If I am completely honest, prayer is something that has felt daunting to me. I have often become discouraged because my prayer life is not what I want it to be. I get distracted. I don’t always know what to pray for. Sometimes it feels like a chore. Often I feel guilty because I know prayer is a beautiful gift we have, and it is a calling. I want to have intimacy with my God, but my own imperfection discourages me. I often let my discouragement paralyze me, which inhibits me from growing in prayer.
If you were at our women’s conference in March, you will know how excited I am that the month of December is finally here. Yes, I am absolutely excited about the snow, Christmastime, and all that this season brings. But I am also really excited not to wear pants for 31 days in a row.
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.
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!
I recently asked a couple of high school girls at my church what they'd most want women of all ages to understand about what their generation faces; they paused to think, and then they started talking. The list came...and it kept coming. The key takeaway was that no matter what others were encouraging them to do, it always came with some level of pressure.
I was a 4th grader when I went home from school that day. But those feelings are still current in my 23-year-old self. I still become excited and hopeful when I get new clothes. I still long for other people to notice me, accept me, admire me. I sometimes feel lonely when I don't have attention from a loved one or even on social media. When the pressures of life surrounds me, and my feelings overtake me, it’s easy to fade away into a negative attitude and want to “go home sick”. 4th grader or young adult, those feelings are real.
I lost track of the brothers after they split up 6 years ago. On their own, Nick and Joe’s independent pursuits weren’t as wholesome as what the brothers had produced together. It quickly became apparent that their previous convictions to sexual purity were not taking priority as their music became riskier and the purity rings disappeared.
I was assigned the role of a pregnant, homeless teenager for the church Christmas musical. "How ironic is it that I speak and blog for a purity ministry and I’m playing the part of a pregnant teenager?” I should’ve known right then and there that it was time for a heart check.
God’s design for womanhood as laid out in scripture is beautiful. It’s not about being the “perfect housewife.” It’s about finding freedom in glorifying God when we live out His ways.
We’ve all had days when life won’t let up. Days when when our circumstances just seem to drag us down. Days when we feel the brokenness of our world so keenly. On these days, the despair threatens to swallow us up. Our circumstances bring feelings of loneliness. Hopelessness. Negativity. Anger. Defeat. Stress. Rejection. Anxiety. Shame. Fear. Bitterness. Our emotions can blind us and tell us lies about our circumstances. It’s only when we encounter Jesus, the Truth, that we can be set free from these lies.