Lord help me! It’s been another crazy week of work and juggling responsibilities and family and a sick grandbaby. But for the next few minutes I’m going to block all of that out because I have something wonderful I want to share with you.
I told you on Monday that this past weekend a war waged in my mind, and I was struggling with the lie that no one would ever take me seriously if I was overweight. What I should have said was no one would ever take me seriously if I was imperfect because it seems to me that what I’m trying to achieve is perfection: the perfect body, the perfect personality, the perfect performance, and so on and so on (you know Mother Theresa, except with a Victoria Secret super model body).
The problem is I’m never going to achieve this physical nirvana I have searched for my whole life. And why is it so important? It’s important because I have believed the lie that as long as I’m perfect, people won’t leave me. You see at my core I struggle with abandonment issues. The struggle is real and it is deep and it goes way back and spans four decades. That’s why it seemed crazy to me that the first synonym under sacrifice was abandon.
I have been studying a passage in the book of Matthew that talks about a rich, young man who came to Jesus and asked what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus told him he had to keep the commandments. The man said he had kept all of them since birth. Jesus said, “Okay, if you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you own and give it to the poor.” The Bible says the man walked away extremely sad because he was very rich. The guy abandoned the idea of eternal life because it was too hard to be perfect. And he abandoned Jesus, the answer to his dilemma. Jesus turned and looked at his closest followers and said it is so hard for a rich man to find salvation. They asked Him, if it’s so hard how can anyone find it? And His response was everything is possible with God. (Matthew 19:16-30, New Century Version)
I feel like that rich man sometimes. I have been blessed with so much, but I’m still not perfect. The difference is my heart knows that my salvation (and success in this life) is completely dependent on the work of Jesus Christ at the cross (and the daily work of the Holy Spirit) in my life and NOTHING at all to do with my perfection.
It’s much easier to see if I look at this thing as an outsider. This week I chose to stop focusing on my body and to spend some time focusing on the bodies of five stunning women that have impacted my life greatly.
Never once in the entire time that I have known them have I thought, “They are of no use to me. Look at them. They don’t have perfect bodies.”
Meet Lori Deans. She has been my friend for almost 20 years. She is stunning. She would literally give me the shirt off her back if I asked for it. She has a heart as big as Texas. There was a time (about 15 years ago) that I found myself homeless and she opened her home to me for several months until I could get back on my feet. I mean, who does that? Beautiful people! People who are the hands and feet of Jesus. It has never occurred to me to say, “I can’t accept your kindness or be your friend because you’re not perfect.”
Meet Mary Lou Dickey. August will be three years ago that she took me on as her personal project. Just kidding! But God did place her in my life to be a perfect mentor for me. She’s honest and loving and dedicated. She has sacrificed many Saturdays to meet with me halfway between her house and mine at the McDonald’s in Hillsboro. She has a half of a century of experience and wisdom in all the areas that I looked for in a mentor. She is incredible and stunning. I would love to tell you how it came about that I found her, but I’ll save that treasure for another day. Never once in three years have I thought, “She’s too imperfect to be my mentor.”
This is my spiritual mama, Mrs. Sylvia Wolfe. She has been guiding me spiritually and praying for me for more than five years, probably more like seven or eight. I met her in the parking lot at church one day and told her that I had been praying for God to send some women to our church that could pour into me (we had a fairly young group at the time), and I was convinced that God sent her here just for me. She is a gift from God. I know that she is an absolute perfect answer to my prayers. Never once in all these years have I said, “Well, she’s just not skinny enough to lead me spiritually.” I can’t imagine how ridiculous that would sound. Isn’t she stunning?
This is Vanessa Lopez (and her awesome husband and their precious middle child)! She became my prayer partner two years ago. I never thought God could give me someone who would be willing to get up at 4:30am and call me to pray over all the things that I’m passionate about because she’s passionate about them, too! But here she is, in the flesh. She has a servant’s heart. She loves God and loves the families of Temple! She is a perfect example of God’s love to me. She puts herself last all the time to pour into others. She is a perfect example of sacrifice. She sacrifices for her family, for her church, and for me. Not one morning when my phone rings do I ever think, “I sure do wish she was prettier.” That would be outrageous! I couldn’t say that anyway. She’s already stunning.
And last (but not least) is my sweet friend Elizabeth! That’s her in the middle. (Stunning, right?) I’m on the far right and my daughter is on the far left and her little girl is at the bottom. This is a picture of us at my daughter’s baby shower last summer. She spent weeks planning for that shower, making invitations, decorating, cooking, and doing much more. That’s just a small example of her using her talents to serve others. I’ve known her for about six years now and she just gets me. She understands when I show her a video of a country song about your daughter getting married and I cry so hard I can’t even tell her why. She already knows. When I’m around her, I don’t have to pretend to be anything I’m not. She never judges me or makes me feel bad about not being good enough. I have never sat across from her at Denny’s eating breakfast and thought, “We could be such better friends if she would just lose a few pounds.”
I could go on and on. I have so many people in my life who (given the chance) I would not change one single hair on their head. Each of them sacrifice daily for their families, for their friends, for their communities, for their co-workers, for children, for their churches, and for me.
Each of them has taken time out of her life to pour into me. They have given up time with their families and with their jobs to listen to me cry, to pray with me, to provide support, and to love me without ever asking for one thing in return.
And just like all of these stunning ladies, I also have many beautiful friends (and one very special sponsor) who struggle with food issues of a different kind. And some that have no food issues at all. But none who is perfect.
Because of them I can stop listening to the lies. I can abandon the emotions that I have clung to for years that have fueled me to be a people-pleaser, a yes-woman. I can sacrifice for others. I can pour into them without thinking for one moment that I have to be a size 6 to make it all work.
I told you on Monday that God used the tomb of Christ to speak to me. I began to think about Jesus’s body. He was 33 when his body was beaten, mutilated, ridiculed, rejected, crucified, and abandoned in a tomb to be forgotten forever. And look how God used his body to be a vehicle for salvation. It has totally broken my pride.
Bonus: I know I only promised you five stunning women, but I’m afraid I have to show you one more!
This is my stunning mama! Her name is Deborah Hill and she is my biggest fan! She has known me for 40 years, 7 months, and 27 days. She has loved me unconditionally every single moment. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. At any moment of any day, I can crawl in her bed and snuggle up to her and she will rub my back, play with my hair, tell me I’m beautiful, and pray over my problems. Never once in 40 years, 7 months, and 27 days have I thought, “She would be a way better mom if she were just a little smaller.” Lord help me!
God, use my body to be a vehicle to love people. Use my body to be a vehicle to bring salvation to others. Let my body be a vehicle to bring little girls into a place of confidence and trust in Jesus. Lord, also use the bodies of every person reading this post to be vehicles carrying Your hope and grace to lost and hurting world. Change our minds about how we see ourselves. Let us sacrifice our pride and self-interest to show the love of Christ to others. Let us realize that these bodies are perfect for the job that You have called us to do, and only we can do it!
Be sure to join us Monday to hear Yvette continue the discussion on sacrifice!