Confidence was something I thought God would teach me a lottt differently than He did. I thought I would have confidence when I woke up one day and God had miraculously blessed me with 3ft mermaid hair and I would look in the mirror and see Gigi Hadid’s face, but confidence is alllll about who God is and who I am in Him, and pa-raisssse Jesus that it is.
Confidence is something we all struggle with now and again in every stage, no matter your age, gender, or walk of life. It’s always on the table because it manifests in different ways like appearances, identity, and relationships. And if you’re trying to find who you are and search for the answer in yourself, you’re never going to find the key to being confident in your own skin.
It took me years and years of self-hatred, self-reliance, social anxiety from identity crisis, and terrible eyeliner to come to this little place of just getting a tiny idea understanding confidence.
I went through stages of thinking “if I only had ___ [some kind of physical appearance] I’ll be beautiful and confidant”. Let me give you a spoiler alert on that one: never happened and never will get solved that way. The abusive relationship I had been in left me thinking:
a. he wouldn’t have hurt or used me if I was pretty or valuable
b. I have nothing to offer and no one will want me after what he took from me
and c. Figuring out how to become gorgeous is the only thing that will make me sure of who I am and make me satisfied in life.
If I knew how to articulate in writing the sound a buzzer makes on Wheel of Fortune when someone guesses the wrong phrase, I would insert that right here. I quickly learned that a, b, and c are all complete lies that we’re making me absolutely miserable. I spent a bazillion dollars on hair extensions, eyelash extensions, make-up and retail therapy using my “If I only look this way” theory. After a year that left me exhausted from trying my own bad advice, I finally realized what was happening and knew I needed to try a new route to confidence. I knew the Jesus-ey, Hobby Lobby-inspirational pillow solution was to get to “find my identity in God.” I do really love Jesus and Hobby Lobby is like my favorite store, but I was so over cliche, Christian fluff that I didn’t understand. How do you actually “find your identity in God”? What are the actual steps? I needed someone to just write a list and make me a Google docs slideshow of what I needed to do. I prayed and prayed and God just told me, plain and simple, to get to know Him. If I wanted to be sure of who I was I needed to be sure, first and foremost, of who He is.
If you’re struggling with confidence or need an encouragement boost today, I gotchu boo.
These are the simple but powerful things that helped me get out of my head and into getting to know Jesus.
Getting to know why God is and what His character is, is the only thing that will ever help you be confident in your skin. Without God’s love, faithfulness, and hope of everlasting life, we ultimately have no purpose. Without God’s gifts and blessings, we would have nothing. All of our abilities and talents are from the Lord. As a believer and follower of Jesus, I love my life to serve Him, so I really have to know the foundations of Him to be sure of my identity and purpose in life. The best and easiest ways to get to know him are through prayer and reading His Word. Prayer is just coming before God and talking to Him, so chat with God, outloud, silently, in a note, in a letter, just talk to Him. You can’t go on a date and get to know your tinder pick without starting up a conversation, so go on a date with Jesus to get to know what He is all about. The Bible is another awesome way to understand a little bit of God. The gospels are a great way to get to know Jesus, through the narrative of His life. The Old Testament speaks a lot about God the Father’s loving, faithful, kind, powerful, and graceful personality, and shows how He is such a good Father to us. The New Testament, Acts and onwards, is focused a lot on the Holy Spirit and how He [as part of the Trinity] is all about giving us the wisdom, calling, and conviction that God wants for us, and shows how important it is to God to empower His people to be emboldened to share His love with others. If you get to know God and your life is entrusted to Him, you will be so much more confudent yourself.
When God was teaching me confidence, He put confident women all around in my life. Family, friends, co-workers, and mentors in my life to show me how it’s done. The women that mentored me showed my through guidance and wisdom how to be confident in God and showed me what confidence looks like in everyday life. I went on a missions trip with co-workers and the was blessed to learn from one of the most confident, strong, bold women I’ve ever met who taught me to fierceness love Jesus, follow without fear, ask lots of questions, and don’t be off-put or discouraged when you get asked a lot of questions. A dear, super sweet, super gorgeous, super wise cousin taught me how to work with Jesus through the out of control, downward spiral, want to dye my hair blue crisis kind of moments, and also how to bravely and responsibly be accountable for mistakes and learn from them. She helped me see the constructive side of criticism. A really hard, but really effective tone of growth came from getting fired from my ultimate ministry dream-job. It was full of mistakes and learning, but it made me fall so hard on Jesus and so deeply into His identity. These are just a few shiny gem stories in 21 years of the bad, ugly, and missing-the-point, ultra-low confidence moments, but the Lord used them to change my life.
Satan loves to strip down our identities, dredge up the past, and make our future’s seem blurry and wildly terrifying. If he can make you obsess over appearance, interactions with others, what people are saying, and fear of the future, he can take away some of the plans and work God has for you. You can be a gorgeous, mermaid, supermodel of a person who only dresses in Dolce and Gabonna evening gowns, but if you start obsessing over your physical features or the mistake you made 4 years ago, you’re confidence is shot. No amount of self-help or hair extensions will repair an identity crisis. God doesn’t look at anyone and see the labels they put on themselves from failures, bad choices, good or bad appearances, or past mistake. God looks at a person and sees the label that Jesus has covered them in; if you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior, know you’re saved by grace through faith, and it is not of yourself but a gift of God, not by your works but the saving grace of Jesus’s death and resurrection, God looks at you and sees a forgiven, free, and fiercely loved child of God. Your mistakes are things that God can work through and heal through His grace, not labels that define who you are.
When Satan throws you know what and it all hits the fan, throw a whole lot of identity right back in his face. If he brings up anything about who you are, what you look like, what you are like, what you did, what you didn’t do, and what is to come, get up, get loud, and say
“I am nothing but a child of God, so do not tell me I am anything else.”
There are no words that will give you more confidence than those. Rebuke Satan right out of your day, out of your house, and out of your identity. If Satan brings up your past, bring up his future, and your hopeful, Jesus-filled one.
Confidence comes from the free gift of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10
Confidence comes from knowing God designed you, made you, and loves you.
Confidence comes from knowing that when you mess up and make mistakes and sin recklessly, God will never leave you, forsake you, or say I’m done. Confidence comes from knowing that God will never grow tired of you, but always welcome you home with open arms.
Romans 8:1; John 10:28, John 3:16; Romans 6:23;
When you’re absolutely sure of who He is, you will be absolutely sure of who you are, in Him, and you will never feel more relieved, at home, at peace, and confident about everything there is to who God made you to be, and the blessed assurance of His love.
Let's start off with a precursor: the past few years have been no joke. They were ugly, anxious, and made me feel like I forgot how to be me. I wanted so badly to be a new, shiny penny with great lashed and a super high, peppy ponytail, but no amount of lash extensions and mascara changes a broken, not-feeling-so-hot spirit. I thought it's now or never to try another way to heal from everything that's happened, so I jumped into 2017 head first. I figured the way I had been trying to figure life out only made it worse, and I wasn’t getting any better. That, plus my self-cure retail therapy in the Target makeup aisle clearance section was going to run me bankrupt, which led me to realize:
a. I needed so much Jesus, and I had to commit hardcore to figuring it out all His way
and b. I had a surplus of target makeup and I needed to watch a lot of YouTube tutorials on eye makeup.
One night in February, after a lot of tears, sleepless nights, panic attacks, and Pretty Little Liars re-runs, I was tapped out. I got invited to a ministry dinner with the team I was interning for, and the meeting was held in honor of a pastor from Uganda. I had met him a few times before and had heard him preach, but this meeting with him was completely different, and thank you Jesus for that. He gave a talk and started off with a prayer and an invitation for the group to pray individually and for us to ask God to take away the pains and burdens that we were carrying around. I prayed a prayer that I had prayed a thousand times before, but I realized something that I had never understood in three years of sexual abuse recovery; I had been dredging around so much pain with me. I carried so many memories that I wanted to forget, broken friendships, and a heart that felt lonely and isolated because of what had happened. But the Holy Spirit started speaking to my heart and just kept on preaching to me a message of letting go and being okay with not knowing what was going to happen next. I realized, through God speaking through this pastor and listening to the prayers of healing that he was speaking, that in order to start fresh and jump back in, I had to give God the ugly stuff that I had been carrying around. Sounds like a message you've heard a billion times, right? The part that was new was that the Lord showed me that I wasn’t letting go because I had become so comfortable with fear hurt that I was afraid to get rid of it. I knew heartbreak, it was familiar and known, but whatever else there was, after I let it go, was completely unknown. It sounds absolutely crazy, and I can’t explain it anymore than it was a new world that I was afraid to jump into, and all those years I hadn’t even realized that’s why I couldn’t just "Let go and let God'. I was so afraid to be in the place of pain I had been before, I was okay with settling for heartbreak, because I didn't want to experience anything worse than the terrible pain that I already carried everyday, But God's plan is so much greater, bigger, and special than settling for unresolved pains and hurts. We don't serve a living God who says, "settle". We serve a living God who saw us in sin and hopelessness and sent us His only son to be saved by grace, through faith, so we didn't have to settle for a life of pointlessness, sin that defined us, and eternal life separated from Him. He is not a God of settling. Our God is a God who says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. " Matt 11:28. I look back now and think what in the world was I thinking, but I remember how much God's grace and transformational love has changed me in a year. The abusive relationship I was in left me afraid of everything; I was afraid to sleep, afraid of being alone, afraid to have another relationship, afraid more friends wouldn't believe me, and some days I was even afraid to go outside. But when I finally said "I'm letting go and I'm giving you the fears and pains I'm carrying around" God started to transform everything about me. I felt like I got the person I was before "back" and God blessed me with new things that I never had before. He gave me wonderful, strong, godly women in my life who lead me by example, opportunities to travel around the world, stronger relationships, and so many valuable life lessons.
2017 was a year of freedom. It was a year of traveling everywhere, making new friends, visiting old ones, being bold, making mistakes, learning, and feeling hope, passion, and a fierceness to serve God. The Lord replaced my settling with wonderful blessings only He can provide. 2017 wasn't without tears, meltdowns, sleepless nights, or mistakes, but it was a year spent free from being trapped by those things.
At the beginning of last year, I decorated my room with photos and watercolors, and I'm obsessed with this store at Disneyland that has these adorable, little artist rendition, Disney cards. So, I saved the $55 Disneyland tax and painted a super cute, little card with the tower from Rapunzel on it. [I know, 75 people just checked out from reading this, but stay with me here👌] It sounds ridiculous to relate myself to a blonde, Disney character whose best friend is a lizard, but I kept the card hanging up because I felt like that. I felt like I was trapped. I felt hopeless, like I could see the world around me, but wasn't apart of it, and I just wanted to jump out. And for me, 2o17 was finally saying "I'm ready", and jumping out. 2017 was the best year of my life because of God's freedom, and because He got me to jump out, I'm ready for 2018 because now that I have freedom, I want to use it.
Have a blessed 2018 full of God's freedom.
By Jody Hurst:
Simple True/False Quiz to help you clarify your own thoughts and understand if your support or nonsupport of "take a knee" is tied to whether you agree with the message of the athlete:
a. I support NFL Players who take a knee who are protesting unfair treatment of minorities in the US. (T/F)
b. I would support NFL Players who take a knee because they are trying to send a message that their taxes are too high, and shouldn't go to social welfare programs. (T/F)
c. I would support Tim Tebow's decision to take a knee at his next game in order to honor the 45 million babies who have been killed since Roe v. Wade. (T/F)
d. I would support a player's decision to take a knee after a hypothetical President said something despicable about police, which the player felt contributed to the murder of a police officer in his home town.(T/F)
If you answered True to all four, you're being consistent. You support a player's right to protest, regardless of the cause. Good for you. You win a pretend gold star.
If you answered True to only (a), you are agreeing with the current message of unfair treatment of minorities, and not simply the right of the protest action. There's nothing inherently wrong with inconsistency, just be aware of it.
If you answered True to any of (b), (c), or (d) but false to (a), then you, too, are being inconsistent. You are disagreeing with the message of the current NFL players, and not with their method of protest.
If you answered false to all four, you are being consistent. You believe no player has a right to protest by taking a knee, regardless of the reason he does so. You also win a pretend gold star.
It's finally here! Some amazingly brave women have stepped up to write and share their stories of survival, pain, healing, and redemption through Christ. The work Christ is doing through each of these women is incredible. Read and share the project to get the word out! God is going to do amazing things with each and every one of these incredible people.
I am an eyelash lover. Like hardcore, to the end, forever and ever eyelash lover, I love them more than a person should love eyelashes.
But, the joy of my life, my beloved lash extensions, gave me an eye infection. Basically the ultimate betrayal.
For a few weeks, it's been an eyelash horror movie over here. I finally woke up the other day with my eyes swollen shut and I decided that is was maybe a good time to see a doctor so I could do things I enjoy doing again, like opening my eyes. It was a long day at the doctor's office, and it just turned into one of those days . I had work I needed to do, some prep for some upcoming events, and I had just gotten back the day before from a trip, so I was not a happy camper. Amidst Pinteresting [and worrying about the work I wasn't doing because I was on Pinterest], the thought occurred to me that maybe I should pray since I'm so stressed, Three seconds later I thought, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, I am way too busy. Too much on my brain. Seriously, there is so much going on and I need to pin these vegan cupcakes on my cupcake board, despite the fact I'm not vegan. No thanks Jesus, I don't have time in my stressful rage, thank you very much. The little boy in the next room just dropped his sucker and he sounds pretty upset, so, maybe you should go check up on him."
Let's rewind to two days before this when me, in all my wisdom about prayerfulness, had been giving one of my friends advice about prayer I whipped out all the fancy Christian vocabulary on her I included was how important fellowshipping with God was, how it's impactful to your Christian walk to have real time with Jesus, the whole nine Jesus-loving yards. So after I had a little reality check for Carl time, it made a bit more sense that God who holds the universe and the perfect will of all humanity in his hands, would probably be able to help me out with some swollen eyes and a big to-do list.
Prayer is one of those things needs to be everyone's first resort whenever anything happens, but it's usually the thing that we all save until the end when nothing else works out. And then we go through the, "well, I guess I'll pray then since you didn't give me what I want Jesus. And Pinterest-ing my future wedding didn't solve my problems so. Let's talk I guess." thing. But there never is really a "good" excuse for not praying. It's something you can literally do anytime anywhere at any point. It's talking directly to God. When you think about it, it's a no-brainer why we should do it all the day long, but it's a struggle for everyone. You can't be too busy to pray, and thank God He is so loving that He's never too busy to hear you.
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Luke 6:12, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
In honor of that, Waking up to Real is going to be starting a project that I am so excited about. It's called The Real Truth Project. Because of my own story, God has really been challenging me with finding a way to share it. I've also been looking to figure out a way to better equip the church with a way to help those who have been hurt by sexual abuse, so I thought of an idea to start The Real Truth Project. There are so many people who have been hurt by sexual abuse. I want people to hear the real stories and learn how to help other people through hearing. Who better to learn from than the actual people who have walked through it?
This project will be real stories, written by the real women who survived. At the end of the month, all of the stories will be shared together here on the blog. There will be a separate page and sub-page for everyone's story. I know that God can use anything to glorify Himself, and I pray that this project can be used to comfort those hurting, empower those who don't have a voice, and educate those who don' t know. Even if it is just a little post on a little blog, I pray that even just one person feels encouraged and not alone.
Keep the Real Truth Project in your prayers and check back on April 30th to see the Real Truth Project Published. ❤
Today, I had the wonderful opportunity today to hear the stories of refugees from all over the Middle East through an organization called Voices of Refugees. VOR is an organization that provides services to refugees when they arrive in the U.S. They teach ESL, provide transportation, education, job services, and assist in many other helpful and important ways to provide their needs.
If you aren't sure about what's been happening in the Middle East, this is a great, comprehensive timeline that helped me understand: http://www.historyguy.com/list_of_wars_middle_east.html
Basically, since 2006, there has been a war in the Middle East which had affected a multitude of countries. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and other surrounding areas. A lot of countries are affected, not just from the war but other issues politically, economically, and religiously. So, for the past ten years and previous to that, refugees are and have been seeking a safe place to move. A large population have traveled, and continues to travel, to/through Europe and to North America.
The stories I heard are incredible. Everyone we had the opportunity to speak to came to America after the war started. They all came here with no knowledge of English and no international licenses. They all had no idea if the family and friends they were leaving in their home countries would even be alive when they reached America. Two of the four refugees we spoke to now work for VOR.
It was so helpful to hear people's stories first hand, personally from them, because of all of the misinformation and assumptions the media makes. The first man we talked to gave us incredible advice. He told us "When you meet these people, offer to help them and be there for them. If you are rude and selfish then they will say 'I don't want the Jesus they have if He's anything like that. "You can't teach people to love. There is no class to take to learn how to love people". Let me tell you, I did not know I was going to church today 🙌So. Good.You can't just take a class and learn how to be a model of Jesus's love. It's a lifestyle. It's a choice you make everyday. It's so important for us to learn who Jesus is so we can imitate his love. And the first step to that is crossing the cultural, societal, religious, bridges and hearing people's stories. We have to listen, learn, and see people for ourselves, not make assumptions and judgements about people we don't even know. You can't love people from the other side of the bridge.
The rest of the stories we heard were heartbreaking. The devastation and loss was immense. I heard things I would have never known if I wasn't there, sharing a meal, sitting across the table with my new friends. Being there gave me an empathy I could have never gotten from watching the news or reading a paper.
When you cross the bridge, you say no to fear. You stop allowing Satan to distance you from people because you are afraid of the unknown. You stop letting labels and differences separate you from people who are just like you. You start to realize that God's love is for everyone, and you can only deliver it once you get to the other side of the bridge.
This past Friday, I had the great experience of visiting a mosque. I didn't know really what to expect when I jumped on the bandwagon. The wheels in my head were turning more in the direction of "this will be a cool thing to check off my cultural immersion list", which it totally was, but it was a very special and eye-opening day.
I went with a group, and we showed up for an afternoon service. The mosque has a dress code, so the women have to cover their arms, legs, and heads, and the men are required to wear pants and sleeves. The women don't enter through the main doors, so we entered through a door in the side that took us up to a tiny room upstairs. There's a little area to take your shoes off in, and then all of the women and children sit in a smaller, carpeted balcony area. There was a screen so they could watch the Imam preach downstairs and there was a glass on one side that overlooked the men sitting downstairs. The floor in the service areas was just like a normal carpet but, but lines that form a little carpet square for each person to sit and pray at, that all together sort of make a giant grid.
Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca, so the carpet squares were all at an angle facing in that direction. Upstairs where we sat, the women sat in the front, closest to the screen that was streaming the sermon downstairs, in an area that was roped off. Behind the roped area sat young boys from a Muslim school that came for the service, and behind them sat the little girls.
I'll be honest, I made a lot of assumptions and judgements before I got there, that really had no basis, so I thought everyone would be really standoffish to our group. But God used the kindness of those around me to remind me the dangers of assuming and judging people I've never even met. Everyone was so kind to us and super welcoming. A really nice woman welcomed us showed us where to sit, and she sat with us and explained the prayers to us. Everyone invited us to ask any questions we had.
I had a lot of ideas, that I really just made up in my head, about what the inside of the mosque would look like, but the inside was actually really similar to a non-denominational Christian church. The walls were a tan color and besides the windows and chandeliers, the only things that was really inside were some bookcases, chairs, and a prayer clock.
After the service the Imam was very nice and gave us a tour. He answered all of our questions and encouraged us to ask more. It was interesting to hear his story and hear how he got where he is today.
It was so important for me to see how dangerous it is to make decisions and assumptions based off of the fear of the unknown. Jesus wasn't afraid of the people who were unlike Him; He crossed the cultural bridges and ignored the labels that society gave to others and met those people where they were to love them. Jesus got to know people, he sat with them, ate with them, listened to their stories.
That is the kind of ministry we need to lead as Christians. We need to cross the bridges. We need to meet people where they are, hear their stories, learn about their cultures, appreciate them. We need ignore the lies the world tells about people without even getting to them and get to know people for ourselves.
If you have questions about any group of people, talk to them, visit them, become friends with them.
You can't love people who you haven't met..