If You Feel Like You Weren't Meant to Be Brave

 
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.
— C.S. Lewis

We all want to be brave- to live a life so big and courageous that it inspires others to live beyond themselves for something greater. I can't tell you how many "Brave" themed Conferences I've attended, 5, 10, 15 Step Guides I've worked through, and books I've read cover to cover just trying to grasp a piece of the Brave pie for myself. But I usually finish feeling more frustrated, depressed and, well, exhausted than before. Am I the only one? I mean these women in the bible were CRAZY BRAVE! I don't know about you, but some of these chicks used to really intimidate me; women like ESTHER- storming the king's palace to save her nation, RUTH- leaving everything she knew behind her, MARY- giving birth to the Savior of the world, and let's please not forget JAEL (I mean did she have to kill that man with a tent peg?) They all did incredible things for the Kingdom of God but what we fail to realize is that we were created the same way.

We want so badly to be brave and to live a courageous life but we don't know how to get there. After all, the way this world paints a picture of bravery sets the bar so high that we know we'll never achieve anything quite like that. But what if the definition was different than what we thought? What if bravery wasn't something to be grasped, but realized? 

This world will try to tell you what being brave looks like, which usually leads us to frustration and exhaustion, never able to reach that goal that we so desperately want. But the truth is, you are God's courageous and brave daughter who the enemy is trying very hard to keep in the dark. The enemy doesn't want you struttin' your stuff around in confidence and courage! He wants you stumbling around, trying to find your way and forever striving for something you already have. Those things you struggle with? Those are NOT who you are. Your insecurity- that's NOT who you are. Your fear- that's NOT who you are. Your sin that you can't seem to break- that's NOT who you are.


When we begin to see ourselves not as victims trying to grasp victory, but rather as God's Royal daughters who have been equipped for every good work, then we won't own our struggles but will find the strength that lies within to live out the brave and courageous destinies that were ours alone to fulfill. 


You don't attack something you aren't threatened by, and the enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to convince you that there really isn't anything special about you, certainly not anything powerful or brave. But... when you do look inside to see all of the glorious greatness that resides within you, you will begin to walk in a bravery and courage that this world has yet to see.

Basically my entire life I've struggled with feelings of fear and insecurity. A part of me thought that once I got married and said "I do," then poof.. all of my insecurity would disappear into the great abyss of true love. Well, that didn't really happen.. at all. In fact it got worse! You see when you face your fears, you become fearless. So the enemy doesn't want you to face those emotions, he wants you to suppress them, attach yourself to them, and ultimately, find your identity in them. And that's exactly what I did. It's extremely hard to gain freedom from something when you see it as your identity. After all, you can't exactly break free from yourself now can you? 

But everything changed for me when I had a mini breakdown moment on a drive home passing by Garden of the God's park in Colorado Springs (I know, I'm blessed!) I was frustrated because I felt like I was doing so good with this whole insecurity thing and then WHAM! I would get insecure about something small and all those old emotions would rush back and I felt like all my progress was for nothing. Was this it? I mean was this the life that I'm supposed to look forward to? I couldn't understand why things weren't changing. But then God spoke this to me: 

"You are not an insecure little girl who is just trying to act brave, but rather you are my brave and courageous daughter who the enemy is trying to trick into acting insecure." 

Amazing. In that moment, I completely understood what He meant. This whole time I hadn't been viewing my actions as mistakes, I was viewing myself as a mistake. My insecurity became my identity, which in turn made any kind of forward progress impossible. 

It was as if I was standing at the bottom of this hill looking up. At the top of the hill was everything God had promised me, who He created me to be and the destiny I was supposed to fulfill. Then I would spend all of my time trying to climb up this hill trying to get to what God said about me, while life was throwing sucker punches and dirt balls my way, trying to knock me down and get me off course. But this was so very wrong. 

Instead, God was beginning to show me that I was already at the top of that hill with Him, looking down on life and all of it's murky circumstances. I was already brave, courageous, humble, patient, kind, driven, full of destiny, etc.. This was who I am. I could stand at the top of that hill and defend what was mine rather than striving for it. And those life punches? Well with one kick of my heal they would tumble down to the bottom of that hill where they belonged. This was what my Father was showing me, and I believe that He's wanting to show it to you too. 


You are not an insecure woman who is just trying to act brave, but rather you are a BRAVE and COURAGEOUS daughter of God who the enemy is trying to trick into ACTING insecure.


When you realize all of the power that resides on the inside of you, you will begin to see your challenges and struggles in a new way - not as a victim who is just trying to grasp victory.. maybe.. someday.. in the future. But, you will see yourself as His Royal Daughter, Poised for Purpose, Fashioned for Splendor, and Designed for Destiny. 

Together, let's write these chapters of our stories with bravery, 
Jess


Want to learn more about how you were created to be brave?

Check out the Becoming Brave Online Bible Study and learn to awaken the unique ways you were designed to bring courage to this world. 

That Time I Cried in the Dressing Room

That Time I Cried in the Dressing Room // Body Image // Christian Girl Resources // Christian Girl Advice // Confidence // Love Your Body // Self-Esteem
 

I was standing in front of the mirror, staring at what I thought was a disappointment to all mankind.

All of a sudden, everything wrong with my body was suddenly so much worse than I ever thought it had been and I wondered how I could have let something like this happen to me.

The pair of jeans I had grabbed were not going on, regardless of how much I jumped up and pulled, and the tops I had picked out were much tighter than I remember them. I had gone up two sizes and they were still too small! What the heck was going on here?

I must admit, this was not the first time I had been insecure in front of the mirror. But this time, it took on a whole new ugly face and I had myself a full on diva-sized meltdown in the dressing room that day. My mom embarrassingly pleaded with me to pull it together until we left the store. I think the staff started to witness my pity party but honestly, I never noticed anyone else. That’s the thing about insecurity—it’s always 100% focused on you at the expense of everyone else around you.

I started thinking to myself, “Maybe I’m just not meant to shop at Abercrombie…” After all, have you seen the models on the wall? I may not have expected the clothes to be that unyielding, but I knew I didn’t look like them.


For most of my life I have struggled with my body image.


I did gymnastics since I was three-years-old and I have what they call a classic “gymnast’s body.” I know I know… it sounds great. But it’s not what you think. All that means is no boobs and a very noticeable butt. I don’t’ know what girl would willing choose this body type...

No matter how skinny you get, that round tush is never fitting into a size 00—which is what I wore in middle school. Somehow, around my freshman year of high school, it’s as if everything made a giant steer to the rear and I’ve been crying in dressing rooms ever since.

Now to be fair, it’s really not that bad. But that day, in that dressing room, with those clothes… it might as well have been the end of the world!!!

Why do we do this to ourselves? We could be having the greatest time with the people we love and then catch a glance of ourselves in the mirror and all of a sudden we can’t stop thinking about how frizzy our hair is, or that blemish popping front and center, or how much closer our thighs come together than hers’ do.

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?
— Genesis 3:9-11 ESV

Shame was never a part of God’s original plan or intent for us.

The bible says our own hearts condemn us and I must say, they do a pretty good job. But this was never the heart of our Creator towards mankind and especially, not his daughters.

We all know that Eve has had a pretty rough reputation over the centuries for eating that dang apple, but let’s not forget that she was also the finishing touch on God’s plan. She was the crescendo of time, the crown of all His creation. Life on this earth was not complete yet or “good” until she came on the scene. She was needed, not just for her body, but for who she was. And the same is true for you and me.

You may not feel like you have a lot to offer this world, or a man for that matter. But you are more than the reflection glaring back at you. You are a royal daughter of the most high God and you have been intentionally created, specifically designed, and brilliantly purposed for this day and this time on the earth. You are not a mistake, an after-thought or a lump of flesh and bones. You are brilliant, you are fierce, and most importantly, you are dangerous.

If the enemy of our souls can keep us preoccupied with the tiniest of superficial imperfections, then we will miss out on who we are and the power that we possess. When the enemy sees you, he sees Jesus and he is terrified. But if he knows you don’t see that, then maybe he can keep you in the dark.

It’s time for us to stop measuring ourselves based on the size of our jeans or the models on the wall. I do believe we should do our best to live fit and healthy lives, but the moment we start to compare ourselves with someone completely different from us, we relinquish all power that is uniquely ours to offer.

Oh, and what was the cause for me outgrowing the entire store? Well, as it turns out I was in Abercrombie KIDS!!! Can you believe that? Why would they even make those? The adult Abercrombie was directly under this one on the lower level. I felt pretty ridiculous after finding that out. I assure you that was not the first time the dressing room and I have had a confrontation and it wasn’t the last by any means (I assure you it was the last time I tried to wear children’s clothing).

But feeling insecure about your body does not mean you’ve failed. How you decide to walk forward from those feelings is what will determine the strength of your life and the influence of your story.

Look in the mirror today and everyday and say to yourself:

I am a beautiful daughter of God on the inside and the outside.
I was created on purpose and for a purpose which I will fulfill.
I am brave, fierce and dangerous to the kingdom of darkness.
I will not be sidetracked by insecurity, but I will choose to walk in freedom this day and every day
and I will bring other women in my life to freedom with me.

Let’s walk with a different purpose than the world. For we have a heavenly mandate on this earth to represent a new and better way to live. Choose today what you will believe and what you will not. Set your heart on His design for you and allow Him to write the pages of your story well.  

Cheering you on in this life!

sign_off_01psd.png
 
 

How to Battle Insecurity

The insecurity bug gets us all every now and then. But calling it a bug is quite misleading, for it’s more like a leech: the longer it’s left attached to you, the more life it will suck out of your veins. Pretty picture, right? If we’re waiting for this world (or anyone in it) to give us our security, then we’ll be waiting around for it forever. So how can we walk in the confidence and security that we long for so desperately?

“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.”
Philippians 4:8

The insecurity bug gets us all every now and then. But calling it a bug is quite misleading, for it’s more like a leech: the longer it’s left attached to you, the more life it will suck out of your veins. Pretty picture, right?

All we have to do to get insecure these days is open our eyes and look around. There’s plenty for our wandering hearts to get insecure about because we live in such an uncertain world full of uncertain people with uncertain motives and agendas. If we’re waiting for this world (or anyone in it) to give us our security, then we’ll be waiting around for it forever. So how can we walk in the confidence and security that we long for so desperately?

We do battle with insecurity when we replace every lie with the truth.

I’ve heard it this way before: You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from making a nest in your hair. We can’t always stop a negative or insecure thought from popping into your mind. And if you consider that a failure then you’ll walk in constant defeat and keep yourself in bondage to it. But we do have control over our thoughts once it comes.

We have to decide if we’re going to receive this thought as our truth or cast it out and replace it with the word. I would say I’ve always been pretty good at knowing when a lie has weaseled its way into my thoughts. But I would simply acknowledge that it was a lie and then move on. I didn’t realize that if I didn’t take the thought captive, cast it out and replace it with truth, that lie had legal right to stick around and filter everything else I saw and heard through its murky lens.

So how can we detect the lies? After all, they’re not always so easy to identify. It says in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is alive and powerful. It’s sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, and exposing our innermost thoughts and desires. When we spend time in God’s word, it comes alive in our hearts and separates the lies from the truth. The light always exposes the darkness.

When a lie comes against your mind, expose it with the word of God and replace it with His truth.

“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.”
Philippians 4:8

If you’re unsure of God’s love for you…

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
— Romans 8:38

If you’re uncomfortable with your body image…

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
— Psalms 139:13

If you’re afraid you’ll end up alone…

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.
— Deuteronomy 31:6

If you’re uncertain about your future…

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
— Jeremiah 29:11

Write down the lies that plague your mind and then write out the truth from God’s word to counter those lies. That way, whenever they try to come knocking on your door, you can answer back with confidence, wielding the sword that’s been entrusted to you by your heavenly Father. 

So don't let those insecure thoughts get you down. Rise up, cut them down, and speak the truth. Then throw your shoulders back and walk like you own the place because, well.. you do! 

xxo,
Jess

Moving Past Your Past

Every one of us has a past that tries to creep it's way into our present, whispering it's promise to always be there in our future. While it's sometimes hard, or seemingly impossible, to silence the thoughts and fears that arise, it is vital to walking in freedom and fulfilling the unique call of God on your life. We must all find a way to live above the lies, hurts, and wounds that trip us up from time to time. One way we do this is by speaking the truth in the midst of hurtful and victimizing emotions. 

As long as your meditating on how wrong the lie is, your mind is still focused on that lie. Your life will follow your focus and if the enemy can just keep you thinking about the lies- even if it's in a negative way- he will keep you on the path to self-defeat. It's only when we begin to replace the lies with truth that we begin to walk in freedom. 

Today's culture will tell you that you are the victim and that you deserve to stay that way. While that was true, Jesus paid a very high price so that you were no longer bound to the flesh and it's desire to play the victim. Victims are absolved of all responsibility and are owed everything from everyone. Living this way will keep you stuck in a prison cell of your own making and the one who has the key is you. We have to choose which we want more in this life: to remain a victim or become a victor. There is no middle ground. 

The lies in your head and the emotions you feel because of them are frauds of the truth. They aren't connected to truth because they are not connected to your identity or who you truly are. If God doesn't grade you based on your performance, then neither should you! Your past is right where it should be, in the past. Cling to truth and you will begin to walk beyond it into all of the glorious plans that God has in store for those who are brave enough to trust his word...


25 Verses for Moving On

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP)

I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.] -Galatians 2:20-21 (AMP) 

Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:18-19 (AMP) 

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. -Galatians 5:17-18 (AMP) 

But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:62 (AMP) 

But My righteous one [the one justified by faith] shall live by faith [respecting man’s relationship to God and trusting Him]; and if he draws back [shrinking in fear], My soul has no delight in him. But our way is not that of those who shrink back to destruction, but [we are] of those who believe [relying on God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by this confident faith preserve the soul. -Hebrews 10:38-39 (AMP)

But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt. -Genesis 19:26 (AMP) 

The righteous keep moving forward... -Job 17:9 (NLT) 

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. -Romans 8:28 (AMP) 

Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. -Romans 8:1 (AMP) 

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. -Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you. -Psalm 32:8 (AMP) 

And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? -Matthew 6:27 (AMP) 

The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm. -Exodus 14:14 (AMP) 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! -1 Corinthians 9:24 (AMP)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. -Psalm 51:10 (AMP) 

I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error]. In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing. -2 Timothy 4:7-8 (AMP) 

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. -Philippians 4:8 (AMP) 

 
 

Dealing with Self-Doubt

There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy (God). He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The battle against self-doubt is something that every human comes up against at some point in our lives. We all deal with negative thoughts and emotions about ourselves and if most of us were honest, we're much harder on ourselves than anyone else would dare to be. But the reality of living outside of this dismal cycle seems a luxury that others may seem to have but never us. Why is it so hard to just give ourselves a break? 

I believe one reason is that the battle is in your mind. I know this concept sounds simple and unhelpful, but if we truly understood this, we wouldn't so easily succumb to every thought, emotion and lie that tried to weasel it's way into our minds. 

I've heard the saying before, "You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair." Negative thoughts and emotions will come, but it's what we do with those thoughts that matters. Will we think about it, and think about it some more? Maybe it's true? It certainly makes sense looking at my track record.. Maybe I'm thinking it for a reason? 

OF COURSE YOU ARE! The enemy of your soul has no power over you except for what you give over to him in your mind. And he would love nothing more than for you to meditate on those thoughts and emotions for just a little bit longer. The longer you linger there, the harder it seems to shake it off. 

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.
— Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

What we have to do is to learn to separate those negative thoughts and emotions from who we truly are, from our identity. The Word of God is what tells us who we are at our core. When we spend time in the Word, it cuts off anything that we're believing that isn't truth. It "trims the fat" and separates the lies. When you can start recognizing the thought or emotion as a lie, you can now choose to let it go and replace it with truth. Your not owning it anymore; it doesn't belong to you. 

In one of C. S. Lewis' greatest works The Screwtape Letters, a collection of letters are written to a young demon named Wormwood, all signed the same, "Love your affectionate Uncle, Screwtape."  In it, Lewis brilliantly depicts the perspective of evil, and exposes the tactics of the enemy. 

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The attacks on your life and in your mind come from the one who sees everything that you could become, and fears you. He will do whatever it takes to keep your mind from realizing what lies within you. When we understand this, negative thoughts and emotions become such trivial things compared to the greater story. After all, you don't attack something that doesn't threaten you. We can truly look at ourselves and say, "Wow, someone must be scared of what I will become."