“Lord, you placed the stars in the sky, yet you call me beautiful.”
Hi everyone! My name is Sam and I'm one of the guest writers here on the blog. For my first post, I'll keep it short and sweet. If you know me, you know that one of my favorite things to do is look at the stars. If we are close friends, it is likely I've laid in the grass, on a roof, or even on a trampoline with you while looking up at the night sky. Living in a city, I don’t get to see a ton of stars very often, so when I get the chance, I take full advantage. When we’d go to Mexico for mission trips and sit around the fire for worship, we’d shut off all the lights around the camp and just look up. MILLIONS of stars would be scattered around the sky; I didn’t even know that many stars existed until that first night on my first mission trip.
Stars are beautiful.
God created these objects that are just so awe-inspiring to some, yet that was not even the pinnacle of His creation. In Genesis, when He creates Man, it is the last thing He creates, and only then is He able to call it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). So I have to conclude that if God was not satisfied with Creation until He created us, and we were created after the amazing stars, after the mountains, after the oceans, wouldn’t that mean we are more beautiful than those things He created that we call “beautiful”?
Think about that. We call the stars in the night sky beautiful...can you even imagine how beautiful we must be to God? The stars don’t even compare!! And He loves us more than anything. We are made in the very image of God, the most Beautiful One ever.
Next time you look at something lovely, such as the stars, the ocean, mountains, a sunset...remember to turn that same adoration back to yourself when you look in the mirror. Because I think the same way we react when we see something beautiful in nature, is the way God feels about us all the time.
“Isn’t it amazing that the God who created the mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought that the world needed one of you too?”
I’m a large girl.
I always have been. I was the girl at pool parties that wore the one piece when all her friends had cute Victoria’s Secret bikinis. And that’s if I had the courage to actually go to the pool party at all. I didn’t even realize my size was an “issue” until middle school. In elementary school it’s just learn your ABCs, how to count, and enjoy recess on the playground with your friends. We were all kids, we all liked to play, we all had to learn. As I got older I began to recognize the look girls gave me right before they turned around and started whispering. I started to hear honey drip from their mouths but it didn’t seem as sweet and sincere as it used to. I was slowly being forced into a new world where everything I did, wear, or say would be connected to one word: fat.
I was always a happy-go-lucky type of girl. I was also a friendly, open, and frankly naive girl as well. The first day of middle school I was ecstatic. I had the perfect outfit picked out (cheetah print skort with a black scoop neck shirt and big dangly earrings...I said I was friendly, not that I had fashion sense.) I knew, knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would make friends because I was nice and I liked making people happy. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like my 12 year old brain hoped it would. It wasn’t like I walked into school and was pounced on, Savannah-style, by a group of popular girls like I was an antelope ready to be taken down. No, it was actually rather uneventful for a while. I did well in class, I made friends, I excelled in orchestra and was having the time of my life in theater class. It was great to be honest. However, I had begun to notice that tell-tale look the skinny, pretty, popular girls sent me. I tried to ignore it, I knew I had my group of friends, but there is something about the sneer of a fellow classmate that just makes you feel worthless. Middle school isn’t exactly a great time for everyone. I’ve decided that it’s simply a necessary, awkward, rite of passage everyone must endure before becoming a young adult.
While this began to happen, I slowly began to feel less and less like the person I was. I drew back into myself while trying to push forward a fake version of me, plastered on the front like a cheap billboard covering, with the hopes of dissuading my friends. Nothing was wrong. I was normal and the same as ever. I started to have thoughts that said “You’re not as good as them. They’re not really your friends. They take pity on you.” For a while I was in this “in-between”. These thoughts made me feel insecure, but I liked my friends. I felt different, less of myself, but I didn’t want to be that weird kid. I started to hang out with other kids, not exactly the best group. They had bad habits, they pressured me, they made me feel like I belonged, but only if I took part in what they did. I became involved in self-harm. I thought that hurting myself was the best way to fix how I felt. If I’m not worth anything, if I’m not as good as them, I’ll just punish myself for being different. It was twisted, it was sad, but at the time in my life, it seemed right.
I came across a verse the other day. It said “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. Man, if only I had stumbled upon that verse when I was truly broken. If only I had read the Bible at all when I was truly broken. I was so focused on middle-school me that I didn’t have room to let anyone or anything else in. I was selfish, self-centered, and only concerned with how I felt. My friends, my true friends, were worried about me. They tried to help, to intervene, but after being pushed away so much, they stopped helping.
I was in a dark place, even into high school. High school was filled with this urge to be accepted and this need for attention. I was broken, yearning for something, and unable to figure out what it was. Spoiler alert: It was Jesus. I was completely blind to that because I was so obsessed with how I should feel and what I wanted. My life stayed like this for a while until I “thought” I found someone who loved me. He wasn’t my first boyfriend. I had had my first boyfriend during middle school. It was a serious relationship filled with Pokemon and video games with the occasional date to Chic-fil-a. I’m surprised we didn’t get married. But in high school I met this boy who I thought was the end-all, be-all of my life. And to make it even better, he was dating my best friend at the time. I’m telling you, I was just a great person back then. Thank God Jesus changes us and refines us.
I fell head first. It was the first time I felt appreciated. He told me everything I needed to hear. All the accepting words I had missed out on. It felt as if he were healing all the brokenness I felt in middle school. If it felt this good, it had to be right. Right? Wrong. I knew what was right and wrong, but in the midst of hormones, a terrible self-worth, and home alone one night, I made terrible decisions. I gave everything to a guy who would only be a part of my life for a season.
If you couldn’t have guessed it, that boy was not the man I married. He was not, in fact, my end-all, be-all. He was temptation in human form. He was my darkness, personified by the Enemy. He was a tool to take me away from true love and the presence of Jesus.
I don’t say all this to say “pity me” or “poor teenage Sara”. No, that’s not the point at all. The point here is brokenness and the situations we sometimes find ourselves in when we want to be whole so bad, but don’t know how to get fixed. I thought that the attention of a boy, the affection of a guy, would fix all the evil stares and hateful words of girls over the years. I thought that the perfect boyfriend would prove to myself I was worth something. If this cute guy wanted me in an intimate way, I had to be worth something.
I look back on these words now and it makes me want to cry. I want to go back and wrap middle-school me in my arms and gently say “It’s okay. There is love that fixes brokenness but you won’t find it in the arms of a boy. You will find it in the arms of your Father. The almighty Father that knows your worth. That knows each hair on your head and each freckle on your skin. He created you for so much more than this and nothing will change how much you are worth in His eyes.” It hurts even more as a middle school teacher who sees students who look and act just like me all those years ago. I see the pain they wear like rags. I see the way they hope boys will look at them and affirm them. I see the way they yearn for something to fill them. I see that because I was that.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon a website whose slogan stated “Your brokenness is welcome here”. Stop. Rewind. Your brokenness is welcome here. But brokenness. That’s ugly. That’s damaged goods. That’s something unwanted, unworthy, unappreciated. No way that’s what it meant to say. Does that mean God wants this broken, damaged, mistake-making, mess of a person that I am? That’s exactly what it means.
There were points in my past where I felt worthless. I hated who I was when I looked in the mirror. I am proud to say, that isn’t me anymore. I have changed immeasurably and there is only one person to praise for that, not me, but Jesus. He has taken my heart, changed it for the better, and convinced me of how special I am. I have accomplishments, I am proud of myself and how I look. I understand what I am worth. I’m still a big girl but I know I am beautiful. I don’t say that to show off, it’s simply a statement that has taken me years to believe so I will repeat it until the day I die. I am beautiful. I am beautiful first in His sight. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who also agrees to this, but even if he didn’t, I have finally found a place where I believe it for myself. God has truly shown me, through His steadfast love and acceptance, that I am a Daughter of a King and a beautiful person created in His image. Could you think of anything better to hear? I don’t think so.
By Sara Hall
I try to find the beauty in others, but finding the beauty in myself, that’s where I struggle.
Accepting love from God is hard. Sometimes we feel undeserving, not good enough, sometimes we think why would he love me. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
I can vouch for all of them. This last year was one of the hardest years for me. I have battled with an eating disorder for the last few years, and boy oh boy looking at yourself and hating yourself can affect you so much. I was never good enough for myself. I always found the flaws and never looked at the good. I hated myself more than ever. I can vividly remember nights of me sitting in the bathroom crying and wondering how to end the pain. I couldn’t find one thing I liked about myself. I was lower than I had ever been.
Not a lot of people knew what I struggled with. I tried my hardest to hide it. I grew up in church and with a loving family and great friends. A few years ago the devil really got to me. I started to stop seeing me as the fearfully and wonderfully made girl God made (Psalm 139:14) and started to see myself the way the devil wanted me to. It started off with just skipping a few meals every so often. Harmless right? Well every so often turned into everyday, and when I would eat, I would hate myself for it. I started to feel very weak, and the weight I was losing didn’t look like anything to me. I didn’t see a difference in myself, and that made me hate myself even more. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want people to have to look at me. I truly hated myself. I was so distant from God.
It wasn’t until one night I felt God telling me look to Him for for help, I was trying to fight the battle alone. (Isaiah 41:10) I prayed and prayed, and that’s when I began to start healing. But I couldn’t accept the love and grace God was giving me. I still didn’t believe I was good enough. I had no confidence in myself. It wasn’t until I realized that confidence does not come from me or anything I could find on this earth. I had to find my confidence in God and accept the love He was giving me. When I realized that God loved me through it all no matter what and there was nothing I could do to ever make Him not love me, I was enough for Him, just me. It’s hard, but when you finally accept the love God has given you, it’s an amazing feeling, and knowing nothing you can ever do will break that love is even better. No one on earth can ever love you as much as God. I still struggle with my eating disorder everyday. But I have become content with myself and knowing I have a God that loves me so much that he sent His son to die for me. He is always there to listen and right there by your side. He will never leave you or forsake you. (Jeremiah 29:11) The struggle I face is still so real, and I have to work on it everyday. It’s never easy, but when I feel down, looking to God has never failed me. He loved me even when I couldn’t love myself. He is enough for me.
By Brittany Sullivan
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:6-9
Anxiety is so real and so hard. Every single person faces it and goes through it. Paul even wrote about it in the above verse. Read the verse again. Do not be anxious about anything. As a human that's hard because objects and problems are put in our way to make us feel more anxious than we ever thought we could. But as a believer, it's even harder because the enemy will use our anxiety to attack us and make us doubt God. The enemy knows our weaknesses and he is going to take advantage of that to distract us from the One who loves and cares the most.
What causes your anxiety? Is it school? Work? A big decision you need to make? A broken relationship with your mom or dad? Not knowing which step to take next? Anxiety is so hard and inevitable. BUT the good news, sister, is that we serve a God who cares about those feelings. He cares about what is bothering us and causing us anxiety attacks, worrying and sleepless nights. In fact, He is holding His arms wide open ready for you to run to Him and seek comfort in Him.
Paul gives us the solution to our anxiety right after he tells us to not be anxious. But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Any time you are feeling worried, scared, doubtful, fearful, anxious, pray. Pray. God longs to hear your voice and longs to comfort you. He is your Father. And He wants you to come to Him and present your cares to Him.
But Paul doesn't stop there. He goes on to say: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
After you pray and after you go to your loving Father, you must not think on anything else except things that qualify in the list Paul gives us above.
So that tv show you're watching, does it fall in one of those categories? What about the friends you hang around? The conversation you are a part of? The music you listen to? If you fill yourself with the world and all the world gives, that is all that is going to flow out of your heart and mind. But if you fill yourself with God, He will give you a peace that you cannot explain.
Feelings of anxiety are so hard and make us feel so worthless and alone. BUT sister, you are not alone. Turn to an accountability group but ultimately, turn to God. He is the ultimate Comforter and Healer. We are in this together and I am praying for you. God can turn your anxiety into praise and your worries into faith. He is there for you and he loves you more than you will ever know.
By Jessica Calhoun