So when bad things happen to us in our lives, what do we do?  We are taught to forgive people for their wrongdoings, and then move on with our lives right? Just forget it happened, don’t dwell on the past, bury it deep so they can’t hurt us anymore, put up walls to protect ourselves from any further hurts, remain guarded and stone-like…don’t let anyone get too close.1013334_48782073

I had that attitude for a long time in my life after I was continuously hurt by the church and the people around me growing up.

So much so that I learned not to trust, not to forgive and not ever to forget.

I recently went to a church service where the pastor was so refreshingly transparent and spoke honestly about the subject of forgiveness.  He explain to us what Biblical forgiveness looked like and how to practice it in our own lives.

Forgiveness is a hard subject, and society is getting it all wrong.  Our culture teaches us to seek revenge and get people back for what they did to us.  Culture teaches us that for Christians, we should forgive and forget. To turn the other cheek and pretend it never happened.

Well, that is wrong.  The Bible teaches us that we are to go to the person who wronged us, tell them of their offense and extend forgiveness to them in hopes for the relationship to be restored.  The rest is on them to apologize sincerely with repentance.

So that sounds easier to say than to do.

I have had to forgive many people in my life. Sometimes the same people over and over again.  It’s not easy. What I want to do is be angry at them, speak bad about them to anyone who will listen and hope that they have something bad happen to them.
But what does that do to me?

When I harbor resentment, anger and hostility towards my offenders, it eats me up on the inside.  Not forgiving someone only leaves me more hurt.  It’s only when I release those feelings and extend grace and forgiveness to the other person that I am truly free of the pain it has caused me.

As I was listening to the pastor speak this past weekend, I realized that when I was looking to start this ministry for Pastors Daughters, some of my motivation involved the pain and hurts that I experienced from the church.  I was smacked in the face with the fact that I hadn’t truly released all of that pain by extending forgiveness to those people.  The fact that I could still feel the pain and draw up the emotions of when I was 15 made me wonder if I had been holding on to some of the pain and resentment instead of offering grace.

So before I took communion that morning, I asked God to help me to completely forgive, to extend grace to ALL those who had hurt me in my past.  To help me break down my walls even further and soften my heart from the inside out.  To heal all of the broken places and fill them in with His love.

I don’t want to be one of those bitter people that hold on to all the past wrongdoings and keep score with people who have hurt me. What kind of life is that? So weighed down by all that anger that we’re carrying, unable to live life to the fullest?

So what do you do when someone has hurt you so bad that you couldn’t imagine ever forgiving them?

You have to keep yourself open for saying “I can’t” NOT  “I won’t” .

See what this amazing pastor taught us this week is that saying “I can’t” means just that, that you can’t extend forgiveness on your own, and maybe not at this time, but you are willing to try with help.  Asking God to help you, asking trusted close friends or a good counselor to help you move in that direction.  Wounds that deep take time to be able to forgive.  We were not created to be able to deal with such deep pain and hurt.  God can help us to process and start the road to forgiveness and extension of grace, which will begin the healing process in our lives.

The bitterness will take over someone who says “I won’t”.  The pain will last forever and the hurt will grow deeper as this person saying “I won’t” continues to harbor and hold onto the offense.  There can be no healing in the life of this person.  So if you’re in that spot, work really hard to move from “I can’t” to “I won’t”.

It’s two little words that make all the difference in how the rest of your life will play out.

Forgiveness is a journey. Not something that happens quickly or easily, but it is important in our lives.  Stop holding onto the pain, release it and enjoy living your life free to soar

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Beauty

So the teen years are a hard time for anyone.  All the changes going on physically, emotionally, mentally and socially can be quite daunting.  I struggled deeply with self-image and self-esteem issues while in my pre-teen, teen and young adult years.   I was just talking the other day with a ministry partner about my ninth grade year.

I had long, curly red hair all through growing up, entering Ninth Grade, my hair was down to the middle of my back.  One day I decided, with the “help” of a friend of mine, to cut all my hair off up to above my ears and shave the back of my head down to the skin, half way up the back of my head!  When I went downstairs, my mother told me not to come back down until I had glued all of my hair back on!

See, my self esteem was so low, that I just didn’t care what I looked like anymore. I could have shaved my whole head bald and not even flinched.  When I looked in the mirror, I hated what stared back at me, so I did things to change my look, and often.  I was searching for that magical thing that would make me like what I saw in my reflection.

I searched for ways to make myself feel better, I wore lower cut shirts, and higher cut shorts and skirts, to the point where there was nothing left to the imagination at all. I flashed my boobs at parties and tried to always have the best cleavage possible in an outfit. I felt that God had given my bigger boobs, so that was a great way to get the attention that I was looking for.

I flirted a lot with any boys who would give me the time of day, offering things that should have been left alone.

I didn’t care though.

I didn’t care about anything, especially not myself.

That stupid reflection in the mirror, staring back at me, reminding me of how empty I felt inside and how lonely and desperate I was to be considered beautiful.

When I look today back at my Ninth Grade yearbook photo, I can see the hurt, the emptiness and the self hate in my eyes.  I was a mess in the picture, didn’t even comb my hair for it, didn’t wear anything special, didn’t even really smile.  I just look haunted.

At the heart of it all, the low self esteem and poor selMIRRORf-image, was that I was searching for beauty in all the wrong places.  I wanted people to like me and find me attractive.  I was comparing myself, as many young women do, to what I saw on TV, in magazines, on the runway and in all the commercials.  I was comparing myself to women that had completely different body types than myself, different skin tones, hair colors and muscle-tones.  Not to mention all the post-editing that the images go through before they are published.  (Now that I own Photoshop, I truly see how much you can do to alter any image you want to make it look “perfect”)

True beauty doesn’t come from Photoshop though, it comes from within.  Real beauty is not skin deep, it starts in our hearts and then shines through to the outside.  God created every person on earth in His perfect image. He carefully crafts each one of us while we are in the womb.  He is a God that doesn’t make mistakes. You are the way God wants you to be.

I am exactly the way that God wants me to be, I am a perfect masterpiece of His beautiful handiwork.  I wish I could go back 20 years to my Ninth Grade self and tell myself that truth.

I wonder how much heartache, pain and bad choices could have been avoided in my own life had I truly understood where beauty comes from.  I think I might have cared less about what the world thought of me and more about that reflection in the mirror staring back at me.  I would have realized hopefully that I needed to develop more of my inner beauty and love for myself than to keep changing my outside appearance.

To be quite honest, the wounds that happened to me during my teen years followed me well into my twenties, and even into my early thirties.  I have a wonderful husband who has always told me I was beautiful, many times a day even.  But it was all falling on deaf ears.  I was scarred, the paths had been set and I am a very stubborn and strong willed person, those paths were hard to break.

My husband just asked me yesterday when things changed for me, because I am not the same broken person that I was for all those years.   I hadn’t really thought about it until then, but the answer was when my world went crashing down and God broke me into a billion pieces during a long stretch with depression about two years ago.

There will be more about that story in another post, but for now,  I learned that God is the only answer to the longing that we have inside to feel whole and to find our true beauty.   It’s only in and through Him that we can see how He uniquely created us in His perfect image, and that is where our beauty lies.

So stop looking to the world to find your beauty. Stop staring into the mirror, longing to be someone else, or look like someone else.   You are BeYOUtiful just as you are.

Be YOU tiful- meaning discover who you truly are inside, make that shine on the outside and the world will see your true beauty!!

I would love to help you on the path of discovering your true inner beauty, I have been there, I was on the journey by myself, I would love to walk beside you on your own journey. Please feel free to send me a comment with your email address and I will get a hold of you.

Blessings to you all, Daughters of the King!!

 

Deception

One of the things I struggled with the most growing up in the spotlight of the church was knowing who my real friends were.  I always had tons of friends, my house was a main hang out spot in my teen years, but of all of those “friends” that I had, 20 years later I only still speak to less than a handful.

It’s interesting to me that even at that young age, people were always working the angles, figuring out what they could get out of the relationship or how they could increase their status.

I know for a fact that a few of the kids that I hung around with were only there out of obligation from their parents to up their status in the church and with my parents.  It “looked good” for them to be friends with me. People didn’t think that I knew that fact, but I wasn’t stupid. I just didn’t know what to do about it.

I was always very popular in my youth group, until I went to college, I thought it was my amazing personality and charming good looks…(did I mention I was a little stuck up at times?) After arriving at college 800 miles away, which in itself is a whole other story, I began to look back at my high school experience. It was then that I came to the sudden realization that I was only popular in my youth group because of who my father was. They HAD to be nice to me, or it would reflect bad on their families. I remember a time in our youth group band, I asked to sing and they said yes!! Now, I love to belt one out for God and praise and worship His Name, but to be completely honest, I can’t carry a tune! Why would they let me sing, and in public??? Because they HAD to. I asked, it was given. I never really earned anything, it was handed over. All to keep up appearances and to stay in the pastor’s good graces.

This left me with a very empty feeling, still to this day in my mid thirties, I struggle with trusting people. I am always in the back of my mind wondering what they really want. This has left me with fewer close friends and relationships.

I know this is also what my father and mother experienced all their lives too, people that just wanted to be their “friends” to get closer to the pastor’s family and look good!

So that’s left me to be a very good weeder, I tend to weed out the people in my life that are not in it for the right reasons. It’s taken me a long time to build the skills needed to see through the sheep’s clothing and see the wolf inside, the skills to see this quickly and keep from being deceived and hurt once again.

I thank God that He opened my eyes to the deception and has healed me of those past hurts from false relationships.

 

The Awakening

Do you ever have those moments in life when your eyes are suddenly opened to all that has been happening to you all along and 1425667_beautiful_sunsetyou just didn’t see it?

I had one of those moments, but the awakening happened slowly over a course of a month or so at the end of my eighth grade year. I started hearing comments being made and names being called in my direction.  I realized I was being treated differently than other girls my age, even being treated differently by my “friends”.  I’m sure it was like that from the start, but I just was too naive to see it.

The comments and names started to sink in, a label was being formed, a big sign was being hung from my neck, it read “PK”. What that meant to the world was that I was different, I was not like others my age, and that included treating me as such.  Now it was bad enough in my mind that I had be “blessed” with a full head of curly red hair and “spoon” thumbs, but up until then I didn’t know what my father did for a living made me an outcast among my peers and my church.  That one hit deeper than I realized.

Why were people looking at me like that, why did the people in my church have disapproving looks when I passed by, why were my peers calling me names, why did my friends seem to keep me at a distance and only get so close….why hadn’t I NOTICED any of this before?  It was done though, my eyes had been opened, I had been awakened to reality. Gone were my little girl days of carefree living and happy days filled with laughter and fun. (I actually remember a moment prior to this year that I was swinging in my backyard, in the early evening, just singing songs as loud as I could, having no care in the world, happy as could be)

This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, the darkest chapter I would live through.

I began my journey of trying to reclaim normalcy.  I wanted to be the typical teenager, the typical girl entering high school in the fall, the typical girl that cute boys would want to date and take to the prom one day.  I tried desperately to erase the huge label that had been put on me “PK”. I wanted everyone to know that I was more than just what my father did for a living.  But no one could see it, all they saw was my label and my position in the church.

The worst part was, the more I let the label of “PK” affect me negatively, the farther I grew from God, my Faith and the church. A deep resentment for all things “Christian” was being formed, I started to not care about anything and anyone, and seek any way I could to escape and feel numb.

I wanted to scream most days, I had no one to turn to, NO ONE understood what I was experiencing on the inside.  I held all of my hurts, my pains and my loneliness inside.

That’s when I learned how to put on all of my masks to hide behind to shield me from it all…

 

Just the Beginning

It’s funny how and where God speaks to you. Most recently God spoke to me in the ER in Downtown Grand Rapids.  It’s also funny how God uses pain in your life for His glory. While I was in the ER being treated for abdominal pain that had been progressively getting worse over a four month time period, I had one of those conversations with my Dad that would change the course of my life.

My story actually starts about 20 years ago in the summer of my eighth grade year.  I was a perfect angel up until then, for the most part living up to the standards and the expectations that had been placed on me.  Attending all of the functions, the activities and the services that were asked of me, I didn’t really put up much of a fight. Everything changed during that summer.

What is the role of a Pastors Daughter? Be a perfect little princess that is a beautiful reflection of the church her father is leading.  Well, I was done with that life. I snapped.  The bar was set too high, I kept missing it and then I quit trying.

I wanted to feel like a normal teenage girl.

No one understood what I was experiencing.

Please look at me like a typical teen, not someone with PK written across my forehead.

Who do I turn to to talk about all of this?

So what do you do when you feel left out of life? You do anything and everything to fit in! That’s what I did.

And that was only the beginning…Final BD Logo