Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: My Lenten Journey



Honestly, I don’t know much about Lent. I've never participated in Lent because it sounded like another thing for me to fail at. Why then am I feeling led to give this Lent thing a try?

"I’m about to embark on a journey of the soul, and I want you to come along. When I stand in the sanctuary on Easter morning, I want to know that my whole heart has been yielded to Christ." ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee

Jennifer has written a book and it has captured my heart before even holding in my hands. Her book, Love Idol: Letting go of your need for approval—and seeing yourself through God’s eyes, releases April 1st. Find out more about her book here and join her Love Idol Movement here.

"Funny, how we can take God’s greatest gift – love – and turn it into an idol. Funny how we can twist our desire for approval, validation and significance into a false god."

I don't know when this feeling of not being worthy of love began. Maybe it started when told I had the intelligence of a dead fish. Other events replay in my head too — all of them feeding on the lie that I am not enough. Mostly, the lies come from my own negative thoughts.

Nonetheless, I've spent most of my life looking for validation elsewhere.

A friend from church, who has been a mentor to me, asks whenever we meet, "How are you doing, Beth?" She wants to know how I’m doing with letting go of my eating disorder. My answer remains the same as it did the last time she asked. "I’m doing okay." To take away some of the shame of not having a different response I tell her, "It’s better than it was."

"What steps are you taking towards freedom, Beth?"  Honestly? I’m not taking any steps. I get all tongue–tied when I try to explain why because I know when it comes down to it I’m scared to let go.

My identity — my worthiness — has been found in the number appearing on a scale for so long. What’s funny, no matter what the number reads it’s not enough. I still feel unworthy of being loved. Even when at my lowest weight, I did not feel worthy of love. Instead, I found myself lying in the bed of a mental hospital wishing I had the courage to end my life.

I've tried to find my worthiness through good works too. I volunteer for everything and anything to the point of exhaustion. It's still not enough.

And then there's my writing. I allow the number of page views or comments on a post to determine my worth. Those numbers grow but it's still not enough.

What's wrong with this picture?

I'm looking for validation in all the wrong places. The scale, good works and my writing have become love idols. If you strip away all of it and there was nothing more than who God created me to be, could I believe I was worthy of being loved?

I go back to His word...I go back to the beginning.

"So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." ~ Genesis 1:27

Do I believe God created me? Oh, yes I do. I really do.

"Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!" ~ Genesis 1:31

If I believe He created me the words "it was very good" apply to me too.

Do I live my life as though I believe?

Let’s be honest. When I look to the number on a scale for approval, I’m not living as though I believe. Continually harming my body by purging does not honor God. If I've already been PreApproved by Him, what am I doing?

I've had enough. I’m exhausted from the not-enough’s and not-worthy’s.

As Christ said on the cross when He died for my sins, "It is finished." ~ John 19:30

I’m turning off those tapes; they will no longer be replaying in my head, Jesus said, "It is finished." He died on the cross to make me new. "The old has gone, the new is here!" ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

How do I respond to what He did for me?

I’m going to join a whole other group of Jesus-sisters in taking a sledgehammer to my love idols and I’m starting with my eating disorder. The number on my scale will no longer define my worth — my scale has been shipped to my husband!

"I don’t want to miss the love I was made for — the love bleeding on Good Friday, then rising on Easter morning."

Me too, Jennifer! Me too!

Today marks the beginning of my first Lenten journey. Today I begin a journey towards freedom.

I am PreApproved by God. I am loved by God. I already have the only approval I need.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~ Psalm 139:14

46 comments :

  1. You can do it Beth. I will be thinking of you and praying for you during your Journey!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tears....just tears. Oh friend, although I cannot relate to your journey with eating disorder, I can relate to a life of feeling unworthy of anyone's love. Molested as a young child, and a victim of date rape as teen I gave myself away to anyone who would pay attention to me after that. I carried guilt and shame into my marriage and still despise my body when I look in the mirror. There, I've shared some secrets. But they are holding me back from fully accepting the love Christ has for me. I feel stained, tarnished, less than, unworthy of love and unworthy of giving love. I love that you are taking this journey. I wish I had the energy to take it with you. I will be praying for you. You are so loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barbie! Thank you for sharing some of your story! I just had to pop in here after reading what you wrote. You are beautiful, too! Are you going to write some of this? I'm sure God will use your experiences to encourage and give hope to others!

      Love, Joan

      Delete
    2. Barbie, thank you for sharing your heart here. You are so beautiful and worthy of love. I know how hard it is to erase those tapes that play in our head...those voices that tell us lies. Maybe sharing part of your story with us was your first step towards freedom. God will give you the strength to keep moving forward. But I know it is all in His timing. Praying for you. Love you so much.

      Delete
  3. Sweet Beth you are so loved! ♥ When I am down on myself, I always turn to these words of assurance; “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.” (Psalm 139:14)...and “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (l Samuel 16:7 NIV) and..."You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God" (1 Peter 3:4) God doesn't look on the outside; He looks at the heart, and He knows when we are being truthful or dishonest. He knows the intents and motivations of our hearts and sees beneath the surface of our outward appearance and accomplishments. You are precious in His sight, and you do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything that you are not. Absolutely no one can take your place sweet Beth!!!!! ♥ ♥

    Praying for you sweet sister; blessings and love with joy as you go through this season of Lent!
    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Denise, I looked up Psalm 139:14 in the Voice translation last night and oh my! "I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul." My goal for this Lenten journey will be to memorize that verse. Thank you so much for the scripture you have shared with me. I'm so grateful for you. Love you.

      Delete
  4. Oh Beth,
    I am PRAISING that you shipped your scale off to your husband...better yet you would have thrown it in the trash where it and all the negative thoughts belong. You ARE truly loved just for being Beth. I love you just for being Beth...just as you are! Not because of your weight or your looks or how brilliantly you write...I just love your beautiful caring heart - one fearfully and wonderfully made by God! You are preapproved - you are His workmanship. I pray that these truths will sink in this Lenten season. Praying for you my friend!
    With love and ((HUGS)),
    Bev

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you sweet friend. I'm so grateful He has placed you in my life. Love you so much.
      (((hugs)))

      Delete
  5. Oh, Beth, it is agony to try to make ourselves more loveable. We simply can't. But God! He does. And it's all by grace. We can't make ourselves more worthy. Faith is our only part. Lest feast on the grace of the Gospel together. Claim Christ's identity, his love and know that the victory is already won. He will give you the strength and wisdom to overcome. I don't think it makes it 'easier' it just alters our perspective. Looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. You are loved. Abide in Him. (Preaching the Gospel to myself)
    Sending you a big hug!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's all by grace! Amen. I'm feasting on the grace of the Gospel with you, Rebekah, and allowing His truths to sink in. Sending hugs your way too.
      Much love,
      Beth

      Delete
  6. You're brave and beautiful, friend. God's going to continue doing mighty things through your obedience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Beth - While I cannot relate to battle with food, I can relate. A scale is a scale. This journey is finding me slaying the scale of views on my blog. What is amazing me to me is that I began blogging about 4 years ago so that my children would know what their mom was thinking during a particular journey we were on as a family. Somehow as friends joined in reading each day, the "scale" crept in. Approval & validation is so insidious. May we be freer at the end of this journey. Praying for you this morning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes. I hear you, Joanne. I think it is part of why I've struggled with writing lately. I knew I was seeking approval somewhere again where I should not be. This blogging world is both beautiful and hard. But through it all He reminds me of how desperately I need Him. Praying for you too as we go on this Lenten journey together. Love you.

      Delete
  8. So touched by your words and your bravery to share Beth. I can relate to all to well about the little love idols we can erect for ourselves. Cheering you on as you step out and smash the idol. Many blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks sweet friend. Love you. Sending hugs your way.

      Delete
  9. You are very brave, Beth, you've torn down all the walls, removed all the masks. I salute you. And, the Lord bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is great! What a HUGE step you made by mailing your scale to your husband! You ARE worthy, Beth. You ARE LOVED! God loves us even at our worst...I'm proof! :) This is an exciting Lenten journey and I'm praying for you! Have you ever heard of the book by Beth Moore called "Praying God's Word"? I found it really helpful with dealing with strongholds. There's wisdom, prayers and Scriptures in it to help! The sign you're holding above is so true! You are pre-approved through Christ! Oh, Beth...He loves you so much and it doesn't matter what you look like, what your weight is or how smart you are. You are beautiful and designed perfectly by the Master Craftsman. I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a great big hug!

    Love, Joan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joan, I need to check out that book as the title jumps out for me. I really want to spend more time in prayer and I want to be praying God's word.... I struggle with my own. Thank you for your sweet words. I love you so much. (((hugs)))

      Delete
  11. I've lived with Lent all my life, but this is the first year I've gone really deep with it, allowing God to get to the root of some serious approval issues I have. And I so appreciate that He waited to do it now, when I have so many sisters doing the hard with me. Like you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to be on this journey with you, Jen. I know God will be using Jennifer's book to have an impact on the lives of many.
      Much love to you,
      Beth

      Delete
  12. Hugs and prayers, Beth. I am so thankful that you have a good friend and mentor who loves you and speaks truth into your life. What a blessing! --- I am thankful for the message of Jennifer's book, and I know that it is going to help so many of us walk in a new freedom. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. YAY! It's so exciting to see. Love you, Lyli.

      Delete
  13. This post made me cry, Beth. I love you so much and am so proud of you for putting down that love idol in the middle of a difficult year for you. I just know that this Lenten season will be a true turning point for you! Much love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Holly. The love and encouragement from friends like you has been such a blessing to me. I believe God purposely placed you in my life to help me through the season without my husband. He is so good!!

      Delete
  14. I so appreciate your honesty here, Beth. We all have those idols and those wrong places we look for for validation. I love how you got rid of your scales. I need to think of tangible ways to symbolize the smashing of my own idols....

    "If I believe He created me the words "it was very good" apply to me too." Yes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa. It is always wonderful to see you here. Blessings to you.

      Delete
  15. Oh girl, I just love you. You are so loved! How funny... my post today was about why we should stop trying so hard. We are on a parallel path, sister. So grateful for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just love you too! Loved your post. So grateful to have you in my life. (((hugs)))

      Delete
  16. Love your heart here, Beth. I can’t relate to the eating disorder, but I can SO relate to trying to find worth in doing and doing well enough to be…what? That’s my question to myself lately. How much do I need to do to be worthy? When is it ever enough. How many page likes and views is enough? How many volunteer organizations is enough? What am I doing it for? WHO am I doing it for? That’s really it for me. And the answer has been ugly. It’s been for me. And I’m tired of it, too, Beth. And I appreciate your reminder…It. Is. Finished. It was finished over 2000 years ago. Why can’t I just rest in that? I want to. I am in this with you, girl. Pulling for you. And for me. And we’ve got the only One on our side that can and will see us through. So glad you found me today…and I found you. ;) Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meredith, it was so wonderful to connect with you this week. I'm pulling for you too. I'm declaring it's enough for both of us!!! And yes, Jesus is on our side. I look forward to getting to know you better.
      Blessings,
      Beth

      Delete
  17. Me too, Beth, me too. I'm tired of the not enough's. I want to BELIEVE every word that God says about us is true for me too. I am loved, enough, seen, beautiful...and YOU are too! What a Lent journey this will be for us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love those me too's. It's always comforting to know we are not alone. Praying for us both, Alecia. No more not-enough's!! We are both loved, enough, see and beautiful.
      Love you and grateful to be on this journey together.

      Delete
  18. Funny, I read Jennifer's post this morning and thought I really need to give up my scale! I'm still trying to fit back into my jeans, but I get way too caught up in the numbers! Good for you, getting rid of yours and choosing to look at yourself through the mirror of His word!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Beth I just love you. I love your transparency. So glad to be walking hand-in-hand with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Amy. I'm glad too. Much love to you.

      Delete
  20. Beth, I want to write so much, but I think everyone has said it all already. I love you and God loves you and I pray for you in this journey. I look forward to how far God will take you in this. Hugs hugs hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, sweet, Beth you are SO loved. We all have strongholds. The enemy knows just where to attack us, doesn't he? But our God is bigger, He is stronger, and He has already fought and won the battle for us. Amen?! I wrote recently about taking every thought captive and putting on God's armor every morning, I will be praying these scripture over you, dear Beth, during this season of Lent. Stand firm in God's love.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh Beth, tears are just streaming down my eyes! I too have struggled and am still struggling with the " am I good enough" issue... Years of struggling with weight problems and feeling ugly and not good enough for anyone or anything. Being unemployed for the past 4 years has made me feel that I am worthless and have nothing to give or offer...You are so beautiful inside and out! I am so glad and blessed to know you! You are His Masterpiece! Sending you hugs and love. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a wonderful post, Beth! This is the second post I've read today talking about Jennifer's book, and the whole concept of "not being enough." Yes, how I've struggled with self-esteem issues throughout the years, too. I have begun to realize, though, that judging myself and defining myself by the world's standards (or my own faulty ones) is reverse pride. Who am I to pass judgment on me - when Jesus died to re-define me forever???

    So, even though it's uncomfortable at times, I will choose to look at myself through the eyes of Jesus. And THOSE eyes are smiling, loving, and full of grace.

    He can free us from self-doubt - for in Jesus Only You, we can find that there is JOY in being just exactly who HE created us to be!

    GOD BLESS!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment! I love hearing from you and I read every one. Be sure to subscribe to comments or check back as I try to respond to all comments. I also do my best to hop on over to your blog for a visit.
Much love to you.