Saturday, November 26, 2011

Caught in the Inbetween

I am really passionate about girls.  That may sound kind of weird, but it's really not.  I am passionate about girls experiencing a God found security.

Let me tell you something, girls are mean.  We (yes, I put myself in this) put each other down and have judgmental thoughts that pass through our minds.  I think that a lot of this mannerism comes from a deep rooted insecurity that lies within us as girls.  

This is something that really got to me over the summer when I work day in and day out with 11-15 year old girls.  Each session we had a Girl's Night.  Now although Girl's Night isn't the best night of the week activities wise, for me it is often my favorite.  Every night we do a devotional as a cabin where we get to talk about anything that our cabin wants to, or that we as counselors feel is something the girls need to hear.  On this particular night, something that we often talked about was "girl's stuff".  This could range from anywhere to boys (although this was usually a separate devo), to what we generally focused on, which was self image.  

From the beginning us girls are told that we have to look a certain way (including but not limited to: weight, boob size, hair, makeup, clothes, etc), act a certain way and think a certain way.  Growing up in North Dallas where my zip code was often called "the new 90210", I know this first hand.  I have seen 12 year old girls walking around in Juicy Couture sweats, with Coach bags and bragging about the new IPhone they just got.  I have struggled with my weight in trying to fit into a world where I felt like I wasn't worth anything unless I looked a certain way.  I have fallen victim to the world telling me that I had to change who I was in order for "good" things to happen, like falling in love, or fitting into a crowd that I thought I wanted to be friends with.  

During these devos we allow the girls to open up and we ourselves do too.  So often we forget that we need to be willing and able to be vulnerable to give others the okay to vulnerable around us.  During my last Girl's Night my co started the night by asking the girls to go around in a circle and say what their biggest insecurities were.  With the exception of maybe 2 out of 17 of these 12-13 year olds, they all said that they were insecure about their weight.  I don't know about you, but that makes me sad.  

When I had the oldest girls (ages 14-15), we took them to the dining hall one night and had an ultra special devo with them where we made smores in this microwave (and I tried oreos and peanut-butter for the first time... heaven on earth!!!!).  During this time we allowed them to ask us any question they wanted to.  What we ended up talking about for the majority of this time was self-image and insecurities. So many of them were struggling with what they looked like, one going on a lot about it and telling us how she tried to hide her stomach because she was so insecure about it.  The big difference between this age and the younger girls mentioned before is that while those girls were just insecure about it, these older girls had more of a grasp on their self worth.  They had a knowing that they were worth something and that they were worth something because of God's individual love for them.

As I have talked about before in this blog, insecurity is something that I have struggled a lot with in my life.  Thoughts of "I'm not good enough", "I will never get a boyfriend",  and others along those lines have a habit of making themselves come up in my head.  But then I think about it...

God created you and me to be secure.  He created us to love ourselves, not to be cocky, but to be humble and realize that we were created by God.  We were and ARE created wonderfully and fearfully in the image of our gigantic God.  How amazing is that?  And because of that, who are we to say or think that we are not good enough?  Who am we to think that our security is bound to another person's perception of us, whether it be a boyfriend or girls at school?  Who are we to doubt that we were created for a purpose?  Who are we to think that God doesn't have someone destined for us in the long run, after all the pain?

That's right.... we shouldn't think that.  God is so big and so majestic.  This is a God who created the earth and all things in it.  A God who loves so completely that he made every person just the way He wanted them: short or tall, white or black, gay or straight (yes, I am taking that stance).

So when I go through challenges that present themselves, I stand in front of my mirror and say to myself, "I am beautiful.  I am so so so loved and have a great support system of friends and family.  God has a plan for my life even though I have no idea what that is right now.  I love me".
... and I believe it.

My goal in life is to try to get other girls to believe this too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Breath

"People who keep diaries are the happiest," Tyra Banks

I am a writer.  I like to record my memories.  But not so much even that as writing in a journal or a diary is almost therapeutic for me.  At this camp I went to in high school, we had prayer partners.  My prayer partner at my second one of these weekends bought me a journal.  I made it my goal to write in it every once and a while, particularly my prayers.  Sooner or later this became habitual and something that I came to really enjoy doing.  I have kept some sort of journal since my sophomore or junior year of high school.  There are about 6 of them on my book shelves at home and in Waco.

At camp these past two summers I kept my journal with me constantly.  I was careful not to show it to people, because there was private stuff in there, but it was and is very important to me.  In the journal are private thoughts of things I have struggled with, prayers, little fun tad bits about the summer and different cabins I had, and just fun stuff like a "Lizzie's Bucket List" I made with some of my campers! My journal this summer is a documentation of how God worked in my life and brought someone special into it!

Usually I hate reading my old journals.  I dislike looking back on the stuff I went through and how "dramatic" I was (but really... ).  It just makes me aggravated with myself.  Usually I only look back through them if there is something in particular I want to look at.  (Someone told me once that they burn their old journals.... not me!)

Today I was packing for Thanksgiving break and decided that it would be fun to look for a certain event in my journal.... turns out I have that once in Plano, BUT it was really interesting.  I forget all the fun parts of looking back on this stuff.  Although I may not be proud of things I've done in the past, it is good to look back and see how much I have grown throughout the years, even just since I entered college.  I feel like I have grown a lot emotionally over the past year, and it is really cool to have documentation.

I picked one journal up and realized that it was from my freshman year at Baylor.  I started to read and realized that I was at a not-so-good part of my life at this point.  I was struggling a lot with self-esteem and self-worth.  I was really down on myself about some thing that had recently taken place with a friend... seems so stupid now.

BUT I found this list below.  I remember how long it took for me to write it, but it still stands true!

"Reasons I love me:
1) I try to include other people and generally don't feel good when I don't.
2) I'm a planner.  I like to figure out how things are going to work together to make something (a party, gather) work.
3) If I really want something I will work towards trying to get it.
4) I'm talented.  Even though I often don't feel like it, I am a good singer, handbell player, pianist, writer, artist, dancer, etc.
5) I don't get embarrassed easily, and when I do, I often shrug it off.
6) I'm not going to settle for less that I deserve when it comes to relationships.
7) I give people multiple chances.
8) I try not to judge people based upon what they've done or are (gay, race, etc).  God called us to love and that is the greatest commandment!
9) I'm dedicated to what I do (most of the time anyway) and don't like quitting.
10) I have a pretty good memory... that can also be a curse.

I am beautifully and wonderfully made by the creator of the whole wide universe!  I am his and only his and forever his! :-)"

Sometimes I like looking back at these entries and realize how wise I was in those moments.  I may have gone through a lot that led to entries like this... but I'm glad they're there because they definitely help me still today, a year and a half later!