Genesis 1:31

I’m surrounded by broken women. The world is filled to the brim with broken women. Not a single woman is safe from the daily disease of appearance. Women who don’t think they’re good enough exactly as they are made. Women who are constantly trying to change themselves or are envious of other girls because of x, y, and z.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need x, y, or z. In fact, you’re better off without those things, whatever just popped into your mind. Let me share a little about my struggle and how I personally discovered this.

As a petite woman, I often feel alone and singled out. I know there are plenty of others out there like me, but I’m hardly surrounded by any. Because of this, I feel out of place. Strangers make jokes about how young I look and I never feel like I have anyone to talk to, because it seems like no one understands the struggle of being so tiny. In fact, I’ve even had someone ask me if I was anorexic. I’ve noticed our society is not the most conscientious of petite women through clothing and social interactions.

This is not okay. While I understand why people say or act the way they do around me, here’s a couple things I want everyone to know about me as a petite woman:

-I beat myself up more than anyone else and that’s why it makes harmless or playful comments stand out. Oftentimes they’re thoughts that reflect my own thoughts towards myself and that’s really why they hurt me. However, I am working on building up my self-confidence.

-I should not have to justify my size in any type of environment (especially professionally) to be taken seriously.

Many times I’ve found myself thinking I should put more makeup on or wear taller shoes or dress a certain way. While none of those things are bad, the issue is I would find myself thinking these things because I felt like it was necessary to look older or be more mature. But what the heck does that even mean for a full-grown woman? Frankly, we probably just mean we want to look like that other woman. Even if you’re not petite like me, women are constantly trying to change themselves to fit a certain mold of what they consider ‘ideal’ or ‘successful.’ If we just do x, y, and z we feel we can be content with our body. Until then, we despise ourselves.

So this summer I decided I need a change in attitude. I want to fully respect my body for what it is, not what my flesh wants to be. I’m going to try to eat healthier, exercise more, and have proper self-care in every aspect of my physical being.

Okay, easier said than done. Anyone can say they want to truly love themselves starting now, but most people don’t come through. Why am I so set on this?

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I have one body. I will never have another one. This body is made to contain the Holy Spirit. This body is bigger than myself and my comparison or envy or discontentment. If I am to truly glorify God in my body, I need to love it wholeheartedly, with no strings attached. I know I’ll fail and I can’t perfect everything, but I want my body to have the love it deserves for its one lifetime.

Ladies, God made us just how he wants us and none of it is a mistake. I know it’s hard to believe and I know we will have our doubts, but remember: even our body is not about us. If we are to truly exemplify God’s love and our faith to others, we need to look at our authentic, non-accessorized selves and say “it is good.” We need to truly believe that.

~Annah

Our Broken, Violent World

Lately there have been more tragic and violent events occurring in our world. As I scroll through social media, all I can see is anger, sadness, and fear. How am I, as a Christian, supposed to react to these events?

In the midst of times like this—hearing about mass shootings and tragic deaths—it’s not easy to see God’s plan. How can there be meaning in the midst of violent chaos? How can these terrible events be part of God’s plan? Where is the good?

Violence is one of the many results of sin. We have turned away from God, causing our world to become a broken place. I have contributed to this, you have, we all have. This means sin, including violence, is inevitable. As much as we will try to stifle it, it cannot be stopped. We as humans are always trying to find a solution to everything. Humans are afraid of death and we will try to prolong it as much as possible.

So back to the initial question—how to react as a Christian? While it’s easy to be fearful, that’s not the answer. Hatred and vengeance towards those that have harmed us is not the answer. No, none of these emotional responses are the answer. They might be how our flesh desires to act, but as Christians, this should not be our response to violence.

“Behold, God is my salvation; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” ~Isaiah 12:2

We are not supposed to try to fix the world like humans are often inclined to do. We are to show others that we have hope beyond this world. Christians are to show each and every person on the planet that they are welcome to be with God after death, without pain or suffering.

I have hope in a God bigger than this world. He’s bigger than the struggles I go through and the daily violence throughout our planet. His love covers me and you. Daily he provides us with grace and mercy. He sent his son to die for us, so we can have this chance to end up somewhere better than here. We don’t deserve this love, but he pours it over us regardless. That is something worth telling others about.

~Annah

God’s Plan > My Plan

My church service last weekend was about our plan versus God’s plan for us. My devotionals have also centered quite a bit on this theme lately. It has made me realize that it’s something I’ve been struggling with frequently for many different reasons.

I’m a stubborn person who loves being in control. When things go wrong or occur differently than what I had in mind, it really rocks my world. I have trouble accepting God’s path for me sometimes. But at the end of the day, I know He has something far better in mind than I could ever imagine or comprehend.

For example, I started applying for summer jobs in late March. I thought I was golden—yet here I am in May still searching for work that I desperately need. I was supposed to have a job interview on Monday and it got pushed to Friday. Patience, seek Me. That’s what I hear God saying. My roommate is transferring to a different school and I’m going to miss her a lot. She was one of my only close friends at school. Trust me, I will provide. Lonely and anxious thoughts creep in at inopportune times. Hold on to me. Daily struggles.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” ~Isaiah 26:3

In one of my journal entries I stated, “Not a day will go by when things will go how I want them.” God loves to do all he can to remind me I’m not in control; no matter how hard I try to put to-do lists together. Numerous times He has closed doors when I’m not ready for them to close. But I know that with great faith and patience far greater doors will be opened.

God’s plan is not always easy—sometimes it’s a big pill to swallow. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, it won’t be comfortable. I don’t know what this summer is going to look like exactly. Considering what I know of my Heavenly Father, it could turn out completely different than anything I think at this point. All I know is God is constantly at work in my life and I can rest easy in that truth.

~Annah

My Freshman Year

I’ve always wanted to be honest with people. I think it’s very important as a Christian that I can be open about my struggles. While I don’t want to make any assumptions, my freshman year of college was probably different than most of my classmates and their experiences. I would not say it has a picture-perfect ending and I’m not completely satisfied. But I have grown and God has taught me more than I ever thought he would.

To be honest with you, my freshman year has been a struggle. Throughout the course of the year I probably would have told you it wasn’t going very well. Now that I’ve reached the end and seen the big picture, I understand why it all happened. The school year did not go how I thought it would, nor how I wanted it to, but it was perfectly in sync with what God wanted for me.

I knew coming to college would be tough, because I have never been one to enjoy growing up, and this marks a huge part of that process. I came into this world too soon, meaning I needed more attention than the average baby. I’m the youngest of four, which also means that I’ve grown up very dependent upon other people. When I was little, I remember I would go to basketball games with my family because my dad was a coach, and I couldn’t even go to the concessions stand alone, because I needed my mom with me. College means stepping out into the world as an individual and taking care of myself, and that has not been the easiest thing.

As this was my first year being away from home, I think it’s important that God has shown me many of my weaknesses. He has shed a light on sins I wasn’t willing to admit to before and he has shown me where I honestly need help. The first semester was rough because of the drastic transition and I cried so often. After doing work crew over the summer, which was life-changing, I think I figured my life was pretty great as it was and I was on a smooth path with my faith. God clearly has said no, I’m far from perfect, and I need Him every step of the way.

Like I said before, I started going to counseling this year for the first time. I had to admit to myself that I struggle with anxiety and now I don’t mind talking about my mental health at all.

God has helped me realize that I am very insecure about myself and my self-esteem is not where I want it to be. I have talked to my counselor about learning to tell people when I’m not okay with comments they make about me. My counselor told me about a situation where she was treated differently at a job because of her size. Sometimes it honestly does seem like petite people are treated differently in our society, and I hope I can become a voice for those who are petite someday.

I’m also not super close to many people here at school, which has been very challenging. Don’t get me wrong—I know so many lovely people. But oftentimes I find myself alone. I’ve eaten alone many times, I’ve gone to chapel alone a few times, and I’ve been to events by myself. It’s easy to look at these situations and think that they’re unfortunate. But it was necessary for me and I know God will provide in due time. He has already started to. I need to be confident in myself as an individual and my relationship with God first and foremost. These moments of solitude have been a good time to do that.

There have been many wonderful moments throughout the year as well. But overall it has not been easy, and I’m not going to pretend it was. My intention is not to make people feel sorry for me, but to be straightforward and vulnerable. I am thankful for what has happened. These challenges have helped me grow in ways I never thought imaginable.

That dependent little girl is becoming an independent woman in Christ. I’m just progressing at my own pace.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

This was not an easy post to write—this was an emotional post to write. But it’s something I felt obligated to write. I’ve always wanted to be a transparent writer.

~Annah

“Because God is graceful, I am Brave.”

My sister sent me a wooden plaque with these words on it and I am so thankful she did. It’s a great reminder.

For those of you who don’t know, I struggle with anxiety and am a bit of a hypochondriac. There is only a handful of people who actually knows this about me. But I want to be honest and share a little bit about my struggle with you.

I started going to counseling this semester because it was really starting to seep into many aspects of my life, especially with the huge transition to college. I have honestly cried more times this school year than ever before and my parents are wonderful for handling me during all of these tough times. But I am blessed to have my counselor, Daryn. She has been great at comforting me and letting me know that everything will be okay.

My case is not super severe, but my family and I agreed that it would be best to start taking care of it now, before it gets any worse. Your mental health is important.

The first time I noticed something abnormal was my sophomore year of high school. It was a rough year for me, with many issues piling on top of each other until one morning I woke up late for school and broke down. I started crying and hyperventilating, and it took me a long time to settle down.

Daryn told me that was a panic attack. I had two similar incidents after that, one while writing an English paper and the other after my baptism–the latter I found a bit odd. But Daryn informed me that they can occur during emotional moments too. Since my baptism a year and a half ago, I have not experienced any and I am incredibly thankful.

I am doing much better than I was last semester. However I am sure there will be tough days ahead of me. Anxiety is not something that just goes away, but it is a continual battle. There will be days when I overthink everything. There will be days when I have to convince myself I’m not dying or have a terminal illness. There will be days when going to bed is scary because it leaves too much room for my anxious thoughts.

BUT…

There is joy to be found.

Not a day will go by without the Lord by my side. I may fall prey to my anxiety sometimes, but God is good and He is graceful. God is jealous for me. He has me in the palm of His hand and He knows my inward parts. I am guaranteed victory in Christ.

“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:7

I am willing to take on this challenge with God directing me. I will be brave for Him.

~Annah

While I Weep

I sit here crying
Because they don’t know any better.

A ten year old girl
Standing on the brink of a full life
Never saw it coming
That her mother would trade her
For a few pieces of silver

She is used
Abused
And broken

And she knows nothing else.

A thirteen year old boy
Playing star on the basketball team
Was unaware that when he missed
The winning shot
His dad would make sure he never saw victory again

He is beaten
Ashamed
And blamed

And he knows nothing else.

A twenty year old woman
Walking through her campus
Had never imagined
That others would comment “too skinny”
And it would break her

She is stressed
Depressed
And self-harms

And she knows nothing else.

A thirty year old man
Radiating passion in his work
Could not have predicted
That his business would fail
And he had no means to regain composure

He is lost
Powerless
And homeless

And he knows nothing else.

All the while
I sit here crying
For my children
Deserve
But don’t know
Any better.