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~

Does Your Social Media Testify that You’re Set Apart for God?

Does Your Social Media Testify that God Had Set Apart-

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It has helped my keep in touch with far off family and friends, but it is also one of the biggest anxiety makers as well.

Recently, I’ve been noticing something that has, to be quite frank, disturbed me.

And, unfortunately, it’s something I’ve witnessed countless numbers of times over the last coupe of years. You see, I watch as people profess to being a Christian and then turn around and quite willingly cuss-some even cuss in the same post as they profess Christ’s goodness, or writing (more like bragging, actually) about how they got (or are currently) incredibly drunk.

Before you start indignantly saying, “Um…except nobody’s perfect,” hear me out.

I’m not talking about new Christians who are still in the early stages of learning these things, I’m talking about people who, for many years, have been professing to be a set apart young person.

I believe that one of the biggest difficulties of modern society is that, in an effort to try to stay relevant, we are forgetting that God has called us to live set apart. To live, speak and act different from the rest of the world.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

While it is important to stay up-to-date so you can relate to people, it’s also necessary to remember that if you act so much like non-Christians, it’s inevitable that eventually, people will end up looking at how you’re acting and start to question and think “why do I need to “get saved” if they act the same way I do now?”

Here’s a bit about what the Bible says:

“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Ephesians 4:17-24 (NLT) (Emphasis Added)

It burdens my heart to watch young people say one thing and then act the other. How are you speaking? Are the words you’re using-and the topics speaking of-going to bring honor and glory to God and be a testament that he has transformed you and set you apart, or are they going to confuse people who see you write one thing one moment, but then say or be something completely the next?

“You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.” Leviticus 20:26

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Let me present this thought to you; Speaking encouragement isn’t just about speaking kind words to uplift someone. Speaking encouragement is also about speaking in such a manner that it encourages unbelievers to desire to know what it is that makes you want to speak in such a pure way.

Speaking encouragement

I want to challenge you to take a few minutes and prayerfully go through your social media-whether it be  Facebook, Instagram, a Blog you have, Twitter, Tumblr, Snap Chat…etc… and let God convict you of the things that could be/are causing harm to your testament of Faith and belief in Christ; the things (words, statements, actions…etc) that make people wonder if what you say about believing in Jesus is really real.

No, people aren’t perfect, but, as Christians, we need to let God transform us. We need to heed his word so that when we testify about our faith, people won’t question it.

So, let God transform you from the inside out. Remember, that is where Unfading Beauty originates in our spirit, heart and mind. For, what is in the heart, will flow out into every aspect of our lives-so let Christ and his word be what you are putting into your heart, it’s the best thing that a person could ever do-for them self, for others and most importantly, so that the Glory of God will be seen in and through you!

XoXo

~Kristen~

What Do You Do When God Changes The Desires of Your Heart?

hearts-desire

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of changes in me. More specifically, changes in my heart’s desires. 

Recently, I had a very part-time, very temporary job as a cook/dishwasher at local diner. On my second last day, I had a thought that came out of nowhere, “I think I’m ready to be okay with the idea of being a house wife/stay-at-home mom if that’s what God calls me to,” 

or me, this thought represents a big shift in the desires of my heart-as well as my thinking. For many, many years I’ve wanted nothing to do with staying at home full time-no matter whom it was for. I always equated it with being like a caged bird. That I wouldn’t get to go out and be free to have “me-time”. The thing is, as Christians, we are called to lives of surrender, sacrifice and selflessness-a life of servanthood.

Another thing that God has been changing my heart about is where I live. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to move-to leave the small town I’ve grown up in. Then. one day this last week, I woke up with one prayer in my heart, “Lord, I’ll go-or stay-wherever you want me to be,” 

Lastly, one other area God has been transforming my heart’s desires is in the area o my future husband–whomever he may be. For the majority of my teenage-and now into my twenties-I’ve had a long list of “necessary qualifications” my future husband must meet. But recently, I realized that I was starting to think that many of these qualifications on my list seemed frivolous and unnecessary. In the end, I have realized that there are only 2 necessary qualifications that I desire:

  1. He must love Jesus above all else
  2. He loves Me (and our future children) in the way the Bible calls him to

“Delight Yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This is a verse that is referred to so often in Christian circles-and we even pray it over our lives-but then when God actually starts transforming and replacing our desires with his, we are at a loss as to what to do and how to handle it.

I don’t know about you, but when I realized all the shifts  and changes in my heart’s desires, it scared me. Part of me felt like I was losing an integral part of myself. I’ve invested so much time and energy into these dreams. I mean, they’re my desires. My wishes. Things that I want. Then it hit me, my plans and dreams and wishes pale in comparison to what He wants for my life.

” “For my thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways.” Declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth; so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ” Isaiah 55:8-9

So, how does one handle God changing the desires of your heart? 

I think it comes down to two things: First is Faith and Trust. We need to trust that God is doing a good thing in us. that we are living life out according to what he is calling us to-even thought it may be something that we didn’t want at first. Second is spending time in his presence. Reading his word.

Change is an inevitable part of life, but, I think it can be even harder when the change is occuring in a place as sacred and deep as the heart. A place where we invest so much emotion and time.

When we want to live out our lives according to God’s will;  when we ask for him to give us the desires of our heart, we better be prepared for him to do just that. And sometimes, that means being willing to let him transform our desires to things that we may not have desired before.

transform-our-desires

I recently read a story about a woman who didn’t want to have kids, but her husband did. She was afraid for a myriad of reasons, so, after much prayer and asking God to give her heart his desires rather than hers, she realized one day, that she was ready to try to have children.

Maybe you are fearful of the desires God might place in your hearts. And that’s okay. Fear causes us to lean less on ourselves and our own devices and more on Christ. It’s the living in fear rather than surrendering it and leaning on Jesus for strength that will cause heartache. Leaning on fear and holding it closely to our chest causes anxiety and stress. Leaning on Jesus in the midst of fear causes us to trust him more. And, the more we trust him, the more faith we have to let him transform us into the person he wants us to be.

I’ll leave you with this verse-of which is my prayer for all of you.

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” Ephesians 1:18

XoXo,

~Kristen~

 

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