When Tangling Words Catch You Off Guard

You’re in for a treat this week, friends! My friend Carey Scott is our guest blogger today, and I love her immensely for many reasons. She’s always a breath of fresh air in my life with her honesty and wisdom, and Carey lives so authentically that she makes me feel brave enough to do the same.

I know you’re going to adore her, so welcome Carey!

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“Are you saying no because of your weight?”

Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say they words they do.

Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”

In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do what ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that I’m still so easily tangled.

Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity doesn’t knot us up anymore?

The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree. I’ve known Jesus for most of my life and have seen Him heal my heart more times than I can remember. I know what the Bible says about how much God loves me. I believe that He created me on purpose with purpose. I am a Biblical Life Coach, and speak and write about issues surrounding a woman’s self-esteem.

I know the worth I hold to my Creator, yet here I am again questioning my beauty. My value. My significance.

The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave. Because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough. Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.

So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Can I still pull off that little black dress even when things jiggle and wiggle a bit more? Do my opinions and ideas matter?

We want to know that we have contributed to the world in significant ways. We want to know that we are important. We want to know that we’re beautiful in our own way, and that others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable. So when a careless comment tightens a tangle that’s already been tightened around our heart—a tangle that makes us feel unlovable or unworthy—it can leave us feeling less than.

Here’s where it gets so frustrating. I had an expectation of growing out of those insecurities. I assumed that once I was well into my adult years, the need for worldly acceptance and approval would go away and I wouldn’t be so easily tangled by the same old people and the same stupid situations. And while some of my insecurities aren’t as easily triggered as before, words still hurt. So when she made the comment about my weight being what kept me from the ice cream desert, I felt those familiar less than lies flood back into my heart.

But here is the good news…God looks at us differently. He doesn’t measure our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick.  God values us simply because we’re His. Here’s proof: “You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.”  (Luke 16:15 GNT)

In other words, the world is wrong—plain and simple. And because of that, we can’t allow society’s standard of what is worthy of love and adoration be our truth. We just can’t listen to it anymore.

Sweet friend, here is my challenge to you:

… Ask the Lord to untangle the expectation that you must earn the love and approval of others.

… Let Him heal those places where words have hurt you by replacing them with His truth.

… Ask God to loosen the knots of insecurity that make you feel unimportant and insignificant.

… And live in the freedom that you were created on purpose and hold immeasurable value to your Heavenly Father.

Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. So when someone questions why we’re skipping desert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!

careyCarey Scott is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and the freedom she now has through Jesus. She is also an international speaker who loves to have honest conversations about real life. She discusses the struggles women face the most, always reminding them of their immeasurable value. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more by visiting CareyScottTalks. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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Episode #15: Finding the Beautiful in Messy Situations

 

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Cheri and Amy process last week’s interview with Sheila Wray Gregoire through the lens of conflict and no-black-and-white circumstances.

It turns out that messy doesn’t mean ugly. There is redemption and positive personal change that happens when we face the natural complications of life instead of ducking them. Click on the graphic to listen.

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I also had the chance to guest post on my friend Rachel Britton’s blog this week…

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It was an epic story filled with conflict, mystery, and suspense, but it wasn’t a story just told for our entertainment. It was a true story– with God as the hero.

Our little band of women from Proverbs 31 Ministries sat in a small room in India filled with women who faithfully attended the literacy class led by Mission India. One after another, women in the class shared the stories of God’s presence in their lives.

Only months before, these same women didn’t know that God loved them. They didn’t realize that they were valuable and created in His image. They didn’t recognize the work that God was doing on their behalf.

Prayer was changing their lives and their perceptions.

Click here to read the rest.

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Letting Our Children Stumble (and Grow from It)

 

You all have been hearing from me a lot during the book study, and I wanted to give you a chance to hear some other voices from women who I both love and admire. They all have messages I know you’ll want to soak in deeply, so I’ll give them the spotlight through September.

You’ve heard her voice with me on Grit ‘n’ Grace, but I wanted to give you a written dose of my brilliant and fun friend, Cheri Gregory. Please welcome Cheri!

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I swore I would never be an “After all I’ve done for you …” kind of mother who burdened her children with guilt.

I just wanted to be a loving mom who did nice things for her children.

Until I did nice things for them, and they failed to react with smiles of gratitude, that is. Or, worse yet, acted grumpy or upset, which was decidedly not in my plan.

I wanted to do nice things for my children so they would be happy … or at least that’s the story the People-Pleasing Bully told me. But with People-Pleasing running the show, it was impossible to tell truth from fiction.

It’s taken me years to realize that I didn’t care so much if my kids were happy. I did nice things for them mainly because I could not tolerate them being upset. I needed them to seem okay so I could feel okay.

When they weren’t happy, I didn’t want what was actually best for them. I wanted, and did, whatever would cause my own upset, triggered by their upset, to abate.

Thus, all the “favors” I did them. Thus, my resentment and bitterness. Thus, both my children floundering after they left home. All my “niceness” actually set them up for failure to launch.

I truly did not think of myself as a “helicopter parent” or “smother mother” or “stalker mom” during their high school years. But I was all of these. I jumped in to help too quickly. I didn’t let them fall flat on their faces. I didn’t let them pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and figure out what had happened let alone how to prevent it in the future.

Instead, I meddled, rushing in to cushion each fall.

My reasons were understandable: I had experienced inappropriate pain and disappointment as a child and a teenager, so I was determined to keep my children from suffering as I had. But in protecting them from the inappropriate pain and disappointment, I went overboard and tried to protect them from all pain and disappointment.

While my kids were in high school, I thought that my “involvement” would produce wonderfully high GPAs that would snag scholarships that would launch strong college careers.

I was wrong.

What happened is that both my kids snagged thousands of dollars worth of scholarships but lost them all during their first year. Both were kicked out of the Honors Program.

Why?

I’d created the nice illusion that all they had to do was show up, be their wonderful selves, and everything else would just happen. My daughter sank into a depression her freshman year when she discovered that, on her own, she could not figure out how to keep clean laundry in her drawers, let alone stay on top of homework, let alone keep the GPA to maintain her scholarships and remain in Honors. Jonathon, already an introvert, retreated into gaming for similar reasons.

I now wish they’d spent their final two years of high school as dorm students at the Christian boarding academy where I teach, instead of living at home. Getting away from me would have fostered greater independence. They would have learned many life skills and gained the maturity that comes from not having their own way all the time.

Yes, I would have missed them. But my job wasn’t to hold onto them as long as possible or keep them as comfortable as I could. My job was to facilitate their maturity and autonomy. Had I focused on that long-range goal, they would have been spared unnecessary pain and struggle their freshmen and sophomore years of college.

But People-Pleasing never let me think beyond the present. People-Pleasing kept me hyper-vigilantly alleviating the immediate discomfort of each moment. So when they struggled during their freshman year of college, I blamed them for wasting our money.

Because, of course, after all I’d done for them …

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As God’s been leading me on this journey of breaking up with Perfect, I’ve found that Galatians 1:10 applies to all my relationships, including (and sometimes especially!) my relationships with my children:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

Pleasing God means breaking my snowplow parent habits of clearing the path in front of my kids. It means learning to let them experience necessary growing pains rather than protecting them, and myself, from discomfort. It means that I no longer work so hard to avoid disappointment but trust God to carry my children—and me—through through it.

And it means trading my “After all I’ve done for you…” martyr attitude for an intentional focus on all He’s done for us and is still doing in us.

Cheri Gregory Head ShotCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She speaks and writes from the conviction that “how-to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Her goal is to equip women to relate and create with less drama, more delight.

Cheri is the co-author ofThe Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and the upcoming Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.

Cheri blogs about breaking free from perfectionism and people-pleasing, and being an HSP* at www.CheriGregory.com. She also co-hosts a podcast called Grit ’n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules with Amy Carroll.  (*Highly Sensitive Person) Leave a comment today to win Cheri’s great giveaway set: A copy of The Cure for a Perfect Life,  Braver Living Bible verse set image, “Brave” necklace image. 

Brave NecklaceCPL 3D SquareBraver Living Bible verse cards

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Episodes #13 and #14

While I was out of town, two new episodes of Grit ‘n’ Grace aired. You won’t want to miss these, so click the graphics below to listen to the show, access great free downloads, and enter the giveaway. 🙂

Episode #13:

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Cheri and Amy discuss the hard but important work of developing new ways to develop greater happiness.

As they examine their own happiness habits (and their opposites!), gratitude, hope, and choosing the positive emerge as ways to break out of the rut of our default to unhappy.

Episode #14:

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For most reforming perfectionists, peace seems like the ultimate goal no matter how it’s attained.

Sheila Wray Gregoire shares that true peace is often attained through painful conflict. She helps us to understand the difference between conflict and fighting.

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Monday Moments on Tuesday: Some Final Thoughts

Today is the very last day of our online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect, and I really can’t believe it’s over! When I started dreaming about this project months ago, I was completely overwhelmed thinking about the amount of work and hours it would take to put it together.

Can I tell you the truth on the other side?

Every hour I invested… all the brain cells I’ve strained… each and every one of the words I’ve typed…

The joy you’ve given me as you’ve joined me in breaking up with perfect has exceeded any investment I’ve made on my end! It’s TRUE!

That’s the way it always works in God’s Kingdom because we can never out-give God. Whatever we invest is multiplied.

I ended my book with the picture from Revelations 7 of every nation, tribe and tongue gathered around God’s throne. What a thought! For those of us who have followed Jesus, we’ll be in that throng. I can’t wait for that day because in that throng will also be my friends from my trip in India.

As our last challenge, I want to leave you with a little video I made. It’s a new snapshot (the first one is in Breaking Up with Perfect) of four spiritual generations.

Your challenge is to start today dreaming of your own spiritual generations. Break up with perfect, and open your life. Start with one woman. Invest your all in her and teach her to do the same. And then let’s all plan to meet–to pick a spot to get together– in the throng in front of Jesus, the Savior who has given us all so that our investment is eternal!

(Or click here to watch.)

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Today is the last day of my online study, but another one is starting even as we end. UninvitedLysa TerKeurst’s newest book, is the next Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study. I’m excited about this study for lots of reasons:

  • It’s a life-changing book for those of us who have wrestled with rejection–and who hasn’t?!
  • Lysa and our OBS team are some of my favorite people in the whole wide world.
  • The trip to India was Lysa’s vision, and she has invested to fund 300 of next year’s literacy students for Mission India. Do you see the man directly to my right in the video? He is actually the project manager for one of Lysa’s projects. How about that wonderfulness!
  • Last but not least… I got to be part of one of the OBS videos for this study! I’m thrilled, and I can’t wait for you to see it. It’s a special project that you’re going to want to be part of– an investment that multiplies.

Don’t miss out! Click here to sign up for the Uninvited OBS today.

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Thursday Thrills: A To-You List

Last week during our Facebook Live time in the private group, my friend Carol Byrd talked about a list that actually gives her life rather than sucking the life right out of her. She calls it her To-You List. Brilliant!

As our last free download for Thursday Thrills, here’s a special graphic to get your juices going on your own To-You List.

To-You List

You can download and print this graphic by clicking on the picture above.

**Special Scheduling Note to our Online Book Study group**– The study was scheduled to end Monday,September 5, so there will be no Facebook Live that night. If you missed the last video, you can go back to our page and watch it any time.

Because I have a Proverbs 31 devotion that is scheduled for Monday, I’ll do our last group blog post on Tuesday instead. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

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Jennifer Dukes Lee talks about ideas from her newest book, The Happiness Dare, that challenge our church girl preconceptions about happiness.

She helps Cheri and Amy answer questions we all have like:

  • Does God want me to be happy?
  • Do I have to act happy when I’m sad?
  • Why do I find happiness in things that other people don’t?

It’s really ok—click on the graphic above to listen and increase your happiness quotient today!

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Monday Moments: How to Do Hard Things When You Think You Can’t

True Confession Time: I like things to be easy. I’ve even believed that things should be easy– that if something is God’s will, then it will be easy.

Most Americans believe this lie.

Indian believers know better. They follow Jesus in the hard places of hate, beatings, shunning, and jailing. One leader for Mission India told us,

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He lives in the area of India where Christians experience the most hardship and persecution. It’s the heartland of India, and it’s home to more unreached people groups than any other part of the world. 60% of Christians there face some kind of persecution, some of it severe. “Freedom of religion laws” which are actually anti-conversion laws force Christians to be very careful about sharing the freedom found in Jesus. Baptism is banned and has to be done in secret.

Hmmm… And I get upset when somebody sends me an email that throws me off kilter.

As my youngest son likes to say, “First world problem, mom.” Yep.

We want easy, but our spirit responds to the hard things the Spirit gives us.

How do we do the hard things when our flesh cries out for easy? We have to refine our motives to one thing.

Too often my motives are mixed with ambition, with a look-at-me attitude, with pride, with a desire to impress others or gain approval. Any of that resonate with you? My thoughts reveal my mixed motives, and I’m not the only one. Here are some ways some of my Facebook friends know they’re off track:

  • “When you start to serve with the thoughts of others having to serve you in return”
  • “When you start to compare your work or load to someone else’s.”
  • “When I expect people to notice and mention all that I do.”
  • “When it becomes a duty instead of a joy.”

Oh, ouch. Me too!

We have to refine our motives down to one– love.

What looks like service is vanity when the motive is other than love.

How do we serve with joy? How do we do hard things when we think we can’t? We ask God to purify our hearts to a singular driving motive… LOVE.

That’s what I saw in India as I watched the believers do their work. That’s what I want in my life too, because persecution, or doing hard things, doesn’t diminish joy. It increases it. Check out this little snapshot of brave leaders worshiping:  (Click here if you’re a subscriber).

I say to myself and to you… Choose hard things. Do them with great love. Increase your joy.

To learn more about the persecution and hardships Indian believers face so that you can pray:

  • “Like” Mission India’s Facebook page by clicking here.
  • Sign up for daily prayer prompts via email by clicking here. I have signed up for this, and I absolutely LOVE it! It honestly takes me about 30 seconds to read the prayer prompt and pray it. Big impact with little time!
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Thursday Thrills: You’re Right Where You’re Supposed to Be


In Monday’s blog post, I shared about a grace for our place, and I wanted to give you a graphic that shows you that God’s Word backs that idea.

Acts 17-26

You can download this picture and print it by clicking on the graphic above.

As an extra resource, I want to share a ministry that I love founded by a woman I adore. Amy Lively runs How to Love Your Neighbor ministries which is rich with resources about how to reach out to your neighbors.

Since we’ve been talking about both building community and serving, I wanted to give you a place where you can find tangible ways to live that way in your own neighborhood. Click here to visit How to Love Your Neighbor’s site.

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How to Deal with a Difficult Person

What do you do when someone’s perfectionism is driving you around the bend? When the relationship is about to end?

Valuing perfection over people shatters relationships. Join Amy and me as we tease out practical solutions for being on both the giving and receiving end of relationship-eroding perfection.

Click on the graphic above to listen. (And don’t miss the terrific FREE download “Curious Questions to Ask to Keep Perfectionism from Taking Control”.)

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Monday Moments: Grace for Where We’re Placed

The first day we visited a community with a literacy class I cried on the way home from our visit, and I cried as I talked to my roomie that night. My heart was broken, and I couldn’t muster up hope for the women I had met.

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Yes, there were glimpses of hope– a class where women were learning to read, to do simple math and to improve their way of life. Another woman who was tailoring with a sewing machine given as a wedding present, setting an example for other women in the community. There were also the irresistible, bright-eyed children that raised our spirits being brought up by their survivor-mamas.

But there was no doubt that for now, these women were trapped in the mire of poverty. In their desperation, they worked long hours and left tiny children home alone. They lived in homes where hygiene was an unknown luxury. They struggled with sickness and hunger and the pain of abuse.

Before we left the literacy class that that would culminate in two months, the women had asked the leaders with us, “What’s next?”

I wondered the same thing. What’s next for these women? To me it looked like nothing was next. It seemed like nothing would change. Poverty and despair would stretch on forever. I wanted to airlift these women OUT of their surroundings. OUT of poverty. OUT of a situation where they weren’t valued.

Josh and Jennifer, our hosts from Mission India, reminded me, “Amy, this is just the beginning. Change takes time. If you could come back here in five years, you’d see the change.”

Several days later when we visited Raju and his community, I realized that Josh and Jennifer weren’t just trying to make me feel better. It’s true! Change takes time, and God is faithful.

Once this realization sank in, I started to ask myself. What if I actually could have airlifted those women out of their situation? What would happen? I knew the answer wasn’t the pain-free solution that I sought for them.

They wouldn’t experience the joy of watching God at work in their circumstances.

They wouldn’t gain the confidence of being an agent of their own life-change.

They wouldn’t be able to bring the hope of Jesus and a new life into their own community, a place God had assigned them.

Isn’t it the same for us? We may not live in the depth of the worst poverty in the world, but we’re all experiencing the ravages of a fallen world in some way. We’re all suffering the imperfections of a fallen paradise. Maybe you are…

In the misery of an unraveling marriage.

In the fear of financial ruin.

In the pain of having a wandering child.

In the despair of infertility.

In the throes of unwanted singleness.

In the tension of living honestly in a corrupt work place.

In the midst of hurt with a friend.

Do you wish you could be airlifted out? Do you daydream about changing your location with the hope of changing it all? I know I’ve felt that way.

Instead of an air lift, I’m praying for a heart lift for us. Courage to stay and watch for God at work. Love for the hard-to-love around us. Patience to wait for incremental change to happen over time. Divine strength to bear the load.

I’m praying for grace to abound in the place God has ordained for us to become more like Himself and to make a difference in the lives of others. Just like Raju is transforming his God-given community… And the beautiful project manager in pink is changing the community where God has placed her… I’m praying that we thrive.

I’m praying for grace in our space.

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Reminder and Assignments:

Don’t forget to join me tonight at 8:00 pm ET in our private FB group for Facebook Live. Carol will be with me tonight sharing about a list that IS giving her life. Don’t miss it! (If you can’t be there live, you can still watch and comment later.)

The reading assignment this week is Chapters 7,8 & 9. This is the last week of three assigned chapters, so don’t give up! We’re almost there, and here are some tips for keeping up:

  • Read with a pen or highlighter in your hand. Even if you only read and highlight, you will still feel up to speed with the group and able to participate.
  • Add on the other pieces only as time allows, but don’t feel badly if you can’t get to them.
  • If you’re behind already, don’t quit! Each chapter can stand alone. Start on chapter 7 knowing that you can go back, read the chapters you skipped later, and read all the comments on the FB page. It’s all good, so just hang with us. We’d miss you if you left now!
  • If you haven’t chimed in on the FB page yet, make that a goal this week. I’m loving the little community we’re building there, and I know you will too. 🙂
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