have settled with me are as follows:

      1. People will either like you or they won’t. Pretty basic right? But the latter (or they won’t) is often a tough pill to swallow. Truth is there’s usually no in between. Some may even have a heart to like you but their head simply won’t allow it. Sad, but true…
      2. People will either cling to you or keep their distance. And this really isn’t a bad thing. However, watch out for those who may be loitering for questionable reasons. Learning to discern is key. Learning to guard your heart is even more important.
      3. People will either be inspired or intimidated by you. Sometimes a person’s actions toward you are based off intimidation by the good they see in you. This has nothing to do with you, so DON’T OWN IT. And by all means don’t hide your true self to keep the peace or to keep the person. Sure we have some bad parts that may strike a nerve, as well. Healthy relationships embrace the good, cover the flaws and love unconditionally. If a person truly intends to love you for who you are, your flaws won’t unnerve them quite as much.

And guess what… We have no control over any of this.

In closing, I’ve heard great teachers express that one should teach from the overflow of his/her life. Life has definitely taught me (and continues to do so) many lessons about knowing who I am and being myself. I tried to teach from that overflow during my time at SBU.

My sessions ran over, and I was deeply blessed by the young ladies who were late for their next stop because they took a few extra minutes to share their stories with me. My prayers are definitely going up for more opportunities like that one.

So remember, hiding you true self to avoid the pain of judgment and rejection or to pacify the issues of someone else’s life does you both a disservice. Learning to just be yourself… Well that may just set you both free.

P.S. Special thank you to my oldest Princess, Trinity. Your Auntie is super proud of you and hopes she represented you well, my dear. 🙂

Me and my oldest pricess

Me and my oldest princess

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 11: Be Authentic

If we get used to love that comes to our masked self, how will we ever experience the joy of authentic love that only comes to ones true self?

Week 11_Be AuthenticI’ve been invited to lead a breakout session for a women’s conference in April. The conference will be  hosted by a university which means I get the privilege of chatting it up with college women for a day. Yay me! I am so, so excited.

The conference theme is The Alteration: Acceptance Starts Here. Don’t you just love it? In my breakout session, I’ll get to chat about how this theme plays out in the lives of single women. Wow. Being only a step or two beyond my years as an unmarried woman, my heart is definitely quite soft toward the session and the lovely young women who will attend.

The event promises to be one that encourages young women to “unmask” and embrace their true identity. In a word, this conference is about “authenticity.” Sound familiar?

Merriam-Webster simply defines the word authentic as: “real or genuine: not copied or false.” Wearing a mask certainly has only one purpose and that’s to falsify or to conceal ones true identity.

As I’ve been pondering my session and what the Lord may have me to say on this subject, I can’t help but think about our 52 week journey together here. I hope you’ve gathered by now that the goal that drives 52 Weeks to Be Completely You is to encourage women (including myself) to embrace and love their authentic selves.

So why am I hosting a blog community and a year-long series dedicated to women embracing and loving their true selves? For a long time I’ve noticed we as women have a hard time simply being ourselves. It seems we seldom think “the real me” is good enough – to be appreciated, to be loved. So we create masks to cover the areas we’re ashamed of or deem unlovable. The world – media, social media, etc – has painted a picture of perfection and we are trying our best to live up to it, convinced that our imperfect self is not worthy of love just as we are.

Of course this is far from the truth. In my own life, I have certainly learned that the most genuine love found me in the places where I was free to or brave enough to simply be myself – flaws and all. I’ve also found it’s the craziness of my life that resonates most with other women. Why? My guess is it’s because they can relate and feel pretty darn relieved to learn they’re not alone in their imperfection.

We’ll chit chat about authenticity a bit more during our 52 weeks together. It’s something that weighs heavily on my heart. In the meantime, consider this question:

Why do we girls fear authenticity so much?

#52weekstoBE

#becompletelyyou

 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Great Eraser

Sometimes I flash back to past sins, past decisions that lacked wisdom and past seasons of overall questionable judgement (despite the best intentions) that have shaped my life. I don’t know why I do it. I promise you it’s totally involuntary, and it always seems to happen at the oddest moments.

Like at 1-ish in the a.m. when I’m in bed and should be trying to get some rest. Has this ever happened to you?

It happened to me just the other night. I was laying in bed, grasping at sleep as if trying to catch the wind in my hands, because my mind had other plans. As soon as I closed my eyes, there it was. An entire season of my life – a season filled with painful relationship rejections, poor choices, and misguided faith – began to flash before me as if on the big screen. If only this had been a real Hollywood production, I could graciously accept my Academy Award for best actress, deliver my eloquent and heartfelt acceptance speech and exit stage left. But nooo…. The scenes playing in my head were real. The participants were not actors and there are no golden statues for the role I played. Guilt and shame tend not to feel much like awards.

The onslaught of negativity threatened my sleep, my peace and even my identity. My brain struggled to reach for God’s word.

…He blots out your transgressions…

These words popped into my head. I remembered the scripture, but I couldn’t recall exactly where it was in the bible. So, I jumped up and grabbed my phone from the wall charger. With only 17 or 18% battery life remaining, I googled the scripture verse
then thumb-typed, like a mad woman, the makings of this blog post in my notepad app. I had to capture this blessed revelation before it disappeared. Sure it was late, and I was super tired. I’d found the scripture for myself. But I figured I’m not the only woman whose mind sometimes turns against her. I know I’m not the only one who endures the albeit occasional yet brutal brow beating by past sins and general less than stellar moments. I figured someone else, one of my other girlfriends out there, may need to be reminded of (or maybe even learn of for the first time) this promise from God just as much as I needed to be reminded of it myself. Someone else may need to know that there is a great eraser.

So there it is. If the Lord has promised to wipe away my sins and remember them no more, then I’d wager (if I were a betting woman, WHICH I am NOT, but IF I were… ;-)) He doesn’t want me dwelling on them either – voluntarily or involuntarily. And His perfect will is the same for you, too.

Do your past faux pas still occasionally try to rear their ugly heads and taunt you today? If so, how do you deal with them?

P.S. If this post blessed you, pass it on. If you know someone who may be blessed by this post, pass it on.