“Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.” – Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge
Wow. I just finished reading this powerful book. This is not a “do these 10 things and you’ll be a Proverbs 31 woman” book. The subtitle really sums it up: “Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul”. Sounds pretty, doesn’t it? Boy, I’d like to think that I’m “mysterious”, because most days I just feel “messed up”. John and Stasi nailed it. I am too much and too little all rolled into one.
Beth Moore said something at her 2009 Living Proof Live conference that has always stuck with me: “Repression will make you sick, rebellion will make you stupid. We gotta be real.”
The Apostle James says it this way: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)
Sharing our hurts is healing and I believe that positive life change only happens with other people. Keeping it to ourselves only makes it worse, or in 12 Step language, “we’re as sick as our secrets”. I spent most of 2013 in a Celebrate Recovery 12 Step Study and I learned that genuine confession leads to genuine change. Telling our story is freeing, on so many levels.
Think of it this way. If we keep it between us and God, there is no accountability. We might say, “Hey, He forgives me, we’ll just keep this between us. No need to get anyone else involved. It’s a private matter.” Just one problem with that. No change happens. We keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, the very definition of “insanity”. But when the pain of changing finally feels less than the pain of staying the same, it’s time to change.
So, here I am with you, my trusted friends, confessing my sin to you. I am a mess. I am too much; I am too little. I am up; I am down. I am happy; I am sad. I am carefree; I am frustrated. I am optimistic; I am pessimistic. I am kind; I am harsh. I am manic; I am depressive. I am intelligent; I am hopelessly stupid. I am encouraging; I am discouraged. I am on top of the world; I am in the lowest pit. I am an eagle soaring high above the clouds; I am Eeyore beneath the rain cloud. I am free to dream the grandest of dreams; I am tied up in knots. I am a woman of faith; I am a woman of fear. I am filled with the love of Jesus; I am bound by the lies of the evil one. I have it all together; I am completely overwhelmed.
So much of it comes down to expectations. Am I expecting too much? Am I expecting too little? Do I expect everything to fall apart? Do I expect that I will be left “abandoned and alone”? Or do I expect that God will come through? Do I expect that He will take care of me? Do I expect that He will never leave me, never forsake me, and that He has amazing people waiting to help me at just the right moment? If I give in to despair, if I give up, will I miss out on seeing God come through for me? Yep, I will. I’ll miss out. And something will be missing in the world that could have been there if I hadn’t given up.
Toward the end of Captivating, in a chapter called “An Irreplaceable Role”, John and Stasi remind us that we were each made with a unique purpose in mind. No one else can live the life that we alone were created to live. You are the only person on earth who can fulfill your purpose. I love this beautiful reminder of who we truly are:
“You are a woman. An image bearer of God. The Crown of Creation. You were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved. You are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiancé, Jesus. You are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power. And you are needed.”
Oh, there’s so much more. Read the book (check your library). We are needed. We all have something to contribute. Expectations can kill us, but hope frees us. Hope of today, hope of tomorrow and hope of eternity. Hope lives with Jesus. And when we live with Jesus, we get to experience that hope. And if we don’t feel it, we need to ask him to help us feel it. But don’t wait on feelings. They’re so fleeting. One minute everything is amazing and the next minute everything has gone wrong. But God is still working. And He still loves us immeasurably. And He’s fighting for us, as a groom fights for his bride. I wrote about that in December when I started reading Captivating. Check out The Beautiful Adventure if you’d like to read more.
I heard MercyMe’s “Won’t You Be My Love?” this morning and it stirred something in me that made me want to write for the first time in a month. I hope it stirs something in you too. And if you love it, the whole album is only $9.99 on iTunes.
“My friends are broke and lost
Looking for someone to lead them to my cross
I need your help, I need your help
Won’t you be My voice calling
Won’t you be My hands healing
Won’t you be My feet walking into a broken world
Won’t you be My chain-breaker
Won’t you be My peacemaker
Won’t you be My hope and joy
Won’t you be My Love”
We may be broke and lost, but even in our brokenness, we have something to give. We are needed. Our prayers are needed. They are powerful and effective. Our lives are powerful and effective. God is powerful and effective and He wants His power to flow through us out into this broken world. Our expectations may be unrealistic. Let’s place all of those expectations on Him. He can handle it. His shoulders are big enough. And, in that freedom, let’s go out and live the lives that we were created to live.