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Finding Your Purpose

Finding Your Purpose

Before I found freedom through forgiveness, I was often consumed with the heartache of what was happening at home. Our family issues seemed to get worse every year instead of better. We lived from one crisis to another. One night, while I was at home writing a paper and trying to study, I was overwhelmed with sadness from all the issues that kept piling up. I fell on my knees and pleaded with the Lord to fix my family and to make everything normal in my home. I was so sick of the fighting and the turbulence.

I was tired of the family dinner nights that turned into verbal boxing matches. I hated how sad my parents were all the time, which affected the atmosphere of our house. I was the only child still living at home at this time, yet it felt as if everyone’s problems still lived with us. My parents were so preoccupied with my brothers that I didn’t want to upset them or bother them with anything else, because it wouldn’t have ended well for me. I had no one to talk to and felt very alone in my house.

I mentioned in the first chapter that the word special was spoken over my life as a newborn, but that word felt like a mockery to me. It seemed that this word would follow me all the days of my life repeating itself over and over, yet I could not accept the word as applicable to me. I was not special. I was unplanned. My family was far from special, so why on earth would people say that I was special? It was as if I had some sort of muffler on my ears that blocked me from receiving the word. The Enemy had distorted my understanding of who I was. The Lord was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t listening—until the night I cried out to God and asked Him: “Why was I born? Why put me in this situation when I wasn’t even wanted?”

I blamed God for everything I was going through. Even though I was a Christian—and studying to be a minister— deep down, I felt hopeless and did not want to live anymore. I lay on the floor and wept bitterly, wondering if I would ever amount to anything in my life. I had made so many mistakes, I had no idea who I was and why I was here; I felt aimless. I was studying to become a minister, but I felt like a fraud. I was trying to do all the right things because I thought maybe if I earned the title of pastor and had a title on my door, then I would finally feel as though I had a purpose and people would affirm and respect me. Maybe if I could help someone else’s problems, then doing so would diminish my own.

At that moment of desperation, I knew I needed an answer from God. The Bible says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I began seeking God because He was my only option. I opened the Bible and read this passage of Scripture as tears rolled down my cheeks.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13–16)

The Enemy had pierced my heart every time he repeated the lie that I was not wanted: Why are you here? You are just a nuisance. You’re stupid. These words shaped how I viewed myself for the next two decades. Yet while reading Psalm 139, a warmth that felt like healing oil moved through my body. I felt as if I was being held in the arms of my Creator, who was whispering the truth into my ear. Every word of Scripture was destroying every lie that was ever spoken over my heart and mind. I was being set free by God’s Word.

In that moment, I realized that God used my parents to get me here, but God my Father had always planned for me to be here. He knew me. He saw me. He knit every fiber of who I am in the secret place where no one else could see. He was writing my future in His book before I took my first breath. He chose me to be His and to leave a mark on this earth—the kind of mark that no one can make but me. It was as if the scales had fallen from my eyes, and I could see clearly for the first time.

I wept for hours that night, leaving behind every evil word that was meant to poison me. The Enemy had a plan to kill, steal, and destroy me (John 10:10)—but I discovered the secret to who I truly was. I was a daughter who belonged to my Father God. It was time to allow Him to go to the deepest recesses of my heart and heal every wound and every word. He needed to replace Satan’s lies with His truth. I read Psalm 139 over and over again until it became my truth. These living words were sharper and more effective than any surgery (Hebrews 4:12), and they cut out the cancer of self-hate.

I felt different. I felt clean, and for the first time I felt special. I felt special because even though I was a surprise to my parents, God had me in mind before the foundations of the earth. So now I had a reason to live: to discover my purpose according to Psalm 139:16, which says God had all of my days ordained to mean something. Specifically, it says, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book”—so I had to study the book He gave me, which is His Word. To walk in true freedom, I had to renew my mind. I had to transform the old patterns of thinking with new patterns of thinking, and the only way I could do that was by meditating on scriptures that declared the opposite of what had been spoken over my life for years. I had to replace every lie with God’s truth until it became my normal pattern of thinking.

The Bible is clear when it says: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Instead of conforming to what feels most natural or familiar according to our feeling and emotions, we need to renew our minds daily in the Word of God and God’s way of thinking. This can only happen as we spend time reading and meditating on His Word, pondering over and over what it means and how it applies to our lives. This will change the way we view ourselves and others, and it will also change how we behave.

There is a reason why people hurt others. It is because they are hurt and broken on the inside. Once I received healing by forgiving my mother, I could see her through a different lens. The lens I now looked through was one of love and forgiveness, which helped me comprehend how my mother had been a victim of abuse and negativity from her own mother. I understood that her actions toward me were not against me personally. It was a generational pattern that had not been broken, and I had to decide to put a stop to the cycle of control, manipulation, anger, fear, emotional breakdown, and gossip.

I am weary of seeing men and women who are bound up by their circumstances, refusing to let go of their pride and hurt in order to find freedom. You can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). The Holy Spirit is at work in your life. You just have to choose whether to obey His will or yours. It’s that simple.

Alex Seeley is a passionate communicator and teacher of the Word. Through her boldness and tenacity, Alex shares openly about how the power of God has proven real in her own life. She loves to see people’s lives transformed by the power of Holy Spirit.

Alongside her husband, Henry, she co-leads and pastors The Belonging Co, a thriving church that has quickly become known as a place for people to find freedom and experience Jesus in an authentic way that affects every area of their life. She continues to travel and write books equipping the body of Christ everywhere.

Alex and Henry call Nashville home where they live with their two children, Holly and Taylor.

Seeing Ourselves As God Sees Us

Seeing Ourselves As God Sees Us

For many years, I struggled to believe that God had made me beautiful. As I got older, I became increasingly uncomfortable with my changing body. I was an Italian girl growing up in Australia, where most of the girls were blonde and blue-eyed. For some reason, those features were prettier to me. I had thick, curly black hair that, when I let it out, made me look like a wild woman with unruly hair. Combing out those tangles was a nightmare. I used to stare at the mirror and tell myself how ugly I was and pull my hair out from the roots to punish myself.

I remember wishing someone would break my nose, so I would have an excuse to have a rhinoplasty. I was already feeling awkward in my preteen body, but to add insult to injury, my mum would often say, “Be careful not to eat too much; it will make you large and unattractive.” Wow! Just like that, Satan’s lie began to stain my mind. I vowed to never let myself get big, because I was convinced I would be unacceptable and unlovable if I did.

I believed Satan’s lie. He said if I could make the outside of my body perfect, then I would be acceptable to those around me. Preoccupied with how perfect my body needed to be, I became obsessed with what I ate and how I could reverse what I had just eaten. For years, I struggled with my body image. There were times I would be in conversation with people and look as if I were listening, when in fact, I was mentally calculating calories and planning a new strategy of starvation. The thinner I was, the more affirmation I received from those around me. I became addicted to the verbal affirmation about my outward appearance, which fueled the eating disorder that dictated my life. I was so starved for affirmation and validation that I starved my physical body to obtain what I thought would bring me joy. But it was exhausting and never brought me the security I was longing for.

Why do we try to reach an unattainable goal of outward perfection? Because somewhere along the way, we have bought into Satan’s lie that our bodies are flawed and that in order to be loved, we need to make our bodies look perfect. Plastic surgeons are laughing all the way to the bank because of this very lie. Many people are unhappy with their exterior and truly believe if they can look a certain way, then they will be fulfilled.

During those years I certainly was not happy with the way I looked. I had a long list of issues with how God made me. I thought my design was flawed and wondered why God made me unattractive and other girls beautiful. I was so focused on the exterior that I missed the fact that God had tailor-made me from the inside out—and that what He made was very good because He doesn’t make mistakes.

God designed me to be unique from the other girls, not to conform to the one- size-fits-all ideal that Satan tries to deceive us into thinking we must achieve. However, all I cared about was what I was supposed to look like according to what the girls in my classroom and the magazines said I should look like. It made perfect sense in my mind that if I somehow achieved physical beauty on the outside, then my life would automatically be beautiful on the inside and all my problems would dissolve.

What I didn’t realize while growing up was that I was broken and bruised on the inside—which was why I felt so ugly on the outside. Until I came to the realization that God needed to come into my heart and fix what was broken, I was continually chasing a false reality of outward perfection.

So, for years I struggled with rejection and body image issues. I rationalized and justified my behavior, unwilling to admit what was really going on. I hid behind lies and excuses for my eating disorder because I was afraid that if I shared the truth with anyone, they would reject and judge me. I couldn’t bear the possibility of being rejected again. I lived in constant turmoil. I tried in my own way to be free, but I couldn’t seem to gain freedom in the areas of body image and acceptance. I would stare at myself in the mirror, spewing words over myself: “You’re disgusting.” “You’re fat.” “How can anyone even stand to look at you?” On and on went the verbal abuse.

My heart was so wounded by the words that had been spoken over me as a child that I continually reinforced every word about how ugly I was. I put on a fantastic façade, one that could have earned me an Oscar. I convinced everyone around me that I was free when I really wasn’t.

It took me surrendering my whole heart to Jesus and allowing Him to come in and heal the most vulnerable places. Once I allowed Jesus to reveal the core wound and allow Him to heal it, I received healing in a place in my heart that I had not allowed anyone to visit. I realized if a God who is so big and powerful

took the time to be so detailed in creating me, then I have no excuse to be anything but glorious for Him—for I was fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. I discovered that I was good enough as me. It was as if I became a new person, but I was actually just discovering myself—finally. I had thrown out all the junk that had piled on top of who I was born to be. The clutter had been in the way, burying who I was.

Piece by piece, Jesus removed the debris I had accumulated over the years. Every lie I believed about myself was lifted, and I discovered a pot of gold that had always been living inside of me buried deep down. I discovered that I was valuable. I discovered that I was creative and intelligent. I discovered that people loved being around me. I discovered that I had a unique sense of style. I finally saw that Alex was a good person. Everything started to change. I wore what I wanted. I ate what I wanted. I did what I liked for the first time in years, and I didn’t care what anyone thought.

I began to allow God’s voice to become the loudest voice in my heart. After many layers of healing, I had to go through the grieving process of all those years that felt wasted because of my insecurities. When I look back at photos of myself during that season, it’s astounding to see the difference between then and now. I look older and so very sad in those old pictures. I now love who I am and know that I was born to leave a mark that no one else but me can leave.

I can’t believe I used to feel so ugly; I can’t believe I allowed those feelings to skew my ability to trust deeply because I was afraid that those who came close could potentially hurt me. Then I began to see myself how God sees me. I allowed God to heal my heart. By yielding to Him, I entered the process of being transformed into a beautiful daughter who found her security and identity in belonging to my heavenly Father, which has helped me rise above all insecurity and fear.

This post was taken from our LO sister workshop: “The Powerful Workshop”! To learn more from Alex, Shelley Giglio, Bianca Olthoff, and more (all include video teaching from each contributor!), click HERE and join our community today!

Alex is a passionate communicator and teacher of the Word. Possessing a unique ability to reveal how the Word of God is applicable to our everyday lives, Alex shares openly about how the power of God has proven real in her own life. Known for her boldness and tenacity, you’ll love the way Jesus shines through her. Born and raised in Australia, Alex served as an Executive Pastor at a church in Melbourne for nearly 20 years.

Having relocated with her family to Nashville in 2012, Alex and her husband Henry, began to open their home on Tuesday nights. Their heart was for people to worship, encounter God and build genuine community in a city where people’s personal and spiritual lives often succumb to the transient nature of ‘life on the road’. By February 2014, their basement was filled to capacity and as a result The Belonging Co. church was born. The vision of the Belonging Co. is for people to experience Jesus in an authentic way that affects every area of their life. Encounter over entertainment, intimacy over industry and presence over presentation continues to be the mandate for the church.

As Senior Pastors of the Belonging Co., Alex and Henry call Nashville home where they live with their two children, Holly and Taylor.

Finding Strength in God’s Grace

Finding Strength in God’s Grace

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Have you ever experienced such intense grief that you didn’t think you were ever going to experience the joy you once had, in the same way again? Has there ever been a time in your life where you were so depleted of strength that it causes you to not want to get out of bed? Or, have you ever been in a place, after you have given so much of yourself, that now you are left feeling weary and faint and you want to give up?

I have been through all of the above and I know most of you have too. We all go through seasons of feeling overwhelmed. Life can be harsh and cruel at times. I have come to realize that being a Christian doesn’t make your life suddenly perfect. Jesus never promised a life without difficulty, or that while we were here on earth that we would just tip toe through the tulips until eternity. Life throws us curve balls and sometimes these difficulties nearly take us out, but even though we will face adversity and hardships that deplete our strength and drive us to want to give up, we have a God who never runs out of strength, and who never leaves us or forsakes us.

I remember when I was 29 years of age, and my cousin who was also my age and my very best friend overdosed and died suddenly. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? I had prayed for her life for decades…and I was believing with my whole heart that she would get well, and she was seemingly on the road to recovery. This was not supposed to happen. I will never forget the day I found out. I was on tour with my husband leading worship, and receiving that phone call shattered my heart into a million pieces.

There I was on the other end of the phone, hearing words that were too difficult to process. I dropped the phone and began to weep uncontrollably as I fell into my husband’s embrace. I wept for hours and could not stop. It felt like I had cried out every tear I had in my body.

As we continued to drive to the venue in which we were about to lead a worship night, for the church that were eagerly anticipating to encounter God, I couldn’t think of anything further from worship that I felt like doing in that moment.

All I wanted to do is curl up in a ball and fall asleep, hoping that when I awake from this nightmare, it would have all been a dream. I sat in the corner of the church as we arrived—not wanting to talk to anyone, as I was so heartbroken and so exhausted from the physical pain of crying so hard. I felt so weak I could hardly stand up.

My leader reached out to me and said that I can totally sit this one out, considering the circumstances, and I was relieved. How was I going to be able to do anything with this grief that felt like a thousand bricks piled up on my chest? I couldn’t breathe and I felt so overwhelmed with grief. I made plans to leave on the next flight out to be home with my family, but there were no flights until the morning.

I remember sitting in the church staring into nothing and crying out in my heart to God, “What am I supposed to do now?” I remember sensing in my heart these words, “Alex, I need you to sing tonight”. “Sing!” I thought to myself, I can’t even stand up, let alone sing, but I kept sensing in my heart that this was what God wanted me to do to help me overcome. I remembered this scripture as I sat there contemplating how I would do this:

Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I sensed God saying, “When you are weak, and you let my grace move through you, then you will be strong.” It made no sense to me in the natural, but I knew God enough to know that if a thought popped into my head that did not come from me, because it was the last thing I felt like doing, then it must be God…and I should obey him.

I will never forget this night for as long as I live, because as soon as I got up to worship and began to sing, the heaviness that was covering me like a blanket, lifted off of me. I worshipped through my tears but I chose to sing anyway. It was like incense to the Lord. It was my sacrifice of praise unto the Lord, and as I sang I felt his presence begin to carry me and give me the strength that I needed to face this season of grief.

I can’t explain it, but the atmosphere in the room that night impacted the entire church. I had people come up to me afterwards weeping and saying that they also sensed Gods strength in the room. It’s not that I wasn’t sad, because I was. But his strength carried me supernaturally and I overcame my feeling of weakness in that moment.

That night taught me that his grace does have the power to carry us and give us the strength that we need when we are naturally depleted of it. The following week was the hardest week of my life, and yet I felt the strength of God propel me to lead and overcome the grief that I never thought I could. I learned to sing and worship the creator—regardless of my circumstances, and allow him to pour his grace into my situation and my heart, as I choose to lean on him as I walk through hardships and difficulties.

That was sixteen years ago, and the same principal applies today. I have understood that life will not be perfect, but the one who has the power to carry us through the most difficult situations will enable us to overcome hardships.

His power is made perfect in our weakness, therefore we can trust that His grace is sufficient in every area of our life when we don’t feel so strong and resilient, because He is.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19

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