straight A’s

I am but a child. A silly, little girl. At forty-two. How can this be?? Incredibly, I find I haven’t advanced much beyond my primary school days. No. Every single thing that mattered then still matters today. Like grades. Because at forty-two, I discover I’m still striving to be a straight A student.


Recently, I felt as I did in first grade. Our teacher, Ms. Wittle, would walk slowly around the classroom and squat by each desk to check our work, red colored pencil in hand. She peered over my paper but oh, there was an error. And then another. So no, I didn’t receive my reward. A sticker to indicate a job well done.


Instead, I got this…


Oh, how my insides churned as Ms. Wittle looked over Martha’s paper. Because apparently, she was a good girl. She did very well, indeed. I can still see the smile my classmate was favored with and hear the crinkling of the paper as the sticker was lifted away. Martha won the day.

It’s this memory that presses into me today. As vivid as the day it occurred some thirty-six years ago. The recollection was burned into a heart that felt as heavy as lead. Because that day I felt small. Inadequate. Insecure. And unacceptable. Basically, unlikeable. This is how the red lines etched upon my paper made me feel. And this is how I felt this week.

And how silly this is! Incredulous that in the midst of random police shootings and a loved one’s struggle to simply live comfortably, I cry over my report card. I agonize over the grades I receive in the school of life.


Last night I had hot tears. I ached inside. It came from the pit of loneliness. As I lay next to my husband, tears spurted. He comforted me and asked me what was wrong no less than four times. Because I didn’t want to say it. I know how dumb it sounds. How trivial. And yet, it’s real. My hurt is real.

Finally, I uttered what lie in my heart. I told him I want to be first. I want to be the one who’s someone else’s first choice. And unlike my last cry fest in which he chastised me for my luxury complaints, this time he held me instead. He told me there are three people in our home who pick me first.

And though my husband’s tender words soothed my festering wound, they didn’t eliminate the poison that pollutes my soul…

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Growing up, I always had one good friend. Kindergarten through third was Jennifer. I loved her so as she shone in my eyes. Pretty and popular. And strong. In second grade, we had the opportunity to try and lift a fireman’s oxygen container. Tony told me no way could I do it, but Jennifer could. And she did. Me? I struggled but managed to lift it a few inches off the floor.

Fourth grade was Hannah. She wore a purple Hang Ten mini skirt. Definitely a leader as all us girls flocked to her. Fifth I had two best friends. Jennifer and I were reunited and Sarah came into my life. And as time wore on, others drifted in and out of my life. But the point is, there was always one. One special friend. Or two. Really close. Like a sister.

We knew everything there was to know about each other. Colors. TV. Music. Boys. And truth is, that’s what I long for today. I want a woman who knows me from the inside out. How I take my coffee. How I feel just by the look on my face. A woman who can drop by anytime without having to call first. A woman who will choose me first. Every time.

I want. To be. First. First pick. First place. Just first.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. Colossians 1:18

I picked up a book I hadn’t read for over two weeks this morning. The above verse is what I found. Mind you, I’d already logged in my journal how I wanted to be 1st choice. But lo and behold, I discovered the position is already taken. Or it should be. First place belongs to Jesus. He should be my choice.


So here’s the thing about life. And striving for those straight A’s. See, there is no one person who can give me a passing grade in every single category. No friend (no matter how good she may be) can give me everything I crave: approval, acknowledgement, accolades, affirmation, assurance and acceptance.

Oh, she may give me a piece of approval here and a slice of affirmation there. But she is not God. I cannot look to her or her red pencil for acceptance. Because she is not capable of affirming me like I hope she can. Or will. And like me, she may even be trying for an “A” herself.


“Great Expectations” keeps coming at me. The title. Charles Dickens’ book. I think God is trying to show me my expectations are too high. I am placing people too high on a pedestal. The danger there is they’re likely to fall off. Because no one can stay that high. And the first time they let me down, I’ll end up pushing them down. Off that pedestal. And when that happens, no one gets an “A”. Or the gold star. Or the smiley face.


It’s true. I am a lonely woman. But I keep looking in the wrong places for fulfillment. It’s not one woman who will fill all my emptiness. It’s one Man. Jesus came to be first. And I’m His first choice. For Isaiah 43:10 tells me I am chosen to know Him. Exodus 33:17 assures me He knows my name. Thus, I find acknowledgement.

By 2 Timothy 2:15, I know I am His approved worker. I receive a pat on the back from my God through Matthew 25:21. Hebrews 10 assures me I have boldness to enter His presence at any time. No phone call necessary. Revelation 3:11 tells me if I hold on to what I have, my crown awaits. And if I can just persevere… if I can fight the good fight and finish this race, I’ll get that blue ribbon after all.

And so, through God’s very word, I find the acceptance I so desire. And affirmation this little girl so desperately seeks. My God squats down beside me at my desk. He takes out His red colored pencil and gives me the grade I’ve been looking for. Not only is it an A, but it’s an A+. That’s what my Teacher has done for me today. And the tears flow down my cheeks.

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. Matthew 23:8


Yes, I am just a child. A silly little girl. At forty-two. Inconceivable.

But despite my shortcomings, God assures me of truth. His truth. I may fall pitifully short in the school of life, but in His grade-book, I’m a straight A student.

Perfect in His eyes.


Finding His Feet



He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing. Psalm 40:2

He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing. Psalm 40:2

At 2:00 a.m. this morning, my mind whirred. After feeding my infant daughter, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I laid down, closed my eyes, and yet my brain stayed alert. Sentences formed and paragraphs emerged, but only in thought. Because I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. Not in the middle of the night. For sleep is too precious when you have a new baby. And so after some time, I willed myself back to sleep. And my last waking thought… murky waters.

Last night when I should have been sleeping, I couldn’t stop thinking about yesterday. See, it should have been fun. I took my son to a birthday party at an indoor pool. And I think I was looking forward to it more than he was. Because believe it or not, after a woman spends eight weeks at home with a newborn, even a child’s birthday party can feel like an event. And so both son and I eagerly set out to enjoy a few hours of social interaction. But for me, expectancy dampened quicker than my son’s swimming trunks for more than one reason.

First being my son’s clinginess. After arrival, he stayed close by my side and that concerned me. When asked, he said a lot of the kids were fourth graders. And this is where I caught a glimpse of his insecurity. To encourage him, I offered to walk him to the water slide to see if he measured up. I knew he’d used that slide once before but he seemed reluctant yesterday. Sure enough, he made it just to the penguin’s wing. Just over four feet tall. Tall enough to stand in the 3’6″ water the slide would shoot him into.

The lifeguard spoke to me… as long as he can find his feet in the water, she said. He’ll be fine, she said. And I think I needed that assurance more than Levi. Because I’m the one who fears water. I’m the one who needed to see he was big enough. I’m the one who had to know… can he find his footing?

Pushing aside my fear of the waterslide, we joined the birthday crowd. And that’s when I observed my boy. I took in that he was a full head shorter than most of the others. But that’s not a big deal as my son has always been short… like his Paw-Paw. No, other than being tall enough to use the water slide, height was not, and is not, an issue with me or my son. It wasn’t the physical attributes that pierced my heart as I sat poolside. Rather, it was how my boy conducted himself in the group. And what I witnessed cut me to the core… see, he wasn’t comfortable. He seemed so young. So incredibly insecure. And maybe just a bit awkward in comparison to the others’ ease.

No, my son didn’t appear to be the social butterfly in that group setting. And more than that, I could tell he wasn’t the one. You know, the one others wanted to be with. In fact, as one hour turned to two, it seemed he was on the outskirts of the party just a little. And my heart sank because I knew the truth… my son was turning out just like me. And though this has given me and my husband occasion to smile in past, this time I felt overcome by sadness.

See, yesterday, I saw another side of Levi. It was the side of me I’ve tried to put behind me most of my adult life. And so I discovered the truth. My boy really is a little me. More so than I ever comprehended.

And so it’s much deeper than what I initially thought. Because yesterday became about so much more than Levi finding his feet in over three feet of water. At least in my eyes. I realized the time has come for my boy to navigate the murky waters of life. That’s really where he needs to find his feet. It’s there he’ll have to find a firm place to stand. And I fear for him. Because he’s a little me. And I know what I did. And I wonder what he’ll do.


So it begins. School is where a child really has to find their footing. And the truth is, sometimes they don’t. I know because I never did. Because in school, I came to believe I didn’t quite measure up to the other girls. But height had nothing to do with it. I was painfully shy and awkward and didn’t know how to conduct myself in a group. And though I liked to share stories and participate early on (so says my kindergarten report card), that wasn’t the case by the time third grade rolled around. Somehow in three short years, my openness closed tight and my words lessened. My light diminished. When did that happen?

It must have been second grade. I had a best friend and I loved her so. But in her shadow, I felt the pangs of being less than. Perhaps the first cut came when a little boy pointed out I wouldn’t be able to do something that she could. And so by third grade, I was painfully aware of what I wasn’t. And what she was.

My friend was the pretty one. The fun one. And everyone liked her and wanted to be with her. Why she picked me as a friend, I’ll never know. And so the years continued. By the fifth grade, my placement was firmly established. A classmate pointed out that just because my two friends were popular, it didn’t mean I was. As if I didn’t already know.









And so I consider Levi on the cusp of these formative years. And because I remember how I felt, I fret over his own feelings. Does he feel less than? Has he suffered those pangs? Has he been rejected? Because he’s a miniature me… And so, I compare our pictures. And I have hope for my boy. See, my face is more guarded at the same age. My smile not so bright. But Levi still has a look of confidence about him. He still looks shiny and bright. Still open and willing to share. And I feel a bit of relief. He’s not been awakened to the world’s set of scales yet. He doesn’t feel the hurt of not being the one. Chosen. Popular. For now, he’s safe. He’s still free to be himself.

IMG_0592 IMG_0593   IMG_0594 IMG_0589

I know, I know. This is small. This is not a tragedy. This is simply school. But I ache for my son nonetheless. I want so much for him. I want it to be different. And I fear for him because he’s a mini-me. I know what I did. How I shut down. And then how I put on a mask. I pretended to be things I wasn’t. And then later, I used substances as a crutch to get me through. Whatever it took to maneuver in a crowd. And so, I went with the flow. Easily led. A follower to the core. No, I didn’t navigate the murky waters of school successfully. I never found my footing and thus, left home at nineteen not really knowing who the heck I was. What will it be like for him?

Truth is, peer pressure is hard. And the reality is I’m just now getting over it. Finally, at forty-one, I’m comfortable in my own skin. Just now finding my footing… And though I’ve made great strides, every now and then I slip. Something will present that awakens me once again to the world’s set of scales. And what took years to press down bubbles forth to the surface. Like raging water. It was a word find I saw on Facebook that did it last week…


The first three words you see is the game. And people saw lovely things such as love and freedom. But me?


And so, I wonder… am I, a full grown woman, really over it after all? Does this word game mean the above is what’s important to me subconsciously? Am I still held under the sway of success being measured by popularity and beauty? Or is it that I now project the peer pressure I felt for myself as a young girl onto my son.

Oh, I want him to excel. And in school, that means success is measured by popularity. By beauty. By materialism. And by physical attributes. And so, I ache. This time, it’s not for me. It’s for him. I want him to stay shiny and bright. I don’t want him to be tarnished by the harsh reality of school. I don’t want him to hurt. I don’t want him to feel that first cut of rejection. To feel less than. Because to me, he is chosen. Valuable. Worthy. Beautiful.

 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 52:2-3

As trivial and petty as all this may seem, I was in tears by the end of yesterday. And because Levi has not been awakened to the world’s value system yet, and I have been, I cried for him. And at 2:00 a.m. this morning, this is all I could think about. Levi and what the future will bring. And I pray it doesn’t take him forty-one years to find his footing… like me. And that he’s more successful in navigating the murky waters of school than I was. And because he has a more solid foundation than I did at his age, I have every hope that it’ll be different for him. Because just look at him. In my eyes, he’s a success. He’s popular. Beautiful and chosen. And more importantly, this is how God sees him. All others may reject him, yet He won’t. And in truth, that’s all that really matters.

It’s true… with God on his side, Levi’s footing will be sure. God’s security to replace insecurity. And like with the waterslide, perhaps I need to rest in this truth more than Levi does. As his mother, I need to know he’ll find his feet. I have to hear he’ll be just fine. And God’s word assures me he will.

IMG_0563For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock.  Psalm 27:5

Trash to Treasure


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was-the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

The wise men offered gifts to Jesus. And so, the focus of Christmas shifts from what God gave men, to what men can offer Him. The Magi opened up their treasures to pull out gold, frankincense and myrrh. But what about us regular folk who don’t have a surplus supply of these highly valued substances lying about. Where, then, shall we find treasure fit for a King? And so, God’s word sheds light as Matthew 12:35 tells us where lies our treasure… a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things.

What then, shall I say to this? Because at least once a week you’ll hear me mutter “crap” when things do not go accordingly. Does this mean that my heart is filled with crap because of what comes out of my mouth? Why doesn’t a song of praise fill my heart and bless the ears of all those in my company? Most likely, there’s no song of praise because it’s been covered up by the refuse (or crap) that surrounds it. For more often than not, complaint and bitter and other various negative feelings permeate my heart. And unfathomably, despite all that God has done for me, it appears my heart is a storehouse of trash, rather than treasure.

What then, shall I offer the King? If all that I contain is trash, would my gift be acceptable? And contemplating this, I have to think yes. Because Christ came for everyone… especially those who have trash. If I turn to the King in all sincerity, and offer Him all that I have, which is trash, I believe He would receive my gift. And because He is in the business of transforming souls, why, I believe He could take my trash – the baggage, the mistakes, the flaws, and the imperfections – and make something beautiful out of it. I think He could turn my trash to treasure. If I dare let Him.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

And so, I dare. This year for Christmas, I offer myself to Jesus. Because I have a heart full of belief that He will make something beautiful out of the mess of my life.


This is what I look like on the outside. It’s how I look before I cover up with make-up. I’m not happy that my nose is crooked or that my skin is flawed and beginning to sag. In truth, I have never been satisfied with the way I look. Honestly, I’ve felt ugly more than pretty, and have always struggled with feeling less than, insecure, insignificant and second-rate. And so, I do my best. I usually overcompensate. Before walking out the door, I cover up what I can.

Then, there’s my inside. I have more bad days than good, and am usually a mess. I fight depression, which I now know to be the side-effect of perfectionism. My house stays nice one or two days a week, but usually resides in a state of chaos. Yes, sometimes my counter is covered with dishes and laundry is heaped to the ceiling. Like yesterday. I overeat. I let curses fly at least once a month when my computer acts up. I let things totally, utterly consume me and I care way too much about what people think. I get completely frustrated with my son at least once a day. Raising him has been a struggle, and overall, I feel like a failure as a mother. I can be bitter. And this is just what I can think of right now. There’s more… so much more. And this? This is my treasure? This is what I can offer Him?

Yes. If it’s all I have, yes. Because what will Jesus do with gold and frankincense and myrrh? For those substances are already treasure. And He who is our treasure hardly needs more. No, what He desires is someone who is imperfect. Perhaps a woman with a crooked nose on the outside and bitterness on the inside. And that’s me. Flaws and all. For when I come to Him and lay myself at His feet, He accepts me. When I finally have those moments when I can’t stand myself another minute, and try to turn… from me and all my trash to Him… He takes me. He accepts my gift. He takes my trash. For it’s all I have to offer.

You know… I don’t step out of the house until I take certain measures. I use make-up to cover up the things I don’t like about me and use a hot curling iron in an attempt to coax my hair into unnatural waves… and this takes time. The end result isn’t great, but to me, I look better than I did.


And so, I realize that it will take some time for my insides to get ready, too. For it’s Christ who’s being formed in me. And ever so slowly, over time, I rid myself of such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. I try not to lie to another soul as I take off my old self with its practices. And I put on my new self, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created me. I clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, and bear with others as I forgive, for Christ forgave me. And above everything, I put on love, which binds all these together in perfect unity (from Colossians 3). And then, I am ready to face the day.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Me alone, I don’t house much treasure. But because He lives in my heart, there is something of value. And over time, more of Him begins to shine through for the heat of His light coaxes my insides to form curls of virtue that at first feel unnatural. And then, as Christ is formed in me, I become more and more beautiful in His sight…


The Magi offered Jesus treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh because they were able to do so. And Christ accepted their gifts. Me? My treasure is different. And as His light begins to burn brighter than all my darkness, my trash diminishes leaving behind only treasure… my gift to the One who is treasure already.

A Full Closet

Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, I listened to a Mother’s Day message today in which the speaker addressed some of the very things I have been thinking about recently. Namely… insecurity. (I’ve included the link to Lysa TerKeurst’s message at the end of this blog). And the funny thing is, she mentioned her past (as a little girl), the fickle opinions of others, and the fragile choices our children make. And I found her message to be illuminating in that she helped me identify the problem with my insecurity. And it isn’t what I would have thought. See, my line of thinking was that if you’re insecure, you’re not confident. And so logically, low confidence means that you’re not lofty and high up, right? Because if you’re insecure, you’re staying low, right? Doesn’t insecurity then, in essence, mean that you’re humble and meek? And if so, isn’t God pleased by that?

You know, I have been praying for godly wisdom for a little while now. In order to know how to please God, I need His wisdom… because His is so different from the world’s. And, fortunately, the speaker pointed to Scripture that points directly to godly wisdom. And it’s through Proverbs 11:2 that I see just what my insecurity really is: “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Illuminating, huh? And so, I find that insecurity is not lowly and humble at all, but in fact, the opposite is quite true. The mere fact that I have been feeling insecure, and shameful, highlights the hidden pride in my life. And if I want God’s wisdom, as I have been so praying… then it’s in my humility that I’ll find it. And so I see, the issue is not at all insecurity… but pride. Because it’s pride that cares what other people think. It’s pride that feels shame in not measuring up to other people’s standards. And it’s pride that produces those feelings of inferiority. It’s the pride of life…

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

So in a nutshell… God has answered my prayer. I’ve been seeking godly wisdom, and praying for God’s wisdom, and so James 1:5 has been played out in my life: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…” Because through a message I watched at random today, God has shown me where to find His wisdom… and it’s not in my insecurity. If I want God’s wisdom, then I must be humble. And so, I have a choice to make. We all do. We must decide where we will find our true identity… and where we will find our true security. Because if we place too much importance on this world via its opinions and its measuring stick, then we will never, ever feel secure. Because the world is passing away, and the lust of it… but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). See, our security can only be found in Him.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, God never ceases to amaze me. I am forever awed by how God fits together the pieces of my life… how He strategically plants me in places, and in circumstances, and with people, and how He opens the eyes of my understanding, enlightening me, that I may know what is the hope of His calling for me. See, I’ve been feeling less than. But He is opening my eyes, and I am beginning to see what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance. And I’ve been feeling inadequate, but He is showing me what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward me, who believes. He is showing me that I am complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. I lack nothing… because I am complete. But it’s Him who completes me. I will never, ever measure up to man’s expectations… but with God, because I am covered by the blood of His Son, I am complete. That’s my security.

You know, everyone wants to fit in. Everyone wants to be liked (well, most people do – I have run across those who actually take delight in offending other people). But the truth is, Christians will never, ever fit in with the world. Because the world and God see things in stark contrast to each other. God’s kingdom is flip-flopped from the worldly kingdom. God’s wisdom does not mesh with the world’s. And if we hold too tightly to the world, and the things of the world, then pride creeps in and wisdom walks out. And shame always follows.

Shame has always been with me… it’s always been part of my make-up. It first took root when I was a small girl. When young, because of things I did not have and my not-so-full closet. When older, because of things I did and a much fuller closet… only the closet happened to be filled with skeletons. And older still, disgrace follows because of the things I do, or don’t do, that may or may not measure up to mere man’s expectation of me. And so, shame cloaks me. But the cloak of shame comes directly out of the closet of pride. And that garment of insecurity was not selected for me by God. And so, I have a choice to make. I can gain the whole world today, packing my closet full with robes of shame in trying to keep up with the Jones, or… I can choose Him. And with Him, my closet need not be so full. Because with Him, I will be clothed in robes of righteousness. And with Him, I will be clothed in glory. And in order to be so clothed, there is only one item needed… Him.

And so, the choice… a full closet, or an empty one? Here or there? Or, this world or that one? The choice is mine to make. And it shouldn’t be that hard of a decision.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:24-26

… just like a little girl

Sad girl 2

My roots are showing. No, I’m not talking about my hair… I’m talking about my make-up. And no, I’m not talking about the liquid foundation that goes on my face, I’m talking about my foundation, my beginnings, my roots… what’s formed me, what’s made me and what moves me. Meaning, my inner being. And music is part of my make-up. It’s been a part of my life as long as I remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of my babbling while “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles played in the background. This has to be one of my all time favorite songs. And without a doubt, if I hear Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” from 1972, there will be tears. It reminds me of being young, and of my brother, and of playing, and of innocence.

Yes, I just love music… because it moves me in a way that nothing else can.  And it’s not just Christian or gospel or hymns that move me… it’s all kinds of music. When I clean the house, you can bet classic country will be playing… loudly. And I will be singing along at the top of my voice. And depending on my mood, you may hear anything from seventies to oldies to eighties to classic rock to Christmas in my house. It just depends. And here’s what I think… that no matter the genre, you can find God in it. If you listen with your heart. And it’s one of Bob Dylan’s songs that moves me. It’s one of his that makes me think about being God’s little girl. Perhaps you’re familiar with the lines…

And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

Funny that no matter how old a woman may be, at heart, she’s really just a little girl. And no matter how strong she thinks she is, there are just going to be those times that she falters. There will be those times that she breaks…  And you know, it doesn’t even have to be a big thing that causes her to break. No, usually it’s something small and subtle that sneaks up on her. Like what recently took place with me. Something silly, really, and yet… I felt just like I did all those years ago. I felt just as vulnerable at forty as I did when I was growing up. And so, I find those lyrics true and stirring… she may be a woman, but truly, she breaks just like a little girl.

sad girl 3

You know, when I grew up I felt less than. Some of you will know what I mean by that. For example, the first sixteen years of my life I lived in an apartment that was on the backside of a store situated right beside a highway. My backyard was sandwiched between our small porch and a cow field. When I was young, I loved the sensation of running through the cow fields and the freedom to roam. However, as innocence waned, I began to feel embarrassment about where I lived. It was, well, less than what other people had. My bedroom didn’t even have a door. At sixteen, we moved into a regular house. Finally, shame abated because I no longer lived in less than adequate quarters.

Since my hometown is so small, there’s no need for a middle school. Elementary grades range from kindergarten all the way through the seventh grade. And it was through those formative years that I had three different best friends. Each one was special, outgoing, funny… they were leaders. But I was painfully shy and awkward… a follower. And I always felt less than them. This inferiority complex was cemented down when my fifth grade class-mate told me that just because my best friends were popular, it didn’t mean that I was. And for a little girl, the remark was stinging. It was heartbreaking. It marked me… so much so that I remember it vividly as a forty year old woman.

The first few years of high school were okay… but money was scarce. Oh, we never went hungry, so I never endured real suffering. Just feelings… less than feelings. See, all the girls wore particular brands of clothing (just different colors). They all looked similar, but I didn’t look anything like them. And so eventually, I started to hang out with a new crowd. And with my new friends, fashion was a non-issue. But, I think I still cared deep down. Because to this day I remember a boy saying, “Pam, I really admire you… you wear things that no one else would wear and don’t even care!” He didn’t know that if I could have worn different clothes, I would have. He didn’t know that I couldn’t, because my family couldn’t afford the clothing that other girls wore.

In high school, my best friend had the best of everything… at least in my eyes. She had nice clothes, a new Subaru Justy, a CD player (before they were common place), Clinique make-up and Anais Anais perfume. Oh, and she was beautiful and outgoing and could sing. She feared nothing and I feared everything. And so, at seventeen, the feeling of less than sunk deep into my soul. This became my identity. And ironically, it was not that long ago when I talked to my girlfriend about all this. She shared with me about her own insecurities from that time period, and she was so surprised that I didn’t recognize them all those years ago. But I couldn’t have… I was so engrossed by my own feelings of insignificance, that I was blinded to her own inadequacies. I give you all of this background so that you’ll understand the following, and although seemingly insignificant occasions, they forever touched me… forever marked me…

Two particular weekends from high school were brought to the forefront of my mind last year. And I was surprised when the memories surfaced. And in hindsight, it all seems quite silly. But it didn’t feel silly then. In fact, my heart was broken. At sixteen, I had a very steady boyfriend and it was near the end of the school year. And there was a huge party… the party. And although his best friend chose to take his girlfriend, my boyfriend did not choose to take me. See, he wanted to spend time with the guys. And that evening, I felt so insecure… so insignificant… so left out… so, well, less than. I felt forsaken. Flash forward to the next year. I had my very best friend, and we did things together every single weekend. It was a given, no need to ask if we would be together… we just were. But one particular weekend, her old best friend came to town. I assumed I would spend time with them. Why would things change just because an old friend came to town, right? See, she was my best friend. But, there was no phone call. Not one time all weekend. And as the previous year, there was a big party. My best friend took her old friend, along with three other girls to that party. I was left home alone. Again. I felt so insecure… so insignificant… so left out… so less than. I felt forsaken.

And here we are today. I am forty year old woman. And, well, this will seem quite silly and so insignificant. Especially in light of current events and the real suffering that takes place in the world today. But nonetheless, I was somehow marked. My dear friend who lives out of state chose to spend time with her other out of state friend. And deep seated feelings erupted to the surface of my heart. I felt so… you know. And so what becomes clear to me today is that age does not matter. A forty year old woman can in fact feel just like a little girl. It’s becomes clear that although she aches just like a woman, she can break just like a little girl.

Sad girl

There is such irony here. You see, I just wrote about “Who I am.” I wrote about being confident and finding my identity in God. I wrote about people watching, and really feeling for those insecure adolescent girls that I see today. The irony? Well, I am no different than those young girls. In fact, I am still just a little girl myself. At least in my heart. And so, I surmise that all of us women are just that… little girls. And although we may ache like women, and break like a little girls, we do have hope. See, God is with us. He made us a promise, and He will be faithful to keep it. He said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

And so, little girl, remember that. Don’t ache, don’t cry, and don’t break. For you don’t ever have to feel forsaken again. Because you are not alone.

Who I Am

I’m a people-watcher. When we go out, I love to observe people… how they act, what they say and the expressions that play across their faces. And to be truthful, I sometimes eavesdrop. I can’t help it… If I’m in the grocery store and someone is talking on their cell phone within my vicinity, I’m going to listen. Because that’s what my ears are made for… hearing what people say. It was Thursday, though, that I felt pretty upset by my people observation skills. Because within the span of a couple of hours, I received more ugly looks than I can count. Oh, for various reasons, which lead me to believe that I must be the worst driver in history. One man looked at me so angrily, he even shook his head in a curt way, as if I were going to plow right over top of him and his two daughters. This happened as I was pulling away from a drive-through window and I can assure you I was not going to run him over. I stopped as soon as I saw him, which was at least 10 or 15 feet away. At any rate, my feelings were hurt. And the look I received didn’t produce any loving vibes toward the man. In fact, I felt quite the opposite… I felt attacked and that the situation (or the ugly look) was uncalled for. At any rate, I’m getting off track here.

The point is, I love to watch people. Especially teenage girls. I think this is probably because I was uncomfortable in my own skin growing up. When I was young, I always wanted to be somebody else because I was not happy with who I was. And I wonder about the young girls I see today. I wonder if they’re comfortable in their own skin, or if they want to be somebody else, too. I would venture to say, it’s the latter. Because what I notice about packs of young girls, is that they look the same. They wear their hair in a similar fashion, their clothing could be interchangeable, and they talk alike. They usually prefer the same music and have the same affectations. Basically, they prove the saying, “You are who your friends are.” And I believe that saying to be very true. I think you do become like who you spend the most time with. Because I lived it out for most of my formative years. When I was in my early twenties, a person pointed out to me that I was like a chameleon, changing my personality to fit who I was with. At the time, I felt anger at the observation, but now that I’m older I see that it’s true. And even now, I find a residual trace of longing within me. See, I want to be liked. By everyone. And so, I may feel out the crowd, and may or may not say something, depending on who I’m with. And so this behavior begs the question, “Am I still uncomfortable in my own skin?”

You know, the Bible is filled with conversations between God and His people. I can scan the pages of Scripture and eavesdrop on conversations that took place long ago, and not even feel bad for doing it (unlike recently, when my ears perked up at a restaurant as I listened to the four women behind me). And I think that in doing this… searching God’s word, that is… I will come to feel comfortable in my own skin. I think the more I listen in on conversations of old, the more I will find out about who I am today. Because what God had to say to His people, and what He felt for them so long ago, hasn’t changed… because He is the same. And so, through a conversation that took place between God and Moses, I learn a lot about God… and a lot about me. It’s through their banter that I find out just who I am to God. This is what I overheard:

The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. And Moses pleaded with God, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” God answered, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. For you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses went a step further… he asked that God please show him His glory. And God allowed it. God said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock and so it shall be that while My glory passes by that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand…” And so, Moses rose early in the morning to meet with God on Mount Sinai. God descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and He proclaimed to Moses His very nature. (Exodus 33)

God spoke to Moses. He stood with Moses and revealed things about His nature to him. Because they were friends. God said, “I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD.” Numbers 12:8. See, Moses spent time with God. He had a real relationship with Him, and took the the time to know God and what He cared about. And what was important to God became important to Moses. And isn’t that how it is for us today… with those that we have intimate relationships with? Don’t we spend time with our friends, talking to them and listening to what they have to say? Don’t we care about what they do? And so, from this conversation between two friends, God and Moses, I see this is exactly what He wants from us today… our friendship. In addition to everything else that He is to us, He wants to be our friend. And it’s here in this truth that I can become comfortable in my own skin. It’s here that I can find my identity.

You know, I feel for the young girls I see today. Because I remember. I know how hard it is growing up, and wanting to be liked by everyone. I know what it’s like to run after everything or everyone searching for an identity. Because that’s what I did for so very long. I just didn’t like who I was. Even today, there are things I wish I could change. But you know, I have a good Friend and He has my back… He has me covered. He loves me and cares about what I do, and He knows me by name. It’s in God that I find my true identity. And if I ever forget… if I begin to feel insecure and that I don’t measure up, He will comfort me. He will remind me of just who I am… in Him.