I must confess, I am predisposed to like anything Phylicia Masonheimer puts out there, and this book, Stop Calling Me Beautiful (SCMB), was no exception. To further prove this point, I had a friend reach out to me with a faith struggle question, and instantly my response was, I’m sending a book your way. Mind you, this was before I’d gotten even a quarter of the way through SCMB. I just knew, based on my love of Phylicia, she had wisdom that would help my friend. In the end, my friend finished the book even faster than I did. So something must have clicked.
When You Know You’re Not Perfect
I’ve heard so many speakers designed to hype me up about who I am and how that should draw me close to God as a result. You’re a princess, they’ll say. You’re a queen; God made you perfect; He made you beautiful, and so on. That’s all well and good until suddenly…I’m faced with my own sin and struggles. Sure, God did make me beautiful. He did make me perfect…but then I was born into sin, and I let “ugly” things in (Psalm 51:5). So a clichéd phrase about my being flawless does not help me when I look in the mirror, or when I’ve disappointed a friend who comes to me with hurt feelings from an unhealthy moment I didn’t speak from a place of love.
To patronize me with expressions of how I am good enough, when I know perfectly well I need God’s grace, has always been tough for me to swallow. I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Girl Talk That’s Real Talk
Reading this book felt like I was having a conversation with her that I’ve always needed. It answers the questions of how to exist in a world that’s so much more complicated than the message: God is good, you’re His kid, so you’re loved…now go live a great life!
Now that’s definitely a true statement, but there’s a reason God created a giant book (the Bible) to help us understand who He is and who we are in greater depth, and I believe SCMB is a great companion to breaking that help down into digestible chapters full of wisdom, personal stories, and many scriptures.
She covers the struggle we as women all face and a challenge (and best of all, help) to go deeper and not just settle for a world of social media where time with the Lord is solely for the purpose of a social media post. Later chapters dive into how we can overcome legalism in our circles, and as with all of her content, she gets to the roots of the issue. It’s not simply a message of this is bad, let’s be better. It’s the why and how. Next, she tackles anxiety, grief, broken sexuality, building relationships, fear of man, and much more.
Loving God for God’s Sake
“…I’d been seeking Jesus to learn more about myself. I sought Him to find peace or to get away from the effects of my sin. I followed Him, but mainly as a means to an end, and my spiritual life reflected that. When I began searching for God for God’s sake, I discovered the kind of spiritual walk Jesus came to initiate. I discovered what He meant by His promise that He had come to give us abundant life (John 10:10) (Masonheimer, 2020, pg. 12).”
This quote from Phylicia in the introduction named “The Chapter Before the First,” summarizes so much of my faith-walk, and it sets the stage for what she dives into through the book’s content. When we focus on what God has for us rather than searching for God for His own sake, we miss out on the depth, the richness, and ultimately, the entire point of salvation and relationship with Him.
It makes me think of marrying someone for the tax deduction, jewelry, sex, and procreation options, rather than genuinely wanting to know someone and be known by them: forsaking the opportunity for true intimacy and God’s intention for marriage to reflect Him, and instead seeing it as a strategic move. It would be as if every conversation with your spouse was your asking if he got a raise or telling him where you’d like your next vacation to be and asking that he pays for it but not come along. Or if he does insist on coming, it’s only in the capacity that he protects you but not interfere with your fun. What a shallow construct for a marriage! And what a missed opportunity to know and be known. For me, I want that abundant life God offers, and after 30 years on this earth, I have seen there is no way to truly get that but via a surrendered life. When we deep dive into God for God’s sake, we will experience an adventure far beyond the shallowness that so many of us have experienced.
If that all sounds well and good but is not where you’re at presently, I’d encourage you to get SCMB anyway. Reading through, I bet you’ll find yourself over and over relating to Phylicia, and as a result, will feel encouraged to want to go deeper, and then as you continue to read, you’ll find the wisdom to do so through her transparent writing style.
Phylicia covers a vast array of topics, so no matter what struggle you’re facing, you will find yourself encouraged, challenged, and motivated to move closer to truly knowing God on a deeper level…And while you’re at it, I’d encourage you to check out her resources at phyliciamasonheimer.com.
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There are so many sources out there feeding curious minds with unhealthy and damaging perspectives on sexuality. I loved reading Phylicia’s book because I think a lot of us have been where she was, wanting to know more but uncomfortable with asking questions.
Lucy’s is just one of many stories author Abigail Shrier tells in her book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Although not a Christian book, Shrier analyzes a problem facing a segment of our population Across My Heart Ministries cares deeply about: teenage girls. In her book, she unpacks the gender identity crisis seizing today’s adolescent girls like a viral contagion. For this reason, I read the book, and I am so glad I did!
Intimacy in marriage reflects a powerful truth of the gospel – that we are fully known by God, yet deeply loved. Just as the woman caught in adultery in John 7 stands before the Savior fully exposed yet not condemned, each one of His daughters stands before God, fully known but free.