The Girl in the Front Church Pew: Accepting the Lie of Mandatory Perfection

The Girl in the Front Church Pew

The girl in the front church pew. She’s happy and kind. She is always perfectly put together and she has it all together…

Al least, that’s what everybody seems to think.

She’s that girl who came from a good, strong, steady Christian home. At church almost every Sunday. Participates in extracurricular church activities. Lends a helping hand when she’s asked. 

Congregants look at her and think that her life is without hurt. Kids at school think of her as the “goody-goody church girl” who doesn’t like to have any “real fun”.

Yet, she’s breaking on the inside. Her heart feels like a cracked window; a hundred little shards falling out one by one. 

Putting on a mask so that she doesn’t “let anybody down”. 

When people ask her “how are you?” she smiles and says “I’m doing so good” in the most chipper voice she can muster, all the while she just wants to scream and claw at something. Yet, she keeps things upbeat and lighthearted because she doesn’t want to bring someone else down with her troubles.

The girl in the front church pew…

I’m that girl…rather…I was that girl.

I was the girl who used to think that I had to cover up when I was hurting because people expected me to be happy; to always have a smile on my face. 

I had myself convinced that people only wanted anything to do with me when I was hurting; that they didn’t care about me the rest of the time, so why do that to myself.

I have seen several girls who grew up in church go through the same thing. We let the lies of the enemy convince us that we have to be happy. That we’ll let everyone down if we let them see that we are going through a rough time. 

There was a period for about two years that I wouldn’t let myself cry in front of people because that showed weakness. I didn’t want others to see the pain that I was hiding. It also didn’t help that I was told that crying in front of others was purely selfishness and a means to gather attention to myself.

Some of you may know from my social media sites, that I was at a ladies retreat this past weekend, and the topic above is one of the areas where God was doing some major healing in.

I’ll be honest, I had myself completely convinced that no one cared unless I was visibly going through something. That they wouldn’t take time for me unless they knew I was hurting. So, I started closing myself off to people, as I decided that if they didn’t truly care about me-or take time for me- at my highest like they did at my lowest, then they didn’t deserve to know the details of my life… 

It wasn’t until this past weekend, that I realized I wasn’t closing them off because I thought they didn’t deserve to know my life, I closed them off because I didn’t want to feel the hurt and pain of rejection again.

I want to talk to you ladies who have lived a similar life as the image of the ‘Church Girl who sits in the Front Pew’ that I wrote at the beginning of the article.

 

You are loved and people do care about you. You don’t need to put on a mask of happiness in order to make sure you live up to the standard that you think people have for you. and take it from someone who has lived through this, most of the time it is only what you think they think. 

It’s all a lie from the devil. Plain and Simple.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

The enemy wants to alienate you (us) from our church family. Without that support and fellowship, we’ll close ourselves off and could end up falling so deep in believing the enemy’s lies that we start to walk away from the church altogether-as is what started happening to me. 

I left my home church and started trying other churches, and started to feel like I could start sharing stuff again; my life, my testimony some of my struggles and eventually, I ended up going back to my home church, and that’s when I started thinking that I had to keep this happy attitude. That people expected me to have a happy smile on my face, so, that’s what I did-even if I was feeling totally miserable.

What I’m trying to say, is that I believed so many different lies. Lies that I had to do this or else that would happen. That this is what people thought-or didn’t.

Ladies, it can be so easy to let ourselves get lost in believing these lies. 

I know…I know

One of the definitions I found for “to know” is: “to have developed a relationship with…through meeting and spending time…” 

I developed a relationship with these lies. I held them close and used them as my proverbial safety covering. I met with them and let them convince me of their so-called “truth”. Shielding myself with them. The lies of having to present an air of happiness became an exhausting chore, yet whenever the exhaustion would hit, my “friend” the lie would come calling and remind me why I was doing it.

 

I want you to know, you aren’t alone. I know what you are experiencing. I also want you to know, that these things you believe are so far from the truth. People care about you, and while I might not know you personally, care about you!

Seriously, I want to encourage you, if you ever need to talk, you can always contact me.

You can get a hold of me through Facebook or through e-mailing me at unfadingbeauty77@gmail.com. And if I can’t help, I’d be more than happy to try to help you find someone who can.

XoXo,

~Kristen~

Healed Hearts,Whole Minds, Sacred Scars: Living Life After Depression

My battle with depression isn’t something I talk a lot about. Why? I think there are several reasons for it. First, I’ve always wanted to have the appearance of a strong, confident woman. Second, I didn’t want people to go out of their way to see how I was doing when they wouldn’t normally do so. Thirdly, I just didn’t want to be “that” girl. And by that, I mean, I didn’t want to be the girl everyone thought was faking it for attention.

But, depression is a very real thing. And, I think it’s something that needs to be talked about more often in church circles.

Healed Hearts,Whole Minds,Sacred Scars-Living Life After Depression

I started battling with depression when I was in 7th grade. It started out with being very, very hurt by a boy I liked, and then having all 180 kids in school find out about the little candy gift bag I made up for him after Halloween.

The hardest part was this boy told me he really liked me too, and led me on for months before this took place. Then, something flipped, and he showed me his true colors (which, in hindsight, I should have seen before hand).

Then, all through junior and senior high school, I was severely bullied. My allergies made it super easy, as all the kids had to do was bring said allergens around me, and it would make me have severe reactions-in fact, I actually ended up in the hospital several times, and came pretty close to dying on one extremely severe occasion.

Because of this, I had to start homeschooling; something that was completely new to me.

Being a people person, I had a really hard time adjusting to things. I rarely got to see any of my friends, and I became very angry, bitter and depressed towards the people who had forced me to choose between life and public schooling. and even though I did get to go back to public school to graduate in the same school my dad and brother’s graduated in, I still struggled with this depression that would occasionally hang over me.

That summer, I went to my last year of summer camp as a camper, and I had a friend come up to me during chapel and she told me something that I knocked me off my socks. She said “This depression. This weariness. It’s gone. It’s done with. It’s no longer who or what you are,”

It may seem pretty mundane, but the thing is, I had never told her about my struggle with depression. Ever.

I believe that moment started me upon a path to healing. There have still been moments of severe depression-these last couple of weeks was one of them.

Then, last night, I just got so fed up with the heaviness that I cried out to God. I told him “Lord, please take the heaviness, the depression, the weariness, the anxiety, the fatigue and the hurt. I can’t handle it anymore. PLEASE BREAK THESE CHAINS OFF OF ME!” 

That’s when I felt led to a chapter in the Psalms and my eyes fell on one particular verse:

“But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked”

Psalm 129:4

In that moment, a wave of peace washed over me and a weight was lifted off of me and I felt lighter than I have in a very long time.

Ladies, I want you to know something; Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s not something to hold in-that only makes it worse (I’ve done it many, many times and it was probably the worst thing I could have done!) and if you need to talk to someone about it, find a good Christian confidant-whether it be a friend, pastor or maybe even a Christian counselor.

Maybe you’re in the spot I was where I thought I was going to have to go on antidepressants because of how bad it is. Sometimes, they’re necessary. Having to go on some kind of medicine for something, doesn’t make you “weak”. In act, in my books, if you’re strong enough to say “I need this” (with your doctor’s approval of course) then you are, in fact, quite strong as many have a hard time admitting they need help through medicine, as it’s often thought that, if you’re on medicine, then you mustn’t have enough faith that God will heal you. I say phooey! God gave the brains to the people who created the medicine for a reason. Sometimes there’s a miraculous, divine healing that takes place, and sometimes, the healing takes place through the medicine the doctor’s have given you.

And the best news of all is God can heal you of it! Sometimes, the healing isn’t all instantaneous. It’s been a two-year healing process for me-and I’m sure there’s still more healing to do before I’m fully healed of it.

But, when you are healed, leave it nailed to the cross. Don’t you dare pick it back up. When it creeps up on you whispering “remember me?” in your ear, you must say “No. I have been healed of this, through the blood of Jesus I have been cleansed and set free!”

There will always be memories. But those memories won’t define you. There may be scars, but let God use those scars as proof of his healing power! I call them ‘sacred scars’. Let them be a sign that you may have been knocked down, you may have struggled, but with God’s help, you got right back up and kept running the race!

Here are a few Bible Verses that have helped me during my battle with depression:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ”” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Lean on Jesus. Give all your anxiety, worry and hurts to him. Let him give you the strength you need. Seek his healing. Seek his face. and Praise him, no matter what the outcome may be!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

When the Devil Tries To Take You Down

When the Devil Tries To Take You Down

Recently, I’ve been on the cusp of making some big decisions about Unfading Beauty Ministries. Everything ranging from projects to events and writing and everything in between.

Making decisions has never been my strong suit. What I mean by that is, I am an incredibly indecisive individual. So, when I make up my mind to follow something that is heavy on y heart, it often comes with a lot of spiritual attacks.Most recently, I made the decision to ask my pastor if I could use the church for Unfading Beauty Ministries first ever young women’s conference. I’ve had this dream in my heart since I was sixteen.

On March 12th 2017, I finally made the decision to talk to him about it. 

Thus enters the where the devil decided to start attacking me and trying to take me down.

It took place in the form of a horribly nasty message over Facebook-something that put me out of sorts for several days. Then, come Wednesday, I woke up with one thought on my mind “Today’s the day I’m going to ask,” So I set up a coffee meeting with my pastor, and we talked and he gave me the go-ahead that I was praying for. 

Fast forward to the weekend, and I got in fight after fight with family members-however, I’ll admit, I was partially to blame-but through these fights crept in anxiety, fear and a thoughts like “How can I talk to young women about something, when I so royally mess up in that area myself?”

Just as I thought that, I came upon an article by Joy Pedrow about how the Devil likes to use thoughts about being unworthy, unqualified and incapable to pull us down. This is when I realized that this is exactly what had been happening to me. 

Ladies, we have the ability to either raise our self or raze ourselves.

The enemy loves to make us think twice about what we are called to. He knows that God created us for a very special purpose. He gave us the incredible ability to have compassion and empathy in ways men have a hard time doing. Our emotions, our love, our concern and our automatic need to nurture and care for others are all God-given gifts to women.

But, when we mess up, when we let our emotions go out of check for a moment, when we fail to care for someone who needs to be loved or when we fail to be the helping hand someone needs, we start to beat ourselves up and question our self.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve most certainly had thoughts like “there is no way I can (fill in the blank) after what I’ve just done (or failed to do)” And I beat myself up and I start to get so emotionally, spiritually or mentally drained to the point I just want to lay in bed all day. 

Or maybe, it came in the form of a harsh word from someone after making a mistake of some kind.

Personally, I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve been told “you write all these things on your blog and then you act like this? You’re nothing but a hypocrite,”

As I read what Joy wrote, it reminded me of something: 

NO ONE IS PERFECT.

Everyone makes mistakes. Many of the mighty men of the Bible messed up in big ways-yet God still used them in ways that were even bigger than how they messed up…

Abraham lied about Sarah.
Moses stuttered.
Noah was a drunk.
Jacob was a liar.
Joseph was abused by his brothers.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Jeremiah was said to be too young.
David had an affair.
Elijah was suicidal.
The Samaritan woman had multiple divorces.
Jonah ran away from God.
Peter denied Jesus.
The disciples fell asleep while praying.
And there are more examples found all over scripture”

(Excerpt from Joy’s article. Link Below)

http://joypedrow.com/2014/06/im-not-qualified/

Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what God has called you to do.

So often we let the enemy win us over to the side of “can’t”. It’s so easy to let ourselves get pushed down and dragged, but it’s when the devil tries to drag us when we have to put on our spiritual armor and fight the only way that will defeat the enemy: With prayer, worship and praise. Pray like a warrior fights. Worship like a warrior yells. Praise like a warrior celebrating his victory.

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” Ephesians 6:11-13 (NLT)

So, put on the armor of God and let us fight this war as we were meant to: with the Unfading Beauty of the Warrior Princesses God has made us to be. Let us strive to do good, and when we mess up, let us remember, that it doesn’t make us unqualified or unworthy. Let us learn from our mistakes and grow to be even stronger warriors for the Kingdom of God!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

P.S.  In regards to the Unfading Beauty Ministries Young Women’s Conference I briefly wrote about, stay tuned. When I have more information that I can give you, you can be sure I will!  

Moving on from Feelings of Defeat

Last night, I was working on some stuff for the book I recently wrote, and as I got finished, I felt this sudden wave of complete defeat wash over me. For no reason at all, it was like it everything was over before it even began. Not only did it bring a wave of unexpected mental and spiritual exhaustion, I became incredibly fatigued-like, my body just wanted to completely shut down right then and there. 

Then, this morning I woke up waaay earlier than I usually do, and I laid in bed with so many thoughts rolling through my head. The problem with that is, once I start to dwell on something, it basically means no more sleep for me.

So I sat up, turned my bed-side lamp on, and grabbed my journal and Bible and stared writing and reading. 

This is what was given to me in my early morning quiet time with the Lord;

feelings-of-defeat

As I said, when I wake up early, I tend to lay in bed and over-think and over-analyze situations. Well, this morning was no exception. Waking up with a million emotions running through my head isn’t fun. The worst part is, it’s almost always about the same thing-or I should say, person.

When I start to think about things in regards to guys, work, the ministry, and writing  I tend to obsess. And the obsessing usually leads to feelings of automatic defeat-despite the fact that nothing bad has actually happened!

This morning when I was praying, and seeking God’s desire and-to be honest-help for this situation, I came across some verses that really spoke to me:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do. and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

This reminded me that Whatever I do, I need to lean on God for everything. Without his hand on whatever I do, I will never succeed. 

Defeat is such an ugly feeling. It wedges itself into one’s heart and mind and makes them feel like nothing will ever turn out right.  

Another verse I read this morning puts to words the exact action that defeat does to us;

“An anxious heart weighs a man down…” Proverbs 12:25

When I read this verse, I was reminded of a ring my dad bought me several years ago when I was in junior high school. It had a Bible verse inscribed on it that reminds me what I need to do when I do have an anxious heart;

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

I have found over and over again, that prayer is exactly the best way to open the “release valve” of my heart to drain out all the anxious, painful, heavy thoughts and feelings.

Prayer; what an easy thing to do! It’s as simple as saying “Lord, this is how I’m feeling. I really just want to serve you, and these things are in my way of following you with abandon. Please help me not feel this way. Take these anxious thoughts from me so that I can focus solely on you.” And you know what? He does! Every. Single. Time!

I also find that talking to people often helps to! When I wrote Proverbs 12:25 above, I didn’t write the whole verse, so here is what it says:

“An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up.

How often do we forfeit the opportunity for someone to “cheer us up” because we think that they either don’t care, or that you don’t want to weigh them down with your “issues”? 

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

Gather together with someone you trust, and let them minister to your soul. Let God use them help bring you out of the pit of feelings of defeat!

It will do you so much good-I know it certainly is what helps me!

XoXo,

~Kristen~