You may be a wife, mother, friend, physician, teacher. Those are all great roles you play. But they are not who you are at your core. At your core, you are a child of God, created in his image, called and designed with special gifts, loved intensely and unconditionally "just because." Accepting that understanding is the first step to the freedom of living out God's call on your life.
Here are 60 days' worth of encouraging, thought-provoking content to help you move forward in accepting who God created you to be, loving that calling, and living it out fully.
"Lord, so many times I simply don't like myself. Help me to see myself as you see me. Help me to love myself as you love me. Help me to move forward in who you designed me to be so that I can experience the freedom and influence you have in mind for me. In Jesus' name—and for his kingdom. Amen."
How do you view God? Does he sit in heaven making a list of times you've done things wrong or a list of all he's been able to do in and through you? How might this affect how you view yourself?
Read the following verse over until you have it memorized. Pull it out when you need encouragement that God is safe and loving. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
In her book What Women Tell Me, Anita Lustrea writes: "Think back to your childhood. Did you have a nickname? Was it humorous? Was it hurtful? Some of you are carrying around a name that wounds you every time you hear it or think it." Write about that nickname and who gave it to you. Ask God to help you remove the effects of that nickname, to forgive those who may have used it hurtfully, and that God would redeem it to allow you to be free.
Check out the article "Forced to Face My Issue with Grace" by Amy Jackson. How has God made some of your weaknesses clear in the past? How have you grown as a result of coming face to face with those weaknesses?
Stand in front of a floor-length mirror. Say this aloud: "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it" (Psalm 139:14). Write this verse on a note card and stick it to the mirror as a reminder.
"My heart breaks when I see people who do not love themselves and who are hurting, hurting, hurting because of it. For one thing, all their relationship suffer, because one simply cannot live happily with others if he does not respect and accept himself."—Stanley C. Baldwin, in How to Build Your Christian Character
Write a list of what you feel are your weaknesses. Now take each item you've listed and write about how those might actually be placed in your life for a powerful, influential reason.
"Don't worry about your faults. You are likely to seek what God can give to you rather than God Himself …. If you look at how flawed you are, you will upset yourself and interrupt the presence of God and His perfect work within you."—Francois Fenelon
Read the words to the hymn, "Jesus, I Come," and think about how those words are part of your experience.
Psalm 139 as a heartfelt prayer and thank God for making you as he did and knowing you better than you know yourself.
"'Forgiven' was not a status to which I needed to aspire—it was who I already was. And by choosing not to forgive myself, I was choosing not to believe the One who said, 'I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again' (Isaiah 43:25)."—Suanne Camfield
"Lord, help me to accept those things about myself that I am not proud of. Allow me to see how you might work through those things for your glory. Help me have peace about who I am. Amen."
Reach out to someone who needs to know that God accepts her wholeheartedly. Send her a Scripture, give her a phone call, or jot her a note to let her know of God's powerful love for her personally.
How do you think God sees you? Journal what you believe he might tell you about yourself.
Read John 15:9-17. What does it mean to you that Christ loves you as the Father loves him and that he calls you friend?
Check out this video, "Love Recklessly," and think about whether you are a recipient of God's reckless love for you or how you can show his love to another.
God is wildly, recklessly crazy in love with you. What is holding you back from truly believing and accepting that? How would you live differently if you truly believed and accepted that knowledge?
"It's critical in our growth as Christ followers to talk about authenticity with ourselves because it leads to authenticity with God. Knowing myself led to the healing of my image of God. When I found out I was performance driven, I realized I believed God loved me only when I performed well, something I wouldn't have discovered without self-awareness. Knowing ourselves more deeply often leads to knowing God more deeply."—Anita Lustrea, in What Women Tell Me
What do you love about yourself? What are you proud of? What are you really great at? Spend time journaling the positives about yourself.
"Lord, there are things about my life that I cannot change. Help me to see that you have used and continue to use these things to shape me and grow me. Allow me to live in the present instead of dwelling on the past. Amen."
Which is more uncomfortable for you: having someone compliment you, or having someone point out a weakness in you? Why do you think that is?
Write down the ways you feel inadequate. Now find a verse that shows how God gives the sufficiency and strength to overcome each item.
Check out the article "The Comfort Room" and consider how you might encourage someone by accepting them into your home.
Read Romans 8:15-18. God wants to be our Abba, our daddy. He loves us as chosen children. How does this make you feel?
With a friend, take a quick personality inventory online and talk about how God made each of you unique.
"Oh, Lord, let me not understand your love and acceptance of me only intellectually; help me to feel it deep in my bones, to know it as surely as I know each breath I take. And let that knowledge permeate my relationship with you so that I delight being in your presence. Amen."
Today, find a way to enjoy a gift God has given you—read a book, draw something, organize, cook, or fix something. Do something that makes you you!
Read Isaiah 29:15-16 and ask yourself whether you've been calling God stupid through your thoughts about yourself.
Do something that you are good at and enjoy today. Praise God that he has created you this way.
Make a list of the things you wish you weren't. When you're finished, bring these things to God in prayer. What might he be able to do through those perceived weaknesses for his glory?
"Jesus, thank you for loving me and for taking my place—through death on a cross—to rid me of my overwhelming sin and make me acceptable in your sight. Amen."
"How do you bear suffering? Silently before God. Do not disturb yourself by trying to manufacture an artificial sense of God's presence. Slowly you will learn that all the troubles in life—your job, your health, your inward failings—are really cures to the poison of your old nature. Learn to bear these sufferings in patience and meekness."—Francois Fenelon
How does Jesus see women? How does he love women? If you struggle believing that you are seen and loved by God, what can you do to move toward understanding his love for you?
"When you feel that everyone around you is more capable, more attractive, more lovable, you may think that you esteem them higher but in reality you despise them. It's only when we can receive the love of God for ourselves that we can rejoice at the beauty of God in others."—Sheila Walsh, in Bring Back the Joy
"God, somedays I have such little faith that you really want to use me to do great things in this world. I'm one woman. I'm insignificant in the realm of this world. Yet your Word tells me over and over that you do want to use me. Help me to believe. Then help me to say yes. Amen."
Ask a friend or two to write a list of the things they appreciate about you and why. Then do the same for them.
Read the Book of Esther. Esther was a beautiful woman—but God was calling her to use more than her beauty. He was calling to a more profound, courageous, and bold mission. What mission might God be calling you to in your community?
In her book What Women Tell Me, Anita Lustrea asks, "What is the theme God is writing on your life? … Discovering that theme helps us move into the future with a real sense of purpose. If we are going to uncover the masterpiece that we are, we have to know our story." Take some time to write the major themes of your story and how God has shown himself through those.
Read Ephesians 2:10 and substitute your name:
"[Name] is God's masterpiece. He has created [Name] anew in Christ Jesus, so [Name] can do the good things he planned for [Name] long ago."
Pay close attention today to what you say about yourself to others in conversation. Are you bragging about yourself? Are you down-playing your strengths? Do you avoid talking about yourself altogether?
Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Remember that as you consider any shortcomings in your character or giftings.
Write about the ways in which you sense God is working with you to bring you to wholeness.
Take the stories that you journaled on Day 39 and share pieces with a friend. Later, think about how that experience has built your faith.
"If God was the only object of your affection you would be entirely concerned with Him alone. When you are busy trying to get a sense of the feeling that He loves you, then you are still preoccupied with yourself. The more peaceful and open your spirit, the nearer you will sense your Lord."—Francois Fenelon
Remember this childhood song, "Jesus Loves Me"? Listen to this version and make the words your own. Ask God to help you believe it completely.
"Loving yourself is not self-indulgence, self-centeredness, or conceit. It is caring very much what kind of person you become. It is understanding that God made the person born to your father and mother on the date you celebrate as your birthday …. If you care about and love this person God made, you will make every effort to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, and perseverance to your character."—Stanley C. Baldwin, from How to Build Your Christian Character
"Lord, I confess that I can be hard on myself. It is too easy to point out my flaws, weaknesses, and mess-ups. Allow me to see myself as you see me—a perfect creation—and help me to have an authentic view of my strengths. Amen."
In "Guard Your Calling, Frodo," author John Ortberg talks about the importance of accepting and understanding our calling—even when the risks seem great. Do you agree with his argument? Why or why not?
"Pay attention to who God made you to be. What are you good at? What do you love to do? Before he met Christ, the apostle Paul was an activist and a zealot—an articulate opponent of the church. When he met Christ, he continued to be an activist and a zealot, but he changed for whom he worked. Acts 9:20 says he at once began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. He didn't change who he was by design, but he did change the Lordship in his life."—Nancy Ortberg
Think about one of your strengths and gifts. Use it today to give a blessing to someone else's day.
"All women are kingdom participants. We're eternal beings whom Jesus wants to mold in his image. We need to step up to that without apology, without fear, without compromise, and with great obedience to Christ. It starts with reframing how we see ourselves. You may be in a carpool—you're influencing the other children in your car. You may be in a grocery store—you're influencing the checkout person. You may be in corporate America—you're influencing those around you. You don't need to wait to become a woman of influence; you already are one."—Elisa Morgan
"Lord, help me to focus on my strengths and not be ashamed of them. Help me to appreciate my weaknesses as opportunities to lean into you. Amen."
Liz Curtis Higgs learned a few things about approval and acceptance during a flight. Read her discovery in "Flying Lesson" and think about how you've found yourself in similar circumstances.
"The present moment is your sole treasure for here is where the will of God is found. Do not insult today by looking for a better tomorrow!"—Francois Fenelon
"Love means … that you can get off your guilt trip about doing legitimate things for your own welfare and benefit. It's okay! … It's not only all right but it's positively good for you to make the most of your life. That what love does; it makes the most of your life, not at anyone else's expense but to the glory of God and to the beneift of other people. If you dreams fit that pattern, don't listen when the devil cries, 'Ego trip! Shame! Shame! You are out for your own advantage.'"—Stanley C. Baldwin, in How to Build Your Christian Character
When you care what people think, that's a byproduct of pride and fear. In what ways do you suffer from this? What are steps you can take to break yourself of this pride and fear?
"If I believe that God, in part, writes our stories for the benefit of others, then I have an opportunity to speak up and share out of my brokenness to help others in the body of Christ. I honestly can say I have learned to love my own story, as I've seen how it enables me to intersect with the pain of others."—Anita Lustrea, in What Women Tell Me
"Owning our own story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do."—Brené Brown
"Thank you, God, for making me exactly the way you did. Thank you for loving me enough to give me the unique gifts and personality that you gave. And thank you for believing in me enough to know that you've entrusted me with an important mission to use my gifts and personality to help others and to grow your kingdom. May I always be found faithful. Amen."
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