This is one of those posts that isn’t fun to write because it takes me back to a time I didn’t love and of course, I don’t come out looking too great in it. But I know I’m supposed to share it, and I believe it will encourage someone out there.
Our newlywed years weren’t normal or easy. I had chronic pain because of a severe case of PCOS. There were many days I was in bed because of pain as soon as I got home from work. I had to receive shots in the backside that were not easy to give or receive. And then there was the baggage.
I came into the marriage with low self esteem and huge trust issues. I was a wounded person who usually felt better wounding others. It wasn’t a good place.
My husband worked a new job with a lot of hours. He was in community theater. We were new in our church and wanted to be active there together. We grieved his kids not living in the same state anymore and trusted God had them and us.
When he had a bad day from any of these stresses or even something else, I had one thought and one thought only.
I’m the reason he’s upset.
It’s my fault.
It will always be me.
It will always be my fault.
When he needed time to chill, I took that as a personal rejection. I didn’t get that men need their cave time. When he’s ready to talk, he will. But my own emotional baggage couldn’t allow me to see that. So I’d chase him down, causing more stress.
And guess what?
It wasn’t about me until I made it about me. And that’s when real conflict started.
I had a lot of problems then, and a big one I didn’t realize was one I think a lot of young women are also dealing with: you want your husband to be your savior.
Sorry, ladies, he can’t. He’s human and he’s going to fail. The harder you pursue him with that expectation, the faster he’s going to retreat. I tell you from experience. Then your pain is that much stronger because you’ve got another man in your life who has rejected you.
How did I get out of that spiral? It wasn’t easy or fast. I had to hit a rock bottom and realize even when his bad day wasn’t about me, I had a lot of healing to take care of. I had people praying. I read a lot from Chuck Swindoll to Sheila Walsh. I went through two Bible studies that changed everything—Believing God by Beth Moore and Captivating by Sheila Eldredge. I started to see my Savior was there to rescue me, He is Jesus, not my husband. And when I put that in the right order, everything changed.
My view of a Heavenly Father wasn’t healthy because I was envisioning someone with closed arms disappointed in me. Pressing in through my relationship in Christ and giving Him everything about me re wired my thinking. God’s arms are open wide even when I goof up and it is about me.
Now that I’m healed from those hurts, I don’t rely on my husband to be the source of all my happiness. I have the discernment to know when he’s having a bad day when to approach and when to wait. I no longer have those internal alarms going off thinking he’s upset with me.
If this is a struggle for you, I pray something in this post gives you hope to seek healing as well. If you are not part of a Bible reading, Christ centered church, I pray you find one and surround yourself with people who can pray for you. I’m rooting for you!
This year my goal is to share surrender stories, encouragement from myself and others that will encourage you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. Last week Sarah Hamaker shared her story about parenting expectations. Alexis A. Goring let us in on her journey about surrendering refined sugar.
My story is about letting go of people pleasing and approval.
For those that know me now, they can’t believe I’d waste much time on such a thing. Peers find me God confident and secure in who God says I am. Trust me, that wasn’t always the case.
I was a hurting person growing up and took offenses, even slight ones that weren’t even intentional, to my core. I nursed them, fed them, and sewed them into my heart. By the time I was in my mid/late twenties and starting married life, approval had a grip on me.
What my husband thought of me kept me busy day and night. Choices he made I zeroed in and was certain was because of me. I can’t tell you how many of our early conflicts had the words, “This isn’t about you.” I couldn’t believe it. And I was imagining so many disappointments he had about me that I conjured up real conflict.
I did the same with colleagues and clients. I wanted to be the best and felt I was only good at what I did when I saw the organization or may name in bold newspaper print. Well, not every task is going to make the news. I exhausted myself wanting the approval.
The object lesson that I share with ladies I speak with is the loudest example to me about how sick I was when it came to needing approval and caring what people thought of me. I am so NOT a crafty person. But years and years ago for Christmas dinner at the in-laws I was chiseling an eggplant into a penguin centerpiece. If Pinterest existed back then I would have scoured the site looking for something I could bring that would make me feel worthy enough to be there. I was up into early morning getting this eggplant centerpiece ready. By the time I got there, I was too tired to be social. No one cared about the penguin. These people just wanted to see ME.
But back then, I still didn’t see it, and surrendering it was a process.
Here’s what God did in me.
I went to a couple retreats where prayer was intensive and I took steps of faith to share my story and allow others to pray. The results were powerful. God showed up and I felt for the first time how deeply Jesus loved me. He started to re wire my mind.
Then, I read. I’m an avid reader and I’m not afraid of a tough Bible study. I journeyed through Beth Moore’s Believing God and a few years later, Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating. Both these books were tools in God’s arsenal to set me free.
This healing in my life paved the way for me to write. There was no way I could have pursued writing for the public the way I was, and sadly I see too many authors with this approval/what others think burden and it is exhausting for them and frustrating for those in their circles. It would have emotionally snuffed me out had I not sought healing. And in His mercy and humor, I did receive a negative review with Entrusted. The person was kind but they didn’t like the book. They even admitted the hardest part was they hit purchase twice, so they were stuck with two copies they didn’t want.
Not long ago that review would have sent me to bed and I would have kept it churning in my mind for months. Today? I smiled. Not because I’m mocking the reviewer, but I’m so thankful for what the Lord has done in me.
And my friend, He longs to do the same for you.
This started out as a reply to The Common Queen, a dear, dear friend who is cleaning it up on the Internet. Her little blog is going places, and once you read her posts, you’ll see why. In writing you need a voice, and Holly’s got it.
Besides this great post, which got two THOUSAND views in a day, she wrote this one. And it stuck a chord with me.
Okay, so I had to respond. I wrote it on Facebook where she linked. It was a run-on mess because that’s just how it is on FB. So I thought I’d respond here, too. Because you need to read Holly’s stuff, and, perhaps my answer will encourage you.
I know what it’s like to be the fat one. My mom said each winter I gained weight but ran it off every summer, until I didn’t. What no one knew was as I moved into puberty, I had PCOS, and quite a severe case. I’ve always struggled with hormonal imbalance and endocrine stuff. Although there were thin years I remember 5th grade when the weight stayed.
We were in gym class, of course, swimming, and a kid pointed at me and asked the teacher, “Does fat float?”
That 5th grade me stayed with me through the thick and thin. When I became a young adult I was so wounded I thought any attention from a boy would validate me. And honestly, shut that fat girl inside me up. Even when I asked Jesus into my life, I have to say—my eternal destination changed.
My fat girl mentality did not.
The shame and insecurity stayed with me through meeting my husband and marrying him. In addition to other issues, I was so insecure I waited every day for a decade for him to announce he’d seen the light and was on his way. My self loathing was that strong.
When I became pregnant with our second child, I knew deep down we were having a daughter. How I prayed she’d be spared. And while in the womb He whispered to me that this child would be an overcomer. I honestly thought it meant she wouldn’t have the tough PMS I endured. Maybe she’d miss the fat floats insanity.
She was born with endocrine issues that made things a challenge for her immediately. Her weight tripled from her two month check to the next one. Strangers stopped me and said the most horrific things. Things that make the fat float question sound genius.
I thank God because in that season, He was healing my heart and giving me confidence to see the bigger picture, pun intended.
I went through a Bible study by Stasi Eldredge called Captivating. God used that book to set me free. I don’t have the words to explain it, but to say I’m free. I don’t worry about what I look like anymore. I do my best to stay healthy, but that shame? Gone.
I also had a mentor encourage me by saying the chubby girls are listened to. When I give a speech or presentation women listen to me because I’m real. I’m one of them. They can relate to me. I’ve watched women with more skill than me try to speak and the women shot them down. Ignored them. Mocked them. Why? Because the speaker was thin and usually blonde. The audiences couldn’t relate.
When I watch my daughter walk down the hall at school there is such joy on her face. When she hears a comment most of the time she gives a look back that says “I feel sorry for you because you’re missing out on the awesome that is me.” But she’s human. It hurts her, too. I suspect as she matures she will hear more. And I hate it. As she’s grown she’s had additional diagnoses that unless God intervenes, she won’t be a size 2. And I pray she’s okay with that forever, as she is now.
My struggle continues. I went into forced menopause and that made losing weight even harder. I keep track on MyFitnessPal. I walk the dog. I do what I can. And I don’t care what others think or say. Truly.
So to the kid that asked if fat floats, I don’t know or care. But fat has a testimony if you allow it. My fat is a broken place I allowed God to use to encourage someone else. And that’s a plus-size bonus.
I know I’ve been blogging about Captivating a lot but it remains one of my top life-changing books. One of the key parts of the book for me was when Stasi Eldredge shared her personal experience with God lavishing on her. I want you to read the book so I won’t share (but I will say I’m going to go through this book as a Bible book study next month through my webinar room.)
Anyway, I’ve been in need of a battery recharge of sorts. This summer has me feeling run down and seeking God’s wisdom and direction. I don’t doubt Him or His promises but I’m ready for Him to move in a way I can see. I’m tired of seeing the same adversity and circumstances where little seems to change.
That is what makes last Sunday so special.
I felt as I drove back to Ohio that my pit stop needed to be at Presque Isle in Erie, PA. There was something deep inside me that craved hearing the waves. I just knew somehow He was going to love on me through the beach scene. If you are someone that responds to nature like I do, you know what I mean. I call it visual worshipping.
His answer came so strong I had to bite my lip from a flat out sob not just once or twice, but pretty much until 3am this morning.
It was the waves, the sun, the sand, the smells. It was feeling not just refreshed and encouraged, but carried. Think Footprints in the Sand. It was so powerful and sweet, such an intimate moment between the Lord and I, I’m still savoring it.
But wait, He wasn’t done. Once I pulled myself away I was driving, still fighting the onslaught of tears just because and I saw the sunset. Purples and pinks so sharp and specific that all over Facebook I saw people from different parts of PA and OH talking about it. Then my son saw the rainbow.
And that’s about when I came undone. I felt like that rainbow was God’s P.S. that He hasn’t forgotten His promises and He is working on them in ways that would blow my mind. I felt so loved and recharged. It was amazing. No wait. HE is amazing.
That’s Captivating. It’s what God wants for you in a customized way unique for you. Ask Him to show you. I KNOW He will.
Have you experienced God this way?