Confidence

Pawn Shops & Louboutins

Pawn Shops & LouboutinsYou are fearfully and wonderfully made. For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus.  Ps. 139:14, Eph. 2:10 

You can see them from the window. Some walk hurriedly by and don’t dare step foot in. They prefer quantity and would rather not invest on quality.

Locked away in those shiny cases, far above reach.  With bright, shiny lights positioned ever so perfectly showcasing their design. Here, you won’t find that they’re on sale. Or even 15% off.  For these items, markdowns don’t happen and member discounts aren’t given. No bartering is done.

Anything but ordinary, these items are bought with a price. And a pretty penny at that.  Alas, these are couture.

So I’ll admit it. I discriminate. Not all of my handbags are treated equally.  A few of my favorites lie safely stowed away on my top shelf; filled with stuffing to hold their shape, and carefully placed inside cotton dust covers to protect them. While others are sadly thrown aside, hidden in the corner and usually covered with dirty laundry. In my closet, it’s embarrassingly easy to determine which items I was willing to pay more for.

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re a girl.  Why?  Because all girls love the ingenious brilliance and beauty of our ever-changing fashion world.  Chanel, Stuart Weitzman, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, and Alexander McQueen top off my favorites list. Shoes. Yes, especially the shoes.

Though they have rightfully earned their name and price tag, I must admit at times I’m shocked to find what people are willing to spend on popular brands and fashion fads. I remember getting on to one of my girlfriends after learning what she paid. “Do you realize you’re just paying for that label!?” I exclaimed.

And that was just it. It didn’t matter where it had been, what color it was, or whose arm it was on. All that mattered was that tiny little label stitched on the inside. It alone determined its worth. And that pretty little label sells itself right off the shelf.

val·ue [val-yoo]  noun: merit, or importance, estimated or assigned worth.

Have you ever found those gorgeous, red-heeled, Christian Louboutin‘s at a pawn shop, or garage sale? I sure haven’t. Such beauty doesn’t belong there.  And quite frankly, most of their shoppers wouldn’t recognize their worth.

I had an epiphany the other day. And maybe you’re starting to join me in it. Much like designer wear, our worth is not found in our design, but is because of our designer. The name we carry inside determines our value.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard this. Or maybe you’ve heard it so many times you’ve grown seemingly numb.

So let it sink in…

You don’t belong at The Dollar Store, just any old pawn shop, or someone’s pile of dirty laundry.  And you weren’t born to be resold.

You were designed by the master of all artists. And it doesn’t get any more couture than you. You are one of a kind baby. Yes, you are His striking masterpiece.

And He died, just so He could call you His.

So dare to get to know He who created you and understands your original design.  Hold your head high because of what’s inside.

Stand fast, lead with character and fight off anything that threatens your value.  Don’t be a counterfeit, or envy how easy they are to come by.

Surrender everything and hold nothing back.  If you take pride in anything, boast in Him and what He’s done for you. Don’t compare yourself to others, it only aids in making you either prideful or insecure.

Learn to live in the season you’re in and don’t take it for granted. Because like fashion; it too will change.  Abide in the grace, peace, and joy He has provided for you in the here and the now.

If you’re a woman, don’t resent your covering, even when you feel hidden. And don’t settle in places that dumb-down your value, or guarantee that you’ll be taken quickly. Wait for the gentleman who knows, bears, and promotes the Name above all labels.

If you’re a man, don’t look for a cheap deal, but instead, hold out for the best– even if it costs you more.  Don’t just look for the “prettiest” design, but instead, observe and inquire if she truly knows her designer. And finally, only lead if you’re following.

I’ve come to realize that confidence in Christ is an ever-growing adventure. And I’m so thankful for the process the Lord started in me before I met my sweet husband, Johnny. Without it, I would’ve been sure to sell myself short and bound to have missed out on the wonderful marriage I’m blessed with now. But even after getting married, though I am proud to be an amazing man’s wife, I must still draw my value from Jesus Christ. I am thankful for His name that I bear. He alone gave and gives me my worth.

TAKE IT OFF

TAKE IT OFF
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.  Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you…”

But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.  I don’t know anything.”

God told me, “I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.  I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Don’t be afraid…I’ll be right there, looking after you.
Jeremiah 1:5-10 9 (The Msg).

I’ve recently found myself facing MYSELF–who am I?  Really?  Apart from relationships.  Agendas aside and cameras off.  What do I like?  What’s my “calling?”  What’s my communication style?  How do I cope?  What annoys me?  And why on earth am I so indecisive?

I’ll never forget my first identity crisis.  It was so blatantly obvious it blew up in my face and triggered a meltdown that took me months to come out of.   It was my first semester at CFNI, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and was perfectly content on my own.  My best friend, Cara bravely stood by me as I began a three-day saga of finding, choosing and purchasing the perfect new camera.  My previous one had broken and I needed a new one.  I’m picky, like to spend my money well and don’t settle for cheap.  So, it was clear that poor Cara had her work cut out for her.

Sure, you may laugh at this, but to me, it was a big deal.  I don’t like to splurge but I’m big on quality “more bang for your buck” kind of purchases.  Six stores, a gabazillion price comparisons, one-hundred-something online customer reviews, and three store reps later; I narrowed all of my options down to two cameras; A sleek black one, or a slightly chubbier pink one.  Both at the same store: Best Buy had lived up to its name.  But I was torn.  Here I was, trying to make a decision and I just couldn’t seem to decide.  My stubborn indecisiveness refused to take the day off.  Discouraged and frustrated with myself, we finally left—without purchasing so much as a camera case.

Three days later, I went back.  This time, I was determined to leave the building with a slightly lighter wallet and the perfect camera in hand.   I bee-lined it to the camera section but my determination wasn’t enough to cancel out my indecisiveness.  I quickly found myself begging a 40-something year old rep to just make the decision for me.  Not because his taste was anything like mine (I’m quite sure of this) but because I just didn’t want to be responsible for making the “wrong decision”.

This older man looked me in the eyes and asked a simple, uncomplicated and perfectly ordinary question, “What do you want—why can’t you just pick one?”  This question prompted the most painfully transparent answer that shocked even me.  I replied, “Because I’ve always had a boyfriend to tell me what I should do because I can’t decide for myself.  I just broke up with my boyfriend and now I don’t know what to do.  I feel lost.”  A flood of tears quickly followed.  Here I was, water works on full blast and causing a scene in the middle of Best Buy.  Not because I was heartbroken, but because I realized I hadn’t allowed myself to choose independently from anyone else.

I had gone the previous six years always having a boyfriend.  They came and went, but I always had someone help me form and direct my “opinions”.  My mind immediately began to recall all of the things I thought I “liked”.  The Boston Red Sox- for one.  Did I even like them? No! I could care less!  Steak? I don’t even like steak, as a matter of fact, I hate steak!

Sadness started to diminish as anger began to rise within me. “WHO IN THE WORLD AM I?” was stuck on repeat and screaming in my head.  I felt like I had amnesia as I realized that a lot of my personality and preferences had been shaped by those who I had allowed in my life.  I was so overwhelmed, the only thing I could settle in my mind was that I loved God, missed my family and dog, and liked pink.

As I’m writing this, one of my good girlfriends recently broke up with her boyfriend of six years.  Their relationship was the definition of serious.  They had settled down and made a home for themselves, but after a turn of events it was made clear that they were headed in different directions.  After their split, she expressed her despair about this new-found identity crisis.  “I don’t know who I am, what to do, or how to live.  Even the stupidest things get to me.  Right down to toilet paper.  Extra soft or ultra strong?  I feel like I can’t decide anything on my own independent from him.”

What happened to us?  How did we get here?  How have we allowed others to determine who we were for so long—even after they’re long gone?  Where is God in us? How did He originally design and intend for us to be.  What are our heart’s deepest desires?  Ultimately; who are we and what do we want?

It baffles me how easy it is to pick up a burden that wasn’t ever ours to begin with.  I have a favorite pair of tennis shoes.  Everyone knows they’re my favorite because, despite my four other pairs, I always wear my white and pink Nike’s.  Last week, I was at the gym when my right foot started to fall asleep.  My first reaction was to be annoyed with myself.  You see, my left foot is 1/4 size bigger than my right foot (yes, I know—it’s embarrassing).  I was immediately flustered.  My stupid foot!  Why couldn’t it have just grown enough to at least match the other?  I thought to myself, “over my dead body am I going to solve this little problem by purchasing two different sized tennis shoes.”  Not everything is about comfort.  I would just suck it up and deal with the pain.

I sat down to loosen my shoe and give my foot some breathing room.  Then I realized it.  For the past three years, I’ve been putting on, wearing, walking, and running in these shoes.  While all this time, the right shoe wasn’t fully laced.  After purchasing this preferred pair, I had failed to lace four of the loopholes.  They were tied wrong.  All wrong.  To my dismay, my feet weren’t the issue.  As a matter of fact, the problem wasn’t me at all—it was what I was putting on.  Instead of examining my footwear, I had mistakenly blamed it on myself.

How many times do we wear, take, or own something that isn’t ours to begin with.  We blame ourselves for not being outgoing enough, funny enough, witty enough, extroverted enough, quiet enough, smart enough, pretty enough, articulate enough, educated enough.  While all the while, we aren’t meant to take it on.  Have we been trying to wear something that’s all wrong to begin with?  What, who and where on earth is the real me?  The undone, unmasked, untainted Rachel?

To be honest with you, I’m still discovering me.  Everyday is an adventure.  I have no idea who I am in myself.  I find myself in Jesus Christ.  Apart from Him I am entirely lost.  Aside from His love, I am messed up, severely fragmented and desperately damaged.  But He completes me and reveals who I am in Him.  I’m confident that I’m growing into the person that He has called me to be.  I am by no means perfect, I’m simply striving to be what He had in mind when He created me—And no human being on earth can define that for me.  So, take everything other than Him off.  He completes me.  You can run and tell that.

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish.”  Philippians 1:6 (The Msg)

EVERLASTING LOVE & FAIRY TALES

Fairy Tales & Everlasting Love

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. -Jeremiah 31:3b

I distinctly remember my first crush. Ah preschool; running around in a plaid shirt, coveralls, boots and a cowboy hat– his name was Riker. Throughout the duration of my preschool career, he was the only boy taller than me. From the moment I met him, he instantly caught my eye and I thought he was amazing. Despite the fact that he couldn’t spell, I whole-heartedly cherished his letters. I didn’t care that his mother had to translate over half of them. Reading them now, they honestly look more like finger-painted hieroglyphics. It was at this stage in life that I didn’t care about his spiritual beliefs, personality, calling, family, or background. I was more interested in regular playground activities; playing tag, making mud pies, and jumping rope. And he stood far above the rest when it came to them.

Despite our obvious connection; our relationship was cut short when he moved out of state. For a little while, I still received letters. It was an exciting “pen-pal” kind of relationship. While I’m sure long-distance relationships can work for others, in our case, the letters eventually stopped. I remember this gut-wrenching, heart-breaking reality. He was no longer mine. I seemed to be somewhat of a quiet drama queen- Holding my breath when I was angry, until I passed out. Writing depressing songs that consisted of phrases such as “all it is to you is another heart beating, another person breathing.” Yes, I was a rather odd child, crammed into a glass case of emotion, with no sense of reality, and a peculiar passion for life.

Though I may no longer be attracted to coveralls, care for mud pies, or pass out for attention, some things still remain the same.  After talking to some of my girlfriends, I’ve found a few feelings of ownership which we claim to have the right to. I’ve discovered, whether the dumper, or dumpie; we seem to think that the particular boy we are no longer with shouldn’t ever move on. As if, we are God’s special gift to them or something.

We think to ourselves; “Surely, they will never be blessed with another girl as good-or God forbid- better, than us.” For instance, if our best friend gets harshly (or nicely) dumped, we assure her that he has made a mistake. We convince our poor & miserable friend not to worry, that he will never find anyone as talented, beautiful, or caring. After talking to some of my small group girls, I found a few things we had in common. Whether we were responsible for the heartbreaking or not- in both scenarios we were still bitter and confused when they moved on. Over and over in our heads, we think to ourselves- “What, how could he move on just like that, that’s impossible, he’s not actually happy.”

We allow those around us to determine the weight of our self esteems. We build our confidence on people who were never created to define our value. Lets face it ladies, this is a pathetic attempt to justify building our worth on something which should never have been built on to begin with. We have a tendency to immediately compare and evaluate ourselves. Somehow, we weren’t enough; we didn’t cut it. Not pretty enough, not nice enough, not funny enough, not caring enough, not skinny enough, not talented enough, etc…Because if we were, he would be incapable of moving on and thus, he would still be madly in love with us until the day we die. This is painfully pitiful.

Or, maybe you were more like me in another sense; known to have “daddy issues” as a highschooler. I grew up with an abusive father who eventually walked out of my life completely. I lived trying to earn a father’s love and attention which seemed to come so easily for other girls. Growing up, this drastically influenced me to answer the question; “why am I unlovable, and what will make me likeable”. As a girl, this was a dangerous question to wrestle with- especially in our society.

At a young age, I realized that I wasn’t able to get my dad to love me but I could get guys to like me. I grew comfortable with wearing a mask on the outside which displayed an inaccurate picture of a girl whose life was perfect and had it all together. I became the unattainable tease that was never broken up with first. I vowed I would never be hurt again. I went to any length to be assured of it and have my way. Break up first; this was my motto. Unfortunately, just because I broke up first and hurt others, it never made me feel any better- or made life any easier. I was now the one hurting not only myself, but others as well. The fairy tales I read as a child- and my life had absolutely nothing in common.

I remember skipping meals, throwing up, and working out for hours at a time to keep up with models in the industry and the plastic barbies on TV. All this in hopes of being prettier, in order to gain power to get any guy I wanted. But then again, I also remember trying to gain acceptance from my own father. Dancing my heart out in order to receive approval from him. The few times he was able to make it to my performances, it made the 40-hour rehearsal weeks in point shoes worth it all. I was manipulating everything on the outside, in order to fix a deep wound on the inside.

Whether you’ve been hurt, hurt others, both, or are simply human. I believe we all feel the need to belong. We each desire to be wanted. This world shoves diet pills, sex, plastic surgery, and success, in our faces- implying that if we follow their easy step plan for lovability; we’ll be happy. However, at the end of the day, while our attempts at improvements might grow our likeability; true love’s essence is hard to come by. We eventually rationalize that we aren’t like the characters in a storybook. And, somehow, we are to blame for being unlovable.We forget that as humans, we are incapable of loving someone fully, extensively, and exclusively apart from God and His love. Unfortunately, because of our naivety, we still do our best to earn other’s love and approval by any and all means possible.

I believe that true Love doesn’t fade, grow weary, die, or ever give up. This is what it’s supposed to look like. And I believe True Love Himself, died on a cross in order to prove just how long suffering REAL LOVE is; any length, any width, any depth, any height. When we realize just how everlasting HIS love is for us, man’s version of fake and phony love pails in comparison. Cheap imitations aren’t and won’t ever be enough to fill the void. No person, job, fame, weight, hobby, or relationship will ever bring as much fulfillment as acknowledging and accepting His exclusive love. His love doesn’t hinge on our actions. He just simply loves us. Forever. It’s that simple. It’s this simplicity which makes God’s love so hard to understand. Why? Why, does He love us this way? He just does. Because He wants to. And that’s all there is to it.

I was set free when I recognized that He is the only one with the capabilities of this powerful love. It makes sense that others fail me. It is not because of what I am, or am not. It is because we are simply incapable of loving others unless we ask God for His innate ability to love. This agape love is the glue originally designed to hold marriages together. Marriages fail, not because they are supposed to, but because the relationship is most likely founded upon man’s feeble desires and indecisive “feelings”. While man’s heart can be fickle and untrustworthy at times, there is a Love worth absolutely everything in my being. This love chooses by its own will to love me steadfastly, exclusively, and despite any obstacle. When we accept that God is the only one capable of loving, and offering this kind of love—we take our eyes off of ourselves in having to earn love. I choose to rest in His unending, everlasting love that will stand against any and all odds. Who needs likeability when you have True Love?

I hope this has inspired you to embrace the One who will love you more than any one person ever will. Walk in confidence; you are loved with an everlasting love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7