Quiet yet alert; she’s enveloped in the comfy armchair that conceals her tightly crossed arms and legs. She wishes she could disappear, the weight of words settling on her young shoulders. The very men who raise and teach; her father and friends, they eat and drink together at the party, joking and unfiltered about the attraction of women and the shapes of their bodies.
Each of the men has his say. These self-proclaimed “church-goers” and their opinions, well, the opinions have become cumbersome. Capable to distance and shrink all who listen, if only she could become small enough to just melt away, she would. The message won’t be forgotten anytime soon, regardless of whether those men understood it was even being sent.
That beautiful, fragile, 16-year-old girl sneaks away to her room. Dressing for bed, she catches sight of herself in the mirror. With a disheartened gaze, she begins her inspection with her pink, painted toes, eye-gaze moving slowly up her frame. "Thin, yet strong. Tomboy-ish. Wrong. If beautiful women are curvy and that’s what men want…well, I’m this. What man will ever want this?”
Tears well and her form takes on blurry lines. Wiping the wetness from her cheek, resolve washes over her and the defenses take their stronghold. "Nobody will make me feel like that again,” she promises herself. “I don’t care what they think. Nobody will get close to me like that.”
And so the cycle begins…
Brave One. Yes, you. I know that you’re brave because you’ve chosen to pick up this book, the one about the hard things. Know that you won’t walk alone on the journey. Together, this book will challenge what we think about ourselves. This book, with a gentle nudge, will request that we speak out loud the secret thoughts that are off limits; the same ones that we believe we can keep from even God, smiles painted across beautiful, stoic faces.
We read stories like hers, the young one, and we want to scream, “DON’T YOU KNOW?” "Don’t you know that words can break us into a million tiny pieces? Don’t you know that we’re at risk for limping through our lives with an unmerciful sense of 'not enough?' Don’t you know that we hear?" Everything.
Words are a big deal. Words give life, or words become the cancer that eats away our confidence, and the belief that we’re called to the exceptional. It’s the same cancer that results in years of “getting by," rather than helping us to author the fantastic and gutsy stories we’re destined to pen. It steals the vision from the work that only we can accomplish, because Loved One, you and I were made for this.
Let's get a little fed up. Let's awaken to the truth about the pressures we face. I hope we’ll say, “We will not take a single step more until we’ve stood face-to-face with the lies that have held our heads below the surface of the water.” The lies that have stolen the sunshine from our faces and the truth from our understanding, I pray we’ll see them clearly and that we’ll give them names. We have power over things that have names. I hope you’re fed up, because I’m fed up too.
As a counselor and friend, I’ve heard the cries of your heart. I’ve witnessed the despair in the voices of women bound and gagged by disappointment, pain, and confusion. I invite you to join me as we bend our knees in prayer to the Liberator who is about to set us free.
God is calling us to His (oftentimes) overwhelming, (occasionally) hard to believe, but (always) gorgeous promises for our lives. His love and His acceptance is available to us, though we oftentimes get “stuck” in our inability to receive it. I pray an unburdened, unchained, and God-strengthened cadence to set the pace for our walk into complete healing.
I promise, I can’t tell you what to do. I don't have all the answers, but
the God who adores His creation - Who adores us, the meticulously formed - has already given His son, for the honor of intimately guiding us through this life.
I’d love to ask you some questions. And I promise you, I’ll take your hand when they seem tough and we become road-weary. I'll challenge us to be honest; with ourselves, and also, with the friends we invite to join us on this brave journey.