Mirror images of a woman

(This first posted in 2018.)

We all have an idea of who we want to be, who we think we are, and who, in Christ, we’re becoming. Sometimes those “identities” contradict one another, leaving us feeling confused, frustrated, and defeated. If you’ve entrusted your life to Jesus, Ephesians 2:10 says you’re His masterpieces, handcrafted for a specific purpose, planned before you took our first breath. As my guest today illustrates, the more we allow God to chisel and mold us, the more we discover who we truly are–who God created us to be.

 

Becoming What God Desires

by Katie Clark.

It’s hard to live as the person God created me to be. Sometimes this contradicts who I think I am. Other times, discovering her involves pain and heartache. I criticize, talk down to myself, and obsess over all my failures.

Broken dreams, failed plans, and unexpected roadblocks have diverted my vision and altered my steps. Instead, I find myself on a different path—the one God put me on.

I’m slowly learning how to be whom God designed instead of the person I thought I would be. I’m also learning, even in my broken places, I’m still the person I always thought I was. I’m broken andflower image with some broken petals and text from the post whole. Broken because of the path my life has taken, but whole because of how Jesus put me back together.

I struggle with knowing whether I can be both at once, but I know it’s true because I’ve lived it. 1 Peter 2:9 tells me I’m chosen, whether I feel this or not. Daily Bible reading, devotions, and prayer time are my most trusted means of coming to terms with who God made me to be.

But I’ve also found being this person—this broken yet whole person who struggles with grief and pain—allows me to connect with others in a way I never knew was possible before. I can see the brokenness in others now, and I want to help them. I believe serving others can bring healing and wholeness in a way nothing else can.

I still struggle with self-degradation and living in regret. Questioning all my choices that led me to this place. But through a gentle walk with God I’m learning I don’t have to listen to those negative voices in my head. I can stand boldly in Christ and be the person He fashions me into each day.

What about you? How do you find strength and courage to step into God’s role for your life? What are some ways you combat negative, self-defeating thought patterns? Share your thoughts, tips, and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

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You’ll receive great content sent directly to your inbox (a short story, devotion, recipe, and more) cover image for study based on 1 Timothyalong with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook) based on 1 Timothy (sent separately via a clickable link in the follow-up welcome letter). Note: If you signed up for her newsletter but never received your free ebook, please contact me HERE.

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Get to know Katie!

Katie's author pictureKatie Clark started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes adult inspirational romance, including her novel Securing The Handyman’s Heart, and her Christmas novel Radio Wave Romance. She also writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her supernatural survival novel, Shadowed Eden, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

Check out her latest release, The Rejected Princess:

When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the cover image for The Forgotten Princessmysterious and backwards kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees. But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs.

Before you leave, make sure to catch the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode.

 

What Does Jesus Say about the Bible (Luke 24:27) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/ Meet Our Hosts: JENNIFER SLATTERY is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com Follow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ GRACE FOX has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren. Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517 Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: http://www.gracefox.com Follow Grace:Facebook: http://www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor QUINNISE PETTWAY is a writer, facilitator, Licensed Professional Counselor, wife, and mother whose mission is to help Christians encounter and embrace God as Father and walk boldly as His beloved children. She's the author of A Glimpse of Our Father: Lessons Parenthood Reveals for All of God's Children and hosts a weekly small group called “Gathering For A Glimpse” where she journeys with participants through the book to dive deeper into the heart of our heavenly Father. Follow Quinnise:Website- https://aglimpseofourfather.com/Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/aglimpseofourfatherInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/quinnisepettway/ Check out her YouVersion Bible App Devotional Plan (Inspired by full book) A Glimpse of Our Father: A 5-Day Devotional Plan for All of God's Children: http://bible.us/r/82J JOSHUA LILLIE is a passionate follower of Jesus, spreadsheet enthusiast, and lover of all kinds of art and music. Joshua has almost a decade of experience in music ministry, and has served both in house church and megachurch environments in pastoral and administrative roles, eager to see every man, woman, and child increasingly surrender their lives to King Jesus. He currently serves on staff with Christ Community Church in Omaha, NE, and as an ordained minister with the Christian & Missionary Alliance, a global denomination of Jesus-followers making Him known among the nations.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. What Does Jesus Say about the Bible (Luke 24:27)
  2. Our Response to Truth (John 7:17)
  3. Love, Trust, Rejoice (1 Peter 1:8)
  4. A Life of Thankfulness (1 Thessalonians 1:2)
  5. Keys to a Blessed Life (Psalm 1:1-2)

quote on pale blue and pink paint splotched graphic.

Honestly, I’m a pansy when it comes to suffering. This might be why I feel such admiration and respect for those like my sweet friend and team member, Kelly Campbell who’ve endured incredible and ongoing hardship with perseverance and grace. This is also why when women like her speak on this subject, I pay attention, because I know they have much to teach me.

Godly Suffering by Wholly Loved’s Kelly Campbell

Believe it or not, becoming physically disabled at 40 has actually been one of my greatest blessings! God didn’t cause my stroke but He allowed it to happen so I would learn in ways I never would have otherwise. I tell everyone I meet that if I could go back and change that July night, I wouldn’t because of how my life has changed for the better. 

The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, discussed his own “thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor. 12:7). While he never identifies his exact ailment, his suffering kept him from pride and reminded him that his ministry success lay in Christ. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul encouraged Christians not to miss the opportunities that walking through suffering can bring. 

Before my injury, I spent most of my life rebuffing any attempt to get close to me. I could pray for others and serve but didn’t want others to do the same for me. But I have learned (albeit the hard way) that we need others. We need community to thrive. I believe God uses others to heal us emotionally, relationally, and spiritually but it’s so easy to get comfortable in our own little world. 

Our circumstances/plight/struggle can become our identity. When we allow our losses, struggles, and secrets to keep us in isolation, we can’t achieve our full potential and healing. Proverbs 27:17 states, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  In other words, those with deep and godly relationships help one another improve. When we use our situations to connect with the hurting, offering support, information, and resources, we can help them build new lives and realize their highest new capabilities and how God is always walking right beside them.

It’s with that faith I can say I am healed- emotionally, spiritually, mentally, in my relationships with others, and, despite my outward appearance, even physically. It is truly healing redefined. Far too often when we hear a pastor or speaker ask if anyone needs prayer for healing, our default answer is “I’m physically healthy so I don’t.”

Quote from Kelly's post on a pink graphic with blue paint splotches.

Can I challenge you to reach out to someone in your community and ask them to pray for your emotional, mental, spiritual or relational healing? Our Heavenly Father is waiting to guide us and to love us as much in the future as He is in the here and now. He fills those places in us that loss hollows out, shining His light on the road ahead. Psalm 119:105 sums it up beautifully- “Your word is a lamp onto my feet (the now) and a light onto my path (the future).”

Get to Know Kelly!

Kelly Campbell survived a massive stroke at 40 that left her physically disabled but with a passion for prayer and other survivors. She is currently completing her Masters of Divinity in Healthcare Chaplaincy and serves on the board of directors for the Brain Injury Association of Georgia (BIAG).

Kelly currently leads the prayer team at her church in Woodstock, GA. She is a single mother of adult sons and has two beautiful daughters-in-law. She leads a number of brain injury support groups around her home state of Georgia and loves to use her testimony to help others.

Verses taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episode:

Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions Faith Over Fear

We all have certain reactions that arise when we feel threatened, whether that threat is real or perceived. We have an innate desire to self-protect. If we aren’t aware of these tendencies, however, we may react in ways that pushes others away and therefore reinforce or deepen our hurts and increases our defensive reactions. In this episode, mental health expert Tina Yeager helps us unpack these potentially destructive responses, what triggers them, and how we can respond to our triggers and our reactions in a grace-filled, healthy way. (Contact Tina through her website provided below to find out how to access the free resource she mentioned in today’s episode.)(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Tina Yeager: https://www.tinayeager.com/books/https://www.instagram.com/tina.yeager.9/https://www.facebook.com/tina.yeager.9Find Jennifer Slattery at:https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083247680572Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion or Personal Journal Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.When do you most tend to get defensive? 3.In those particular situations, what story are you telling yourself?4.What are some truths you can reflect upon prior to those types of situations or interactions with that particular person?5.Why is it important to recognize that not everyone is a safe person who will be helpful while you are working to heal? 6.How did you feel when Tina and Jennifer talked about potentially limiting time with unhealthy family members? 7.What were some signs Tina mentioned that can indicate a person is not willing to change? 8.How can recognizing this help you find the healthiest level of involvement with an individual more focused on casting blame than moving toward relational health?9.What is one action step God might be asking you to take after having listened to today’s content?
  1. Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions
  2. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  3. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  4. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  5. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128

Man holding hand over his mouth(Please note: This piece originally posted on March 8, 2018.)

My words have gotten me into a heap of trouble. I’ve initiated and meddled in arguments I shouldn’t have, fought to be right rather than understand, and wreaked destruction in the name of self-defense.

Considering the consequences wrought from my careless, and often damaging, statements, one would think I’d have learned to guard my words. But though I’ve memorized, prayed, and recited verses addressing this issue numerous times, I continue to stumble.

Here’s why: I’ve been fighting the symptom instead of the cause.

Whenever my mouth (or keyboard) runs a muck, my pride’s at fault. The solution, then, is surrender—making Jesus, obedience to Him, and the intimacy that follows (rather than man’s opinion) my treasure.

Let me explain using Proverbs 18:2 as an example: “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.”

Because we believe we know best, need to defend ourselves, or prove our point.

Often, this is triggered by fear (which, 90% of the time is rooted in pride)—fear of losing face or not getting something we want or hope for. But in our desire to elevate or defend ourselves, we can miss crucial unspoken “heart talk.”

Let me give an example. A while back, I engaged in a somewhat heated discussion with someone, one that revealed considerable miscommunication—things that were heard that were never said, statements taken out of context, and others extrapolated in confusing ways. Focused on the miscommunication, I attempted to unpack each one.

Remaining oblivious to the insecurities and wounds underlying it all and therefore only exacerbated the problem. Had I focused on the person’s heart more than their words, I could’ve responded with more wisdom and grace.

Reading through Proverbs 18, I thought of this interchange, and as I often do, of my propensity to talk myself into trouble. Only this time, I went deeper, to my heart. How, I wondered, could I respond differently the next time when, so often, my words tumble out before my brain catches up?

Evaluating the whys behind my behaviors, I came up with a list:

  1. Recognize I don’t need to defend myself. When someone criticizes me, if their complaints are valid, acknowledge this and prayerfully consider two women friendsways I might change. Because living in grace means I’m in need of it. I’m broken and prone to sin and nowhere near who God would have me to be, and yet I’m accepted and deeply loved. This disarms my pride with humility as I recognize my need for Christ, and this in turn gives me the courage to grow.
  2. Recognize God’s opinion and my obedience to Him is more important than man’s perception of me. When I base my identity in Christ and treasure intimacy with Him more than “saving face,” I don’t need to defend myself or prove a point.
  3. When I begin to feel defensive, uncover the fear beneath, and then remind myself of who I am in Christ. He’s my defender, protector, perfect guide, and the One who holds my future in His hands.
  4. Don’t own whatever’s not true. Simply disregard it, reminding myself of action steps one through three.
  5. Finally, listen for the fears and insecurities behind my “opponent’s” words and address those before attempting to resolve anything external.

Relational conflicts can be messy, confusing, and cloaked in emotion and false perceptions. To resolve them grace-fully, putting a guard rail on my tongue in the process, I need to take time to go deep—to my and my opponent’s heart, surrendering my pride and resultant emotions to Jesus so that He can love that other person through me.

Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to guard your tongue? When considering times your words have gotten you into trouble, can you see similar “root causes” as I mentioned in my list? In the above, I suggested pride is often the root of our fears and fear is often the root of much conflict. Do you agree or disagree, and why so? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you leave, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter.

Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE.

Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions Faith Over Fear

We all have certain reactions that arise when we feel threatened, whether that threat is real or perceived. We have an innate desire to self-protect. If we aren’t aware of these tendencies, however, we may react in ways that pushes others away and therefore reinforce or deepen our hurts and increases our defensive reactions. In this episode, mental health expert Tina Yeager helps us unpack these potentially destructive responses, what triggers them, and how we can respond to our triggers and our reactions in a grace-filled, healthy way. (Contact Tina through her website provided below to find out how to access the free resource she mentioned in today’s episode.)(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Tina Yeager: https://www.tinayeager.com/books/https://www.instagram.com/tina.yeager.9/https://www.facebook.com/tina.yeager.9Find Jennifer Slattery at:https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083247680572Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion or Personal Journal Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.When do you most tend to get defensive? 3.In those particular situations, what story are you telling yourself?4.What are some truths you can reflect upon prior to those types of situations or interactions with that particular person?5.Why is it important to recognize that not everyone is a safe person who will be helpful while you are working to heal? 6.How did you feel when Tina and Jennifer talked about potentially limiting time with unhealthy family members? 7.What were some signs Tina mentioned that can indicate a person is not willing to change? 8.How can recognizing this help you find the healthiest level of involvement with an individual more focused on casting blame than moving toward relational health?9.What is one action step God might be asking you to take after having listened to today’s content?
  1. Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions
  2. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  3. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  4. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  5. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128

Sometimes, when I encounter others just beginning their faith journey, I forget how tumultuous, difficult, and confusing my first stumbling steps were. I forget how tightly I held to the familiar, even if that meant staying stuck in dysfunction or pain.  And in my mess, my insecurities, and my fears, the patience of my Savior as He daily stooped to my level, took my clammy hand in His, and led me step by step, truth by truth, to spacious fields of joy and peace (Ps. 23).

Not long ago, after I’d shared some of my story with a podcast guest, he proclaimed, “How courageous you were to follow Jesus on that journey of healing.”

Only I wasn’t brave at all, nor did I have any idea where God was leading me half the time. In fact, if it had been up to me, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have moved forward at all. But in those moments when my feet became paralyzed with fear, Jesus descended to my level, took my hand in His and gently, lovingly, yet persistently led me to increased freedom.

That’s why He came. To proclaim good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners and the oppressed, and recovery of sight to the blind. His heart has always been tender toward the broken, confused, and deceived. We catch such a beautiful analogy of this, almost like a real-life parable, in Mark 8.

Jesus and His disciples had crossed the sea of Galilee and into Bethsaida, an area He’d previously denounced for its widespread lack of faith or spiritual vision. Verses 22-26 tell us, “…some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.”

Then, He spit on the man’s eyes and asked him if he could see.

Although his vision had improved, it remained blurry. “He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” And so, Jesus touched the man’s eyes again, and this time his sight was restored.

Pause to envision this interaction, as Christ took the man’s hand and led him out of the village. Can you sense Jesus’ gentleness and tender care? I picture Him walking slowly, careful not to cause the man to trip. Taking the man to a more private location, He healed him partially, allowing those first rays of light to stream in, before shattering the darkness for good.

I wonder, what happened in that man’s heart and mind, during that process? Did threads of doubt and fear begin to melt away? Did whispers of lies rise to the surface then get swept away for good? Did the Savior’s first touch, then the second, then the third help him to heal, then teach him to trust, and then to rest?

The passage doesn’t tell us why the One whose words cast out demons and brought life to a girl, once dead, chose to heal this man in such a gradual and deeply personal way. But we know Christ’s shepherd’s heart for His sheep, for those who’ve been walking for some time and maybe have recovered most of their sight. And for those who’ve just begun and are taking their very first timid and stumbling steps. He’s bringing us all to places of unhindered freedom, nudging us ever so gently yet persistently forward.

May we remember this image the next time we’re tempted to grow frustrated with someone else’s slow progress. May we resist the temptation to shove our broken brothers and sisters forward. May we instead slow our step to patiently walk beside them, knowing God will ensure we both reach our destinations.    

Let’s talk about this! Pause to consider all the ways God stooped down to grab hold of you. Remember some of your greatest struggles, or maybe even your current battles. How does your memory of those moments impact your view of other people’s behaviors?

For those following our Chronological Bible reading plan through the New Testament …

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions Faith Over Fear

We all have certain reactions that arise when we feel threatened, whether that threat is real or perceived. We have an innate desire to self-protect. If we aren’t aware of these tendencies, however, we may react in ways that pushes others away and therefore reinforce or deepen our hurts and increases our defensive reactions. In this episode, mental health expert Tina Yeager helps us unpack these potentially destructive responses, what triggers them, and how we can respond to our triggers and our reactions in a grace-filled, healthy way. (Contact Tina through her website provided below to find out how to access the free resource she mentioned in today’s episode.)(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Tina Yeager: https://www.tinayeager.com/books/https://www.instagram.com/tina.yeager.9/https://www.facebook.com/tina.yeager.9Find Jennifer Slattery at:https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083247680572Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion or Personal Journal Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.When do you most tend to get defensive? 3.In those particular situations, what story are you telling yourself?4.What are some truths you can reflect upon prior to those types of situations or interactions with that particular person?5.Why is it important to recognize that not everyone is a safe person who will be helpful while you are working to heal? 6.How did you feel when Tina and Jennifer talked about potentially limiting time with unhealthy family members? 7.What were some signs Tina mentioned that can indicate a person is not willing to change? 8.How can recognizing this help you find the healthiest level of involvement with an individual more focused on casting blame than moving toward relational health?9.What is one action step God might be asking you to take after having listened to today’s content?
  1. Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions
  2. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  3. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  4. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  5. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128

Graphic with quote on grace

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that most of our negative encounters, conflicts, and relational barriers stem from fear. And in this, from a failure to accept, understand, and live in grace. When we mess up, think we have, or worry someone else determines we have, we tend to hide, to blame, to deflect, and point fingers. Many of us have come to recognize these unhealthy reactions in ourselves. But are we also able to see these tendencies in others?

We have a tendency to see the outward symptoms, but God zeroes in on the heart. We see the failings. God sees those too, but always with His eye set on each of our potential. You may have heard the sculptor analogy, may even have used it to comfort yourself.

Man chiseling stone

It says, in essence, that just as the artists sees his finished masterpiece in a slab of stone, once all the excess has been chipped away and rough edges sanded smooth, so too God sees His masterpiece hidden within our sin and brokenness. And like a careful craftsman, He slowly, gently, patiently molds us into men and women who more accurately reflect His Son.

But here’s the thing—we’re not the only ones He’s molding, and we’re not the only ones in need of grace. We’re not the only ones who need to be reminded that there indeed is grace.

My daughter often says, “Every painting has an ugly phase,” a phase, frankly, the artist never wants to display. Some may even bolt the doors to the studio, barring entrance until their work reaches a certain standard.

I suspect this is true for many of the people you and I encounter. They long to be fully known and fully loved. We all do. But they’re afraid of rejection. So, whenever someone begins to jiggle their doorknob or their unfinished pieces begin to show, they react. They lash out, withdraw, or both. Humans have exhibited this pattern of fear-based behavior since the beginning of time, since the very first humans committed their very first sin.

You might be familiar with this story preserved in Genesis 3. God gave Adam and Eve a clear and reasonable command. They could enjoy everything in the literal paradise God had created except for the fruit from a single tree. They disobeyed, despite the abundance, and immediately felt the weight of their sin. Shame entered their heart and caused them to hide, to deflect, and to blame. (Gen. 3:7-14) They felt exposed and immediately sought to cover their shame, to in effect plaster over their sin. But nothing they did could appease their guilt or remove their shame.

So, how did God respond?

He moved in. “Where are you?” He asked (v. 9), and not because He didn’t know. Rather, He was calling them out of hiding, into the light of His presence once more*. Then, verse 21 tells us, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” This was the first animal sacrifice in history, a vivid picture of Christ’s death to come. In other words, through this covering, God did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves; He covered them in grace.

The same grace He provided to you and I. A grace He wants us to not only experience but also put on full display.

Our God is still calling people out of hiding, and He longs to use us to do so. May He help us to see, respond to, and love others in the same way He loves us so that through us everyone we encounter may catch a glimpse of His life-changing grace.

*Idea taken from Tara Rye, a Wholly Loved Team Member, and her thoughts on this biblical account.

Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plan

As you prayerfully work through various relationships, you may find Wholly Loved’s 20 Days to Relational Health Bible plan helpful. Locate it HERE.

And for all of us parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, and uncles, I encourage you to listen to my latest Faith Over Fear Podcast, titled Raising Courageous Kids. Because we all have a responsibility to love the next generation well.

Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions Faith Over Fear

We all have certain reactions that arise when we feel threatened, whether that threat is real or perceived. We have an innate desire to self-protect. If we aren’t aware of these tendencies, however, we may react in ways that pushes others away and therefore reinforce or deepen our hurts and increases our defensive reactions. In this episode, mental health expert Tina Yeager helps us unpack these potentially destructive responses, what triggers them, and how we can respond to our triggers and our reactions in a grace-filled, healthy way. (Contact Tina through her website provided below to find out how to access the free resource she mentioned in today’s episode.)(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Tina Yeager: https://www.tinayeager.com/books/https://www.instagram.com/tina.yeager.9/https://www.facebook.com/tina.yeager.9Find Jennifer Slattery at:https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083247680572Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion or Personal Journal Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.When do you most tend to get defensive? 3.In those particular situations, what story are you telling yourself?4.What are some truths you can reflect upon prior to those types of situations or interactions with that particular person?5.Why is it important to recognize that not everyone is a safe person who will be helpful while you are working to heal? 6.How did you feel when Tina and Jennifer talked about potentially limiting time with unhealthy family members? 7.What were some signs Tina mentioned that can indicate a person is not willing to change? 8.How can recognizing this help you find the healthiest level of involvement with an individual more focused on casting blame than moving toward relational health?9.What is one action step God might be asking you to take after having listened to today’s content?
  1. Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions
  2. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  3. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  4. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  5. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram! Find Wholly Loved Ministries HERE.

*Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

ballerina with words from post

We can’t live like a queen while prancing through the pig sty, and make no mistake, you and I are royalty of incredible value. Realizing this, living in this truth, changes everything—our behavior, perceptions and interactions. This reality necessarily leads to freedom, just as surely as failure to grasp this truth results in slavery.

Years ago, our family opened our home to a young woman who hadn’t a clue who she was.

She believed she held no worth outside of her looks and whatever attention she gained from boys. She received what she sought, at least, on a surface level. Her phone constantly lit up with messages from young men who spoke charming words in the moment, only to use her. And though her friends bathed her in compliments, her emptiness remained.

What might you have done, had you been me? Corrected or rebuked her? Assigned harsh consequences designed to scare her into acting appropriately?

That’s often how we respond, to others and ourselves, when we fail to live as God desires. And while I understand, as parents or teachers, sometimes we must apply the stern hand of discipline. But I also know, from experience and Scripture, true change goes much deeper.

I’m convinced Christianity is less about becoming and more about unveiling who we truly are; who we were created to be. It’s like, prior to Jesus, we’ve all suffered from a case of mistaken identity. We’ve allowed all the voices of the world to confuse and define us, leaving us insecure and bruised. But as we draw closer to Christ, He whispers to our hearts, “That, my child, is not who you are, who I created you to be. You’re mine. You’re loved, fully and eternally. A creature of inexpressible value, hand-crafted in My image, to shine as a beautiful reflection of me.”

In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness …” In the original Hebrew, “Let us make mankind as Our shadow …”

When my daughter was young, she loved making her shadow dance and jump. When she skipped, her shadow did as well. It twirled as fast or as slow as she did, remaining, forever connected to her, the form it represented. The greater the light, the stronger and more defined her shadow. Similarly, as the light dimmed, her shadow faded.

In other words, we discover our truest selves not by chasing after success, accolades, or approval. To the contrary. That will only blur our edges and distort our true beauty. We find ourselves in the One who loves us, image of woman gazing toward the hills with a quote pulled from the postknows us, and called us to forever shadow Him.

The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, understood this. When speaking to the ancient Ephesians he recognized heir behaviors and weaknesses, absolutely. But he saw their Christ-centered identity first. God their Father had called them out of the pig sty and to Himself. And lest they feel tempted to prance back to the muck they’d once danced in, Paul reminded them, emphatically, “That is not who you are!”

He told them they were God’s holy people (v. 1). They were far from lacking, for they were abundantly blessed. They weren’t rejected or cast aside. To the contrary, they were chosen by the supreme Creator Himself. They were to shake off the memories of every slimy pit they’d once fallen into, for God had declared them holy and blameless, redeemed and forgiven.

That was their true identity. Their challenge, then, was to learn to live in that reality. They needed to learn to live in grace as children of grace.

We do as well, because identity changes everything, and Christ paid much too high a price for you and I to ever go tiptoeing through the pig sties again.

So how do we do this? By allowing God to change the way we think until our thoughts mirror His, because His thoughts always lead us toward His love and truth. He always leads us toward the absolutely best versions of ourselves. May we never accept the cheap substitutes our world tries to force upon us ever again.

If you’re struggling to live anchored in your true identity, you might find my conversation with Grace Fox in my sixth podcast episode, Moving Past the Fear of Insignificance helpful. You can find it HERE.

Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

Additional resources:

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

Reclaiming Our Identity, video presentation, session one in the Becoming His Princess Bible study.

Anchored and Secure: Sixty Days of Resting in Grace

Thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

 

 

 

We all want to hear from God. At least, many of us do. We want that special revelation, to receive that call, or perhaps the answer to that problem or decision we’ve been wrestling over. I’ve been in that place so many times, and I’m certain I’ll land there again. But while God indeed wants us to continually seek His guidance, His desire for us go so much deeper.

He wants our hearts. He wants us. All of us. And He wants us to want Him—more than His answers or solutions. When I’m in that place of wrestling, I have to ask myself, what do I want more? That “special word” from God or God to connect with God Himself?

And here’s what’s beautiful. When I seek God’s presence above all else, His guidance follows. In fact, His guidance becomes a part of me as He gently yet consistently molds my heart and will and transforms my thinking.

I hear Him most clearly when I lose myself in Him and make Him and Him alone my prize. What a tender, loving, and faithful Father He is! He draws me to Himself, invites me to worship, and then, in this context of love—love from Him to me and me to Him—He speaks. And in that moment of divine intimacy, all confusion, angst, and anxiety flee as confidence and courage well within.

He inspires me to do His will and empowers me for whatever’s ahead. This has always been His way.

The apostle Paul, perhaps the most effective and empowered missionary of all time, is a great example of this. You can read about his history and journeys in the book of Acts, but to paraphrase, while he was vehemently seeking to persecute God’s children, Christ intervened, transformed him, and ignited within him a new, life-giving passion to share the gospel.

That’s God’s call for all of us—to proclaim the power and reality of grace. But we each also have a more unique, more defined call as well, perhaps to mentor youth or write encouraging letters to shut-ins or teach Bible studies to young moms.

Some of you may have discovered how God wants to use you in this season, but perhaps you’re not quite certain. Maybe you’re in a period of waiting and God seems silent, and so you’re asking, maybe even begging, for Him to reveal your next steps. I get it. Those “blurry” periods can be difficult and painful, and in the waiting, we might be tempted to seek God’s call more than we seek Him—forgetting that He alone is the source of all that is good and hope-filled, fulfilling, and true. Forgetting that He is faithful to give us all we need, answers included, when we need it.

There’s a sense of rest, and power, displayed by those who get that, who’ve learned to consistently quiet themselves in God’s presence,  and to seek His presence above all. Paul exemplified this. “For me to live is Christ,” he wrote, “and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, NIV). It was from that sense of devotion, of connection, that he received his unique, history-changing call to share Christ with the Gentiles. Acts 13:2 tells us while the prophets and teachers at Antioch “were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them” (NLT).

In the middle of worship, God spoke.

That’s often how He interacts with us as well, because while, yes, He longs to guide us, He longs for us more.

There’s a sense of rest, and power, displayed by those who get that, who’ve learned to consistently quiet themselves in God’s presence, and to seek His presence above all. Paul exemplified this. “For me to live is Christ,” he wrote, “and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, NIV). It was from that sense of devotion, of connection, that he received his unique, history-changing call to share Christ with the Gentiles. Acts 13:2 tells us while the prophets and teachers at Antioch “were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (NIV).

In the middle of worship, God spoke.

That’s often how He interacts with us as well, because while, yes, He longs to guide us, He longs for us more.

Let’s talk about this! How do you connect with God? When do you tend to feel closest to Him? What are some ways you intentionally cultivate a relationship with Christ?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tell us how He’s brought you freedom, or what freedom means to you, and get entered to win an awesome prize bundle. Find out more HERE. And make sure to check out my latest Faith Over Fear podcast, The Courage to Draw Near to God. You can listen HERE.

Book discussion inviteI’d also love if you’d join me for an online book discussion on maria Furlough’s Breaking Free From Fear. Contact me HERE for more information.

Scripture used from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Grace quote on purple background

When I say or do something unkind, I love to claim grace for myself. But what about when others hurt or mistreat me? What about those moments when others behave as, well, flawed people in need of Jesus? How can I show them the same truth-and-grace-based love that Jesus shows me?

My guest today tackled this question, and the answer God led her to saved her marriage.

I Was Eaten Up by Discontent

By Kathy Collard Miller

By the time Larry and I had been married seven years, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t love me anymore. He was working two jobs, had a flying hobby and was never home. I certainly was home with a strong-willed two-year-old and a newborn. I never went anywhere but Larry chose to do everything he wanted, seemingly without any thought of me.

If only he would stay home and help me with these kids, I wouldn’t be angry all the time and we could be a happy family. But no matter how much I complained to him and demanded God change Larry, nothing happened. Even God has abandoned me, I concluded.

One morning Larry announced he would be gone flying the entire day. I said, “I’ll get the kids ready. We’ll go with…”

“Kathy, you can’t go. I rented a two-seater plane and Joe is going.”

“But Larry, you’re never home. You work too many hours. You…”

“Kathy, I’m working all those hours to secure our financial future. You just don’t appreciate all I’m doing.”

My face grew hot with fury. “Money isn’t helping me cope with these kids! I get so angry,” I snapped.

“Kathy, that’s just typical motherhood blues. You’ll be fine. See you later.”

Larry walked through the laundry room into the garage, closing the laundry room door behind him. I was eating an apple and hurled the half eaten apple toward the closing door. The apple shattered on impact and red and white apple pieces flew throughout the laundry room adhering to the ceiling and the walls. I whirled around and marched into my bedroom, dropping to kneel beside my bed. “Lord, make that plane crash! I don’t care if he ever comes home again.”

Larry’s plane didn’t crash, but I felt as if my life crashed into a pit of depression and fury fueled by discontentment.

During the following months, the pieces of apple rotted, adhered to the walls and ceiling of my laundry room. Every day I saw them as a memorial to my rotten marriage and my life, rehearsing every evidence of my disappointing life.

One day months later, I sensed God say to me in my heart, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked to hear God’s prodding. I didn’t love Larry and I believed he hated me—so I wasn’t about to give Larry ammunition against me. After all, if he heard those three little words, “I love you,” that I hadn’t said or thought for over two years, he might think I was approving of his negligence. I flatly refused.

God repeated the message and I refused again! Then I sensed the Holy Spirit giving a different message: “Then think it the next time you see Larry.”

  1. If he doesn’t hear me then he can’t use it against me. Then I’ll do it, even if it’s not true.

That evening, Larry returned from a flying trip. I stared at him, gulped, and thought, “I love you…” and then added, “but I don’t really.” Although I was obeying God, I still couldn’t believe it could ever be true.

I continued making that choice and God directed me to study Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who Phil 1:6 on purple backgroundbegan a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV). That helped me see I was demanding perfection from myself and from Larry. But just as God was patient with me in my journey of growth, I could be patient with Larry. He would never love me perfectly but God could. I realized my discontent was being fueled by my perfectionism.

What a difference. I began giving Larry credit for the simplest thing he did for us. I complimented him and refused to rehearse his faults. No longer did Larry feel like a failure who could never please me. In turn, he wanted to become more of a godly man. He changed jobs and didn’t have the money to fly. He choose to stay home more. We weren’t keeping track of the other’s failures. Little by little we grew in unconditional love and grace, the very opposite of discontent.

That was in 1978 and now, many years later, Larry and I continue to choose contentment by acknowledging the other’s loving choices and forgiving each other’s imperfections. We tell each other several times a day specifically how much we love and appreciate each other. We want God glorified through our story.

Let’s talk about this! How quick are you to offer others grace? Who is one person God might want you to actively show grace to today? What are some ways you’ve grown in this area? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s Bible reading plan, Resting in Grace. Find it HERE.

Get to know Kathy:

Kathy Miller's headshotKathy Collard Miller tells her story of overcoming being an angry mom and discontented wife in her book No More Anger: Hope for An Out-of-Control Mom (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.) She is also a speaker who has spoken in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US States. www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Learn more about her book, Hope for An Out-of-Control Mom:

How can I have hurt my own child? Why am I book cover for No More Angerso angry at my husband?

*What is it like to be in the heart and mind of an out of control mother?
*What is it like to hate yourself so much that you plan to take your own life?
*What is it like to believe God has given up on you and there is no hope?
*What is it like to see the emotional and physical pain you’re inflicting on your child?

The rest of the story …

*You’ll also learn what it’s like to see anger replaced by patience.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to overcome suicidal thoughts.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to know God never gives up on you.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to see healing in the lives of those you wounded.

Kathy Collard Miller tells the riveting true story of being an angry and abusive mother. At the same time, she was a Christian who prayed for an instantaneous deliverance of her deep-seated anger. God answered yes through a process of growth. He also healed her relationship with her husband.

Is ‘no more anger’ possible? Let Kathy’s story assure you through hope and God’s help, the answer is ‘Yes!’–Carol Kent, author, speaker.

Buy the book HERE.

***

Make sure to check out Jennifer Slattery’s latest podcast episode: Moving Past Fear of Exposure. We can live in hiding, in shame, or we can live in the confidence of grace. The former leads to isolation and loneliness. The latter to peace and increased relational intimacy with God and others.

You might also enjoy:

How to Stop Identifying With Your Sin by Jennifer on iBelieve

Holding Tight to Our Spouse as Christ Holds Tight to Us, also by Jennifer

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram and find her ministry, Wholly Loved, HERE.

Book discussion inviteMake sure to join her on Thursday evenings, starting April 23rd, for a faith-building book discussion aimed at helping us conquer our anxieties. Contact her HERE for more info!

 

 

Grace quote, teal writing, white background

You might not have recognized me, might even have tried to avoid me, had you met me in my teen years. I was a foul-mouthed, often drunk, angry and self-destructing kid. Then God began reaching deep into my heart, transforming and healing me bit by bit.

But though He shattered my chains of sin and heartache, through His grace, I hadn’t quite learned to step into that freedom. I hadn’t yet learned to live in my new identity—to allow His love and grace, and not my past or my shame to define me.

This was especially true when I behaved not as the redeemed daughter of Christ that I currently am but the bitter and sinful girl I’d once been. In those moments, and the regret that followed, I was tempted to believe that I still was that girl.

But that girl is dead and gone, never to return. For “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, Grace quote with gradiant green backgroundbut Christ who lives in me.” (Phil. 3:12).

No matter how I feel and regardless of the struggles I face, God’s precious, perfect Son lives in me.

I’ve heard it said, all sin is an identity problem. That statement’s too deep, too rich, to unpack here, but when I sin now, as a daughter of Christ, that’s certainly true. I’ve forgotten who I am and who I’m called to be. When I fight for my rights, it’s evidence that I forgot Christ saved me to die—because only in death can I truly live. When financial insecurity or fear of loss stirs ugly behaviors within me, it’s evidence that I’ve lost sight of my position as my Daddy’s girl. I’ve forgotten that I am indeed His child, and that He will indeed provide for me and meet my needs.

When I fight for that promotion, or that project, or that idea, thinking that thing will somehow fulfill me, I’ve forgotten that I’ve already received intimate interaction with the Creator and lover of my soul.

Regardless of whether I’m temporarily stuck in sin or shame, the answer is the same—grace. To meditate on God’s grace deeply and consistently. To regularly take time to remember the price He paid—for me. To contemplate what such an act revealed regarding His heart—for me. And to praise Him for the fact that I truly am free.

When I pause to reflect on the cross of Christ, my gratitude stirs within me a desire to live better. To live fully as the woman He created me to be. To grab hold of that for which Christ grabbed hold of me. (Philippians 3:12).

He died to set me free. I honor Him and the price He paid when I learn to live, daily and deeply, in that freedom.

If you’re struggling to anchor yourself in that place, in your Daddy’s heart, these verses might help:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV).

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, ESV).

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” (Colossians 1:21-22, ESV).

And make sure to check out our Wholly Loved’s Bible reading plan, available for free on the YouVersion Bible Reading App:

Grace Reading Plan ImageChrist’s grace has the power to change everything. We don’t have to strive, to compete, or compare, or question whether or not we measure up. We’re enough because Christ in us is enough. The cross of Christ sets us free.

I also invite you to listen to my latest podcast episode: Courage to Conquer our Fear of Missing Out. Find it HERE.