[Once a week, I am going to be sharing with you a brave story sent in from a reader. You can comment, respond, encourage. Want to submit your own story or a story of a brave friend of yours? Head to thatisbrave.com!]
This week’s #thatisbrave story comes from Elizabeth. Sharing your story is always brave, friends. Her words and name are used with her permission.
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I was in a small group a few years ago, we were given the opportunity to share our life stories. I was one of the first ones to share, there was a lot of shock as to what I have been through and how I have overcomes the obstacles.
A couple of weeks later I was sitting in church, watching a baptism video, and my pastor comes and sits next to me. He looks at me and asks, will you share your story in church today? My heart instantly started beating fast, my anxiety kicked in and I wanted to run. But I looked at him and said, YES! As he walked away, I thought what did I just say?!? Sitting through his sermon, I was nervous, scared, and worried. But I prayed for God’s peace and when he asked me to come up, I did and shared what has happened in my life.
After I finished, church was over and I was shocked at how many people came up to me and shared how they related to me. I look back and see how brave I was to just share my heart.
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If you haven’t seen, new nude magazine cover photos were released of Kim Kardashian this week. (It’s not the first time, but it surely seems to be the most viral release.) It has been hard, nearly impossible, to avoid seeing her full backside displayed, and as of yesterday, her full frontside as well. And while I hope you can get around the internet without passing by these, most won’t be able to. If you can avoid seeing it, do. If you can protect your children from seeing the photos, do.
If you can’t, like I couldn’t, I have a few things to remind you- as a grown woman- and to remind you as you mentor the next generation of women. Please say these things to yourself and to the younger women in your life.
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1. We are worth more than this. While the human body is beautiful, this particular display does not add to or celebrate the value and strength of her as a woman. These photographs are not a great reflection of the worth of a woman.
2. Every body is different. We are each uniquely made, uniquely shaped, and uniquely celebrated by God. Therefore…
3. There is not one body that is THE female standard. She is not what we are all supposed to look like. This woman is not our standard. The world will try to convince you, with just a few simple photographs, that we should all look like that. We shouldn’t. I should look like the best version of me, you should look like the best version of you, and we should not feel pressure to conform our bodies into any one shape.
4. You are beautiful the way God made you. I needed that reminder after I saw the pictures, maybe you do too.
5. What the internet says about your body does NOT determine your worth. Positive or negative. What Kim is displaying for every teen girl is, “look! show it all and everyone will LOVE you!” No. No they won’t. They will not respect you, they will not honor you, they will not love you. They will look at you, and they will use you, but it will be short lived and way less awesome than you are imagining.
Also, while we’re here. Likes on your instagram post don’t decide if you’re awesome or not. RTs of your tweets aren’t the what make you valuable. The comments on your posts don’t judge your worth. To quote my friend Cassie, “your online presence is not who you are. It is not your heart. It isn’t your soul. And it is certainly not your value.”
6. Cultivate who you are on the inside. Please. It matters far more the woman you are versus the way you look. Read good books. Deepen your friendships. Learn how to cook. Pray. Jog if you like it. Dance if you want to. Finish school. Become the woman you want to be on the inside, and your inner beauty will radiate out in major ways.
7. Don’t be naked on the internet. Ever.
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I’ll leave it at that. Speak to the heart of the young women in your life- remind them of their worth. Speak to your own heart if necessary, and say the kind things. God made you on purpose. This isn’t our standard. This isn’t beauty. These photos need to be a good internal check for all of us to remember what we value, what we honor, and who we are letting determine our truth.
(And yes. You need to talk with young men about these photographs as well. That blog post is coming…)
The Bloom Book Club officially ends today.
Over the last month and a half or so, hundreds of women across the internet have been reading Let’s All Be Brave together, discussing it on Facebook and on the Bloom Book Club page, and watching videos where I sat on my red couch and talked about my book with two friends.
Today, many of those women are going to write about their experience with Bloom and Let’s All Be Brave, so I thought I’d throw a post in the link-up as well. And if I can do this without crying, it shall be my greatest victory this week.
(And while I am directing this at the Bloom Book Club members, it’s honestly how I feel about every one of you who has taken time to read Let’s All Be Brave. So, it’s for you, too.)
Dear Bloom Book Club friends,
The day I turned in Let’s All Be Brave to my editor was one of the most depressing days of my life. I had read the manuscript over and over again, I knew I had worked very very hard on it, but it wasn’t great. Seriously. It wasn’t. And it broke my heart. I knew what God has placed in me to share, I knew what I dreamed that He could do with it, but I had just emailed off a 200+ page document that was mediocre writing AND emotionally expensive.
(This is why we have editors, y’all. Because my editor and I worked and worked and worked until this book was better than mediocre.)
I just prayed that God would use it, somehow, this book I had long dreamed of.
Even once the book was finished and ready to be printed, I wasn’t sure what you would think. Memoir writing from a 34 year old single gal can be a bit of an eye-roll and can flop and I was scared. So scared. Especially the day before it released.
And then it released, and most of you liked it. And you emailed me. And you told me what God had done in your heart when reading the book and every email is salve on my heart. For real.
And then Bloom Book Club.
And then I get to meet with hundreds of women online for the last few months and hear as they discuss the things they are wrestling with and feeling challenged by and I just put my hand over my heart and I tell God that I can’t believe He lets me be a part of your story and I thank Him that He took my mediocre writing and spun it around into a special thing that matters to some people on this planet.
Friend, thank you for being a part of the Bloom Book Club. Thank you for being excited when they picked Let’s All Be Brave and thank you for reading along. Thank you for your comments and your emails, for the things you like about the book AND the things that rubbed you the wrong way, and for turning the next page until we said goodbye at the end.
I guess I just want you to know that on the other side of this screen, on the other side of the book club, on the other side of the words on a page, sits an author who is so deeply grateful for this opportunity, for the friendships forged in this season, and for every.single.email, every.single.kind.word, every.single.page.read.
Thank you so much, sweet reader friends. You have healed me.
I am braver because of you.
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(And to the Bloom Book Club staff- Jess and Ang, Robin, Saul, Crystal, Sally, and any others that had a hand in this- THANK YOU for trusting me with your people and believing in the words I write. The time and effort and moola you put in to see this book club through to the end is such a gift to me and I love you each to pieces.)
To keep you updated: minimal tears, just misty, really. So today’s blog post wasn’t near as weepy as I expected.