Today Mary Carlisle Crehore from the RUF campus ministry at the University of Texas is with me as my second Face Time podcast guest. She knows well the pressure to be perfect – the same goal so many teen and college girls are striving to attain. But Mary Carlisle can now reflect back on her years in high school and as a Vanderbilt University student to see the self-imposed standards she was living under for what they were. You will hear her talk honestly about the shame she carried, and the anxiety and fear that stole peace from her in the quest for perfection.
In case you missed the first episode with Martha Kate Stainsby on trying to be good enough as it relates to self-worth, body image and eating disorders you can listen to it: here. The idea behind each of these podcasts is to share the stories of young adult women who endured past struggled with various issues common to teen girls.
I hope for the parent listener and for the teenager, you will glean insight into the mindset (or the root) underneath these struggles as you listen to my guests discuss the lies they were believing about themselves and how they tried to secure an identity in false ways. And then as you hear how the reorienting truth of who Jesus is broke into their hearts, my prayer is you will feel better equipped and hope-filled to speak the gospel into the heart of your daughter or to yourself.
Thank you, Mary Carlisle, for sharing your story!
To learn more about RUF, the college ministry Mary Carlisle was apart of as a college student and now as an intern go to: RUF.org
Today marks a new beginning. A clean slate. A fresh start. A time for change. A renewed hope. Day One. One for Resolutions.
Resolutions that often include eating healthier and exercising more. At least for a few weeks – maybe longer. May have been the same thing last year and at various times throughout the year.
Our health, more so our weight – no, really, what we look like and how we are viewed by others is an obsession.
So we get on the scale. Check our BMI and monitor our heart rate. Count calories, fat grams, fiber and sodium. We look at our FitBits and track our progress. Then with all this collected data we determine if it was a “good” or “bad” day. And we judge ourselves “good” or “bad” accordingly.
Now I’m not saying there is no place for keeping tabs on any of this. Afterall, one of the many hats I wear is that of a personal trainer so seeing people achieve goals and adopt healthy lifestyles is something I enjoy. What if though this year instead of focusing so much on all these numbers we resolved to stop basing our worth on them?
You are so much more than a number. But don’t we all at times base our identity on one?
Has your mood been adversly affected after you stepped on the scale to see a number you didn’t like? Have you gotten depressed if a certain size clothing doesn’t fit?
Or for you it may not be your size, but what about the size of your paycheck? The number of vacations or square footage of your house?
Do you aim to post pictures and make comments on social media that will bring you the most number of “likes” or retweets?
Do you think being a successful mom comes in the number of Pinterest projects you implement?
You see we all do it in various ways and at different times. We base who we are on a number of things other than Christ. Depending on what that is – “good” or “bad” – is then how we see ourselves and perhaps judge others.
What if instead we saw the fallacy in our thinking and countered it with who Christ decalres us to be?
What if instead we spent more time in His Word and in prayer, filling our minds with His truths, than counting all these other things?
Wouldn’t it be freeing to rest in Him and know we are secure instead of basing our standing on how we feel like we are performing?
The next time you feel shame because you ate too many calories and think you have to go run five miles, what if instead you really believed you are forgiven and loved and perfectly made in His image?
What if the next time you begin comparing yourself to others based on whatever number you instead identify the ‘not measuring up thoughts’ as Satan’s whispering lies?
This is gospel-living applied everyday. If we don’t go back to the cross, we won’t know how to self-talk ourselves out of these worthless sinful spirals. We must see again and again who He is for us.
That the Creator of the Universe enfleshed Himself and came down from heaven to live among sinners in order to call sinners His friend. And in becoming His friend, we are called Redeemed and Restored, Loved and Forgiven, Chosen and Cherished, Sons and Daughters of the King!
Use this as a spring-board and go to the Word to find who else He says we are. Even better, go to the Word and discover who He is. And when you are struggling with shame and guilt and worthlessness and failure, dwell on these things.
Wouldn’t this be the most Worth-while Resolution?!
“I certify that I have handed over my (child) to custody… I solemnly promise that I shall never interfere with (him/her) in any way in future.”
Such signed statements served to sever the rights of thousands of unwed young mothers in Ireland starting in the 1950s. These young ladies, many disowned from their families, had been sent to live in convents because of the sin and shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and had no choice in signing authority over to the nuns.
Likewise, the girls were forced to stay at the workhouses, even after delivering the babies, working in the laundries, kitchens or fields as pentance, with just a short amount of time each day with their children. All the while the nuns were quietly arranging over-seas adoptions, selling the children to Americans, with no regard to the natural bonding occuring between mother and child.
Philamena Lee was one of those mothers. The real-life lady behind journalist Martin Sixsmith’s book The Lost Child of Philamena Lee and Judi Dench’s role in her Oscar-worthy performance in the movie: Philamena.
If you are familiar with either, you know that Philamena privately grieved the loss of her son for 50 years before finally confiding in her grown children the secret of their half-brother. While the order of real life events is slightly altered for the silver screen, my purpose in writing about it is not plot detail, but to draw attention to the shame she suffered.
Obviously I am not condoning teen pregnancy, but the way Philamena was treated led to the loss of her family’s love, the loss of her son and the loss of her faith (though that is not accurately accounted for in the movie but a fact I learned in an interview she gave.)
What happened to hate the sin, love the sinner?
Do we really love the sinner?
Do we even know how?
Too often I think we justify not reaching out in love or we dismiss someone because we don’t want to be assosiated with “those” sinful people. I am not just talking about out-of-wedlock relations, but anyone with different beliefs, lifestyle or behavior.
Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus came for sinners. And the law-abiding Pharisees were appalled. But this is what Jesus said to them:
“Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” Luke 11:39-41
Are we so foolish to think we are sinless and not without the same need for Christ to make us clean? No matter how much behaving rightly or “good” we do, we all have hidden motives, idolatrous hearts and will never perfectly love God and others as we are called. Until we see this, see that we are all sinners in the same boat, then we will never extend grace and mercy to others. We will never build a rapport and be able to effectively enter in to help.
Christians talk big about “being a witness” for Christ. But who is it we are witnessing about- our goodness or His?
As long as we think we can live the perfect life, we are no different from the Pharisees and will keep others in their shame. But when we see with unveiled faces how desperately we too need a Savior, then we have a hope to offer to those who feel as Philamena did…hope in the One who took all our shame and nailed it to the cross so that we could be free from it!