As promised, today we begin our new dare journey – it’s for any woman, married or not, of any age. You can find the back story here. Invite friends. I can’t wait to get started! 🙂
I’m looking at this as “Respect 101 – Respecting God, Ourselves, and Others”
A gangly seventh grader, I stood in front of the long mirror in my bedroom, checking the way my pink jeans fit – you know the drill, the visual up-down-front-back-side-to-side-style evaluative glances we women give ourselves. Our eyes easily drink in the imperfections and flaws like cold water on a hot day, while the positives briefly flash across our consciousness, ignored. Do you remember doing that? I do… maybe even yesterday. One thing is different, however, and that is my eyes see differently. As a young teen, maybe you were like me, where insecurities ruled our thoughts, interactions, and perceptions of truth. We didn’t know that all the other girls were just as uncomfortable in their hormonally induced changing bodies. Because my esteem was low, I naturally thought I had to be the only one who ever felt like that. I was wrong.
And no matter how old we get, we’re still making that same mistake.
We women of all ages seem to continually battle something I call, “chronic comparison,” based on a saying of my husband’s – “to compare is to despair.” We lack the ability to fully wrap our identity up in God’s opinion of us, and because we so easily and often unknowingly buy the lies of the culture, we will always struggle to a certain degree with this.
There is hope, however. Awesome, deep, promising HOPE. This hope is one that is rooted in the greatest love in the universe – and it comes from having a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We’re going to talk a lot about this in the coming dares, but first we’re going to sift through some of the baggage we’re carrying. We’re going to leave some of it behind. We’re going to put some other pieces away for a while. We might still take some of it with us, but for now, we’re not sure what to believe, because our hearts are swayed by the culture. We still want to be liked, happy, rewarded, encouraged… all those positive emotions we enjoy so much.
The first hard look we’re going to take is with the expectations we have of our relationship with God. I’ve known Him for over two decades, but I also fully believe that piece of Him I know is smaller than probably a bazillionth of a bazillionth of a square millimeter, if He could even be confined to space.
The best part of having a relationship with God is that there will always be MORE. We can never know everything about Him, He never stops delighting and loving us in special ways, and if you’ll trust me on this, you’ll understand that He’s better than any guy on the planet will ever be. (I’m not saying, “Don’t like boys or men!” And for the record, I LOVE MEN. I married one and gave birth to two. 🙂 They are all awesome. I’m saying they aren’t supposed to be the thing we want MOST).
So let’s start here, with our relationship with God.
For me, as an atheist until age 22, obviously God did not exist in my world for a long time. Bullied relentlessly grade school through high school, I couldn’t fathom why a God who was supposed to be loving would let such horrible things happen to a little kid at the hands of people who should have been her friends.
I gave up on Him.
I remember being 12 and deciding He wasn’t real. It was a dark moment in my childhood.
I had no hope.
When I chose to believe in Him later in life (after being positively influence by my then-friend, now-husband 🙂 ), I started “doing religion.” I read the Bible daily, prayed for other people and myself, served in my church, and tried to be good.
Can you relate?
“Doing religion” will leave a person bored with God. It’s a place where you know about God, but don’t really know Him personally. One day, while I was driving to work, I said to Him, “You are supposed to be a mountain-moving, sea-parting, miraculous healing-style God. If You are so awesome, why is what I’m doing so boring? I don’t get it. I’m not even sure You are real. Is this all there is?”
This was back in the day of cassette players (I know you might be too young to even know what one is) and so my favorite music cassette had been stuck in my car’s player for over a week. Each time I slid into the seat behind the wheel, I punched the button to try to get it out. Nothing happened.
This day, however, I chose to test God. (looking back, I realize this probably was not a good thing to do, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time) I said to Him, “If you really exist, can You pop my cassette out of the player? That should be nothing for You if You are Who You say You are.”
I pushed the button. It popped out.
I nearly drove my car off the road.
A warm feeling came over me.
It was nice.
Now this may seem like a small thing, and I suppose it is on the surface. That small moment changed me, however. He kept “showing up” in strange “coincidences” that led me down a path of belief and wonder. I started looking for God in everything. Over and over again, I saw Him.
It’s been my experience that usually, when someone young in their faith earnestly pursues God, He makes it easy for them to believe. While this doesn’t happen 100% of the time, He does often show up in miraculous ways. One of the most “impressive” situations I ever witnessed occurred with one of my class members. She had been on a mission trip to Africa, and the missions committee brought some of the African people they had served to the US to a conference. This woman spoke about her experience serving in front of the group from Africa at the conference. When the group was on break, one of the African women came up to her and said, “I cried tears of great joy when you spoke your piece in our native tongue. Thank you so much for all you said.”
The woman had spoken everything in English. She did not even know the native language.
I know many with similar stories. Maybe you have one?
Maybe you don’t.
What About You?
Think back to when you first started to know Him. If you’re like most people, you really just knew “about” Him.
Maybe that’s where you are still, in your relationship with Him. Let’s take just a few minutes and think of the beginning of the relationship. Take a few moments and in your journal, answer these questions:
- What were you looking for in the first place that led you to Him?
- What have you actually experienced?
- What are you feeling towards Him now?
- If you look at the expectations you have of God, what are they? Write out at least three.
Dare you today to take these expectations you have/had of God, and put them in an envelope to be opened in 6 months. At that time, you can check our website, www.GreaterImpact.org under the “Respect Dare” tab for “The envelope” and we’ll give you further instructions.
Please comment below with your answers if you are feeling brave! 🙂 DARE YA! 🙂 LOL 🙂
As a reminder, we are doing Boot Camp again this year – helping women around the world (we are international in attendance this year! WOOT!) learn more about using the discipleship method that forever-style changes women’s relationships with God, their husband, and others.
I’d love it if you’d come. Consider this a personal invitation from me. 🙂 TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to sign up for the early bird rate for Boot Camp – we’re at a lovely retreat center and the investment covers the entire stay including food and board.
They can also accommodate food allergies, just let us know on the enrollment form you’ll get via email. Space is limited – we haven’t really talked much about it because I’ve had the flu, but in the two weeks it’s been up, we’re already half full. So grab your spot while there still are some – if you feel led to deliver Daughters of Sarah or The RESPECT DARE. Yes, you can lead the classes without attending Boot Camp, but your classes will be ten times better if you come!
I’d love to see you.
And hug you in person. 🙂
Love to you,
Oh, and if you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your family, know we’d love YOU to join us on this journey. The road is long and hard, and often paved with tears, but worth traveling – and you’re not alone.
You can get marriage TIPS! articles, a free copy of my eBook, 101 Ways to Respect Your Husband, and other marriage info here. I’ll be taking down the 101 Ways eBook in the next week or so and putting up a new eBook, so grab it while you can. We promise not to share your email with anyone, ever. You’ll get just one or two TIPS! articles a week, plus a blog post as they come, usually 1-2 a week.