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Be Brave

Be Brave

guest blog.

Have you ever loved doing something? Where when you do it, deep down you know that yes, this is what you were created to do. You feel alive. You feel cozy, like you’re at home—completely in your element. Not that it’s perfect. No, not even close. You still may have a lot to learn, a lot to grow in, but that’s ok. You know that you are walking in step with the talents, or the gift that the Lord has given you. It definitely has hard parts—it may not come easy, but it’s a joy, it’s worth it- to push through and do it.

That’s how I feel about writing. I feel completely at home with my fingers tap-tapping on the keyboard, or my fingers wrapped around my pen, creating phrases and sentences with a pen in my worn-out journal. It’s here that I process, that I pour my heart out on paper. God speaks to me here. I can be totally real and completely me. No filter. I can make mistakes and it can be messy, but that’s all a part of the process. And the most amazing thing is that I’ve seen God use my words to draw people closer to Himself. To show more of who He is, to bring glory to His awesome name. My passion and His praise meet.

But what happens when you’ve been in a draught- for months? When you don’t want to do the very thing that made you feel alive? It’s so easy to make excuses, to put everything else above it- taking care of Kinsley, laundry, cleaning, cooking, hanging out with friends and family, discipling, crafting, planning parties, and the list goes on. I love all those things. Well. No. Let’s be real. I do not love cleaning the toilets, but I do love having a clean toilet! Those are all good things, and roles and responsibilities I have.

“So is this.” The Lord whispers to my heart.

I’ve pushed aside writing for so long. I always just made excuses or thought it wasn’t as important or that maybe it just wasn’t the right time. And maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the Lord had to really show things to me in the wilderness.

However, as I was reading God’s word this week and praying, I was naming the fears I have. (And man, the list is long! Ugh.) And one of the fears that appeared in my workbook was writing.

Not being a good writer.

Not being able to encourage people.

Being fluffy or boring.

Just being noise- who needs another blogger?

To sound prideful or like I had it all together.

Or even worst, being completely vulnerable and raw and letting people truly know me- my weaknesses, sins, struggles, ugly parts.

My fear has stopped me from doing the very thing that God has called me to do. And yes, I think for a season I needed to take a break. I needed God to do His work in me so my writing could be an outpouring of Him, and not just words.

But now is the time. I need to surrender my fears, to let them go, and enjoy the “freefall”, as Rebekah Lyons says. Freefall into His arms. Into His grace.

I’m nervous writing even now. It’s scary- to put yourself out there. To risk failure. But it’s worth it. And more importantly it’s drawing me closer to my Savior. To the Mighty One. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I can fail, because God has me. He holds my right hand. He is simply pleased that I am walking in obedience to Him- shaky and all.

The word “brave” and “courage” have been dancing around in my head ever since I read Annie Down’s book “Let’s All Be Brave”. In the book, she encourages us to be brave- to step out and have faith. And everyone’s brave is different, and I’m finding that each day holds a new brave that I need to walk in. Some days my brave is simply getting out of bed. Other days it’s running errands with Kinsley. Daily tasks can seem so big sometimes. During this season, it’s writing, and preparing my heart to move across the ocean, and being a mom, and discipling four incredible college girls.

What’s your brave? What do you feel like God is stirring in your heart? What have you been fearful of? Made excuses for?

So here it goes. A new season. A season of bravery. (Hopefully.) A season of clinging to the Lord because the truth is, I am desperate for Him. I want to be used by Him. But more importantly, I want to follow Him each day—whatever that looks like. To follow so closely to my Rabbi, that I’m covered by the dust of His feet.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Be Brave

You Are Wanted

Rejection. Even as I type the word and say it in my head, I feel the sting. In fact, if I let myself, I could easily let that word grab hold of me, making me feel numb and helpless. Can I let you in on a secret? I think rejection is one of my greatest fears. After you’ve experienced it, even though I am healed and free, I can’t say I ever want to experience it again. The thought of having someone that is so close to me walk away, throw in the towel, or just not care anymore, breaks my heart. If I’m logical about it, I know that “IF THIS…THEN GOD.” I know that God will see me through; He’ll hold me in that pain and use it to draw me closer to Himself, and use it to make me complete (James 1:2-4). However, if I don’t tell myself the truth, this fear can easily take over.

We’ve all experienced rejection one way or another – maybe you didn’t get picked to be on the kickball team in elementary school (or were picked last…girl, I feel ya!), didn’t make the team, didn’t get into the school you wanted, or didn’t get the job you had your heart set on. And then there’s relational rejection, the worst kind –  never good enough for a parent, not included by friends, dumped, or not chosen.

Within all of us, we long to be wanted, don’t we? We want to be chosen and the affection of someone else’s desires. It’s a God-given desire. That’s right, God has given us this longing, and I believe it’s in order to bring us to Himself. The desire of His heart is to wrap us in His strong arms, look at us with tears in His eyes and proclaim, “Yes! I want you. I’ve always wanted you. Oh, how I’ve waited to be with you. You are the one I want. Always. Forever. I’ve never wavered in my desire to be with you, to have you as Mine.”

Let that sink in. God is after you. He wants you. Yes, you the perfectionist, the shy one, the one who struggles with anxiety, who is ashamed of your past, who has messed up too many times to count. You, who loses his temper, the doubter, the lover of things, the one who does things in secret that you would never tell anyone about, the one who has had things done to you that has left you feeling helpless, hopeless and undesirable. HE WANTS YOU. ALL OF YOU. He sees you as you are, everything – past, present and future, and wants you. And not only does He want you, but He has given everything up to have you. Desire shown in action love. He is calling your name. He is holding His arms open to you, eyes on you, heart beating for you.

Are you striving in your own strength, putting your hope in that something, rather than in Him? Are you heartbroken today because of someone’s rejection? Do you see your misplaced hope in someone? Let’s draw near to our Savior today and let Him fulfill that longing within us. You are wanted. You are included. You are desired. Not by just anyone, but by the One who gave up His only Son to win your heart. See what great lengths He has gone to show you how much He loves you.

Be Brave

A Journey With An Eating Disorder

guest blog.

I had an eating disorder for six years. Anorexia was the name of my game. I never threw up –  I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and it never got so bad that I had to be put in a rehab center, but it plagued me for years. You never would have known. I mean, you may have known if you were familiar with eating disorders, and if you spent any time with me during mealtimes. But I loved Jesus. I was a leader in the church and on my school campus. I prayed, I read God’s Word and I trusted Him. And yet when it came to my body, somehow, I had separated it from my soul…or so I thought. In reality, that separation was destructive to myself and to others. It wreaked havoc on my heart, my mind and my soul, and it broke others’ hearts around me.

It’s so easy to compare our bodies to other women’s bodies, especially those of celebrities and others on social media.

Why can’t I look like them?

Why can’t I lose the weight like she did? How does she do it?

It’s nothing new. Same struggle. Same lies being thrown at us. And we have to fight our thoughts. For me, that’s daily. I daily have to turn it over to the Lord. I daily have to tell myself the truth of who I am in Him, and remind myself that God’s truth prevails. Yeah, I do want to get rid of some of these pregnancy rolls, but the truth is that God loves me, that He gave me a body to live in – not to starve or diet to death. And now more than ever, I realize that how I view food and my body affects others.

The other day I was walking my dog and pushing my five-month-old in a stroller, and I caught myself starting to open that dark door again. I just want to lose some weight around my middle. And my thighs. And my butt. I’ll walk now. Then tomorrow I’ll do my workout videos. Maybe I should cut out sweets? Or just add some vegetables at dinner? Maybe no more eating out…

No!

“No, I won’t do this. I’m not going there. Lord, I need You.”

I stopped and cried out to God. No, I wasn’t going to go down that path. I wasn’t going to start planning my food for the rest of the day, or put myself through a strict plan, or give into the lies about areas of my body I don’t like and wish were different. That’s exactly what Satan wanted me to do, but I knew it was toxic. That wouldn’t lead to life, but rather to death.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about how he pleaded with God to remove a thorn in his flesh several times, but God didn’t do it. We don’t know what Paul’s thorn was. Paul calls it a “messenger of Satan to harass me.” Why in the world would God not remove it? Paul was crying out, pleading with God to remove something that was not of Him.

Eating, along with my body image, is one of my thorns in the flesh. That and anxiety. Super fun, right? This is my thing. Not to say that I don’t sin and struggle in other ways, because I totally do. But eating and my body image, and all that goes along with it, often seems to be a struggle for me. I’m not identified by my past eating disorder, but it is a big part of my story that still affects me. I may always struggle in this area, but God has brought healing and freedom in this area of my life, and I continue to grow in it daily.

I can agree with Paul that God says, 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

My awareness of how easily I could fall into this trap again makes me rely on His grace, and it makes me empathetic toward other women who struggle with the same thing. I won’t tell you to just get over it, because I know it’s not something you “just get over.” I get it. I’m right there with you. I’m clinging to God’s grace and power, and that’s all I have. But it’s sufficient.

He’s right there with me. He is the Victor. My hope is in Him.

Identity plays a huge part in our relationships. How you view yourself will flow into every relationship you have, especially a romantic one. Often guys wonder, Am I good enough? and girls wonder, Am I worthy? If those questions aren’t rooted in Jesus and what He says about you, then they can bring some heavy baggage into a relationship. They can cause you to feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, or devastate you when you mess up or fail. They can cause you to be manipulative or clingy, or perhaps even lead to an eating disorder. What questions do you ask yourself late into the night, and what answers are you feeding your soul? Lies? Or truth?

Alyssa is the author of Love That Lasts: How We Discovered God’s Better Way for Love, Dating, Marriage, and Sex with her husband Jeff. She is a mother to two little toddlers, Kinsley and Kannon. And she also enjoys writing and encouraging young women.

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