It would be an understatement to say that I've lost my voice for the past couple of months. My voice as a writer, that is. So many times in the past, the Lord has lain such pressing matters and topics on my heart that I felt like I might explode if I didn't get it all out on paper or some kind of outlet. On several occasions, the Lord has even woken me at obscene hours and I've had to go straight to my notebook or computer. But here lately, I've had nothing. Besides posting a few picture blogs documenting our days, I've done nothing but draw blanks in terms of deep, heart-felt writing. The Lord took it from me. And I had no idea why until a couple of days ago when I started reading this book that my dear friend, Paula, let me borrow:
This has been the most beneficial book that I have ever read besides the bible. And I read a lot! Not only did this book help me get to the bottom of my writer's block, it has taught me how to allow God to heal up the brokenness in me that I didn't even know was there. I'll start from the beginning and you'll see how all this connects:
For the past three and a half years, I have chalked up my "just getting by and going through the motions" attitude to the stresses of being a young, weary mom who is trying to balance so many different duties and demands. I just assumed that this was survival mode at its finest and that one day, when my circumstances change, my attitude will change. I couldn't have been more wrong. Each day that the Lord blesses us with, no matter our circumstances, we are here to bring Him glory and to follow Him with all of our heart. But we can't exactly do that if our heart is not in the right place, now can we?
This book drew me in from the very beginning as the first chapter discusses the heart of a woman. And at the very center of every woman is the desire to be beautiful. And yes, this desire is from God. However, we as women have a misconstrued idea of what it means to be beautiful. The book puts it this way, "...when we speak about the essence of a woman-her beauty- we don't mean "the perfect figure....The beauty of a woman is first a soulful beauty. And yes, as we live it out, own it, inhabit our beauty, we do become more lovely. More alluring....Our true self becomes reflected in our appearance. But it flows from the inside out." (page 130)
This hit me hard because I knew that my insides have not been very pretty for the last couple of years. And I know that I've had a lot of people fooled. But to the ones who are closest to me (my husband and kids), no amount of makeup and pretty clothing could hide the resentment, bitterness, and sourness that was welling up inside of me and pouring out. And I know that I am not alone in having felt this way. So how did I/we get to this point?
From the book: "Every woman I've ever met feels it-something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone." (page 7)
Obviously, the Lord did not create us to beat up on ourselves like this. Yes, we should have a humble spirit, but we should also have a healthy confidence in who we are in Christ. But how do we get back that confidence? How do those who have never had it, obtain it?
I think first we need to pin point why we feel that way. The book goes into great detail and gives many examples of women who have been abused verbally and physically in the worst ways you could ever imagine. But what about all the other women, like me, who haven't suffered from beatings, but still feel like we are not enough and too much at the same time?
In my own life, I can't pin point one exact instance that has brought me here. It has been a countless, many things!...many things that I can not discuss publicly that have left me broken, bitter, resentful, hating myself, blaming myself, questioning myself, etc....Through so much pain and playing the blame game, I have lost sight of what it means to be a beautiful, captivating woman.
A beautiful, captivating woman...It is within reach of every redeemed woman. But it's not enough to just say, "from this day on, I'm going to be (fill in the blank) or I'm not going to (fill in the blank)." It's a daily crying out to God to give us strength, energy, help, etc., in every hopeless situation that you face. For me it will probably be, "Lord, give me patience with these boys!" But one day, I'm sure it will be, "Lord, I don't even have the words...just hold me."
When we are feeling hurt, broken, crushed, bitter, etc., we can not afford to listen to the enemy. And it's going to be hard. He's going to be there every day saying things like "you're worthless, you're not a woman, you're too much...and not enough, you're a disappointment, and you are repulsive." (page 100)
And this is where the rubber is going to meet the road. Are we going to believe the lies of the enemy? I have, countless times. And you want to know what I have done to make myself feel better? It hasn't been crying out to God to deliver me. No, unfortunately, I have made vows with myself like this: "Fine. If that's how it is, then that's how it is. I'll live my life in the following way..." (page 101) And in making these vows, I think that I am protecting myself from ever being hurt again. But the truth is, I am only creating my own prison far from redemption, forgiveness and grace. I am not allowing God to heal me. I'm closing myself off to him and to everyone around me. And I turn to other things to make me temporarily happy and give me some kind of escape....writing, reading, shopping trips, cleaning, organizing, house projects, etc. For some, it's drugs, alchohol, sex, pornography. (Insert your own addiction/ way of escape here)
And that is the main reason why I think that the Lord took away my writing voice for awhile. I was using it as a means of escape from my heartaches instead of calling out to Him to deliver me. It is true that we serve a jealous God and He will do whatever it takes to get our attention sometimes. What is it going to take to get your attention?
So what are you struggling with, my friend? What lies has the enemy fooled you into believing? What means of escape have you turned to?
Whatever you are going through, know that you ARE a beautiful, captivating woman. But that inner beauty has been hidden down deep and replaced with self hatred. Ask God to deliver you from your self hatred, self made vows, brokenness, bitterness, addictions, etc. Ask Him to unveil the beautiful woman within yourself. Ask Him...and watch that beauty begin to reflect on the outside as well!
Tomorrow is New Years Day...what better time to start than now?
And go grab you a copy of Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I promise, you won't regret it! : )