This is a guest post from my dear friend Brett. I met Brett when I was 13 years old. We were both on a missions trip to Mexico for the whole summer of 1992. She was my first tent mate at a very wet and soggy boot camp in Florida where we prepared for our mission. We'd wake up every day at 5am and hold the flashlight for each other as we tried to get dressed, lacing up 8 inch construction boots, and out of the tent in a matter of minutes in order to make it to the obstacle course on time--where we always disqualified ourselves.
Please welcome our guest blogger, Brett! Read and be challenged and enjoy!
I am a big believer that semantics exist. You know…the whole idea that one word can mean something very different from one person to the next. A word might have either a positive or negative connotation, depending on whom you ask.
Take the word “repentance” for example. What feelings, emotions or memories does that powerful (sometimes polarizing!) word evoke? To many people, extremely abrasive and in-your-face images pop into their minds; e.g. “Turn or Burn” bumper stickers on vehicles or street-corner evangelists yelling at the top of their lungs, attempting to shove their message of “Repentance” onto innocent passers-by.
Well, repentance has a very different meaning to me than these examples. So before you stop reading this because I used the “R-word”, please give me a moment to explain where I’m coming from.
I’m going to dive right into the deep end with you – share my raw heart. My motivation for doing this is to demonstrate just how UN-religious “repentance” truly is….and I’m gonna offer part of my own personal story as an example to share where I’m coming from.
I have had a very painful past; overall a very difficult life. I have experienced just about every kind of abuse possible, I think: sexual, physical, emotional, & spiritual. Unfortunately - on more than one occasion - emotional, sexual AND spiritual abuse were all mixed together in one slimy package - and I was its unsuspecting, trusting victim. Ugh! So incredibly slimy. All of these experiences have been gut-wrenchingly traumatic, & ultimately dumped LIES into my mind & soul about where my worth comes from. Its outcome is that I have believed that I am hard to love...if not COMPLETELY unlovable.
Yes, there has been much damage done TO me by others. But what I want to address here is the part I did to MYSELF as a result of that pain & trauma.
You see, I perpetuated the abuse that I had experienced….to myself. Though the abusers were long gone, the utter VIOLENCE of that abuse remained. VIOLENCE was now embedded into my brain, morphing itself into deeply-seated (seeded?) lies about myself, which I have believed for Way. Too. Long.
So what is this “violence” I am referring to?
I have literally HATED MYSELF all these years. I’m tired of believing I am hard to love, difficult to love, impossible to love…right where I’m at. I’m tired of believing that I will love myself much more when I am a certain weight, when I look that “certain way”. Though it’s never been proven to be true, I have believed it, nevertheless. Crazy as it sounds, I have reached the goal of looking that “way”, many times throughout life, yet my self-hatred level soared higher than ever. So I know it doesn’t bring happiness or love, but I still have believed it. Those lies planted years ago are deeply rooted …painfully deep.
All these years, Evil has used both people and the lies in my head to entice me into believing countless lies about myself & my “unlovability”. Those lies have greatly affected my actions. I’ve been all-too-eager to willingly engage in various violent thoughts, & perform acts of violence on my body. I have hurt it over & over for not being “perfect” enough, for denying me the love - I believed - it should “earn” on my behalf. It is no understatement to say that I have HATED my body, my very self.
Trying to squeeze myself into the box of perfection and crazy high standards
of what every woman is told she "should" be.
Now back to REPENTANCE….
So what in the world does that word & concept mean to a woman like me? Repentance is more than “turning away from wrongdoing or sin”. It is more than “saying sorry” to someone I wronged or to God.
I believe REPENTANCE is actually a call to KICK SOME MAJOR ASS!
I’m kicking ass by refusing to worship at the altar of “perfection”, in any form.
I am tearing down the “wallpaper of my mind” that tells me I need to BE more _______ (fill in the blank…pretty, thin, perfect, etc., etc.) That wallpaper is NASTY and long-overdue for renovation. It has been there for so long, folks, that I haven’t even realized it was there…it had become so much a part of my person.
Most of all, I’m kicking ass by being KIND…..
|Choosing to stand up--becoming brave enough to come outside the box!|
Repentance means I will be kind, gentle, and patient with myself now….right where I am. I am choosing to believe that God loves me right where I am. Today. Now. Did you know He’s actually pretty crazy about me? RIGHT NOW?
Yes! I am incredibly lovable now….imperfections, foibles, cellulite, quirks, stretch marks & all. This, dear friends, is the new, improved “wallpaper of my mind”!
It is said, “The KINDNESS of God leads us to repentance”. (Romans 2:4) Get that? It’s not the condemnation of God that leads us to change…nor His judgment. Not His confrontation. Not His-being-super-hard-on-us-&-showing-us-how-much-harder-we-need-to-work, in-order-to-be-perfect-&-worthy-of-love.
Sure, negative self-talk may temporarily bring change into your life. It has served me quite well, to be honest. Trust me – you will get results to be “hard” on yourself, by being mean to yourself….I am living proof. If you despise your thighs enough you can propel yourself to shrink them...regardless of the cost. If you loathe your postpartum stomach enough you can likely tone & flatten it, using self-hatred as high-octane fuel. But I’m ready for peace, joy & Truth to reign in my heart, not negativity & hate. Self-hatred has been a poor excuse of a “friend” to me.
On a practical level, being kind to myself would include the following: taking time to exercise (but not too much, as I can tend to do), choose healthy food to fuel my body (yet not over-fueling OR under-fueling it), painting my toenails every once in awhile (even though my feet are callus-ridden and far from pedicure-perfect). Repentance is also wearing the fun clothes that remain in my closet & even pretty underwear, which often go unworn because I do not feel “worthy”, “pretty”, or “skinny” enough to dress my body with such nice adornments. The lies in my mind have told me that my body is not to be enjoyed or celebrated; that it is ugly & forever needs to seek perfection & work harder to be loved. Therefore, repentance means I CELEBRATE who I am & what I look like TODAY, because I truly am loved for who I am. And my actions of being kind to myself & taking care of myself are proof that I am loved….right now & for who I am at this very moment.
Bring on the kindness. Bring on repentance. Bring on tenderness.
Continue to bring true beauty into my life, in exchange for all the ashes I’ve experienced.
I’m ready to change.
|Finally kicking the HELL out of the box!|
[You can reach Brett at firstname.lastname@example.org]