Becoming Myself: Embracing God's Dream of You

Becoming Myself: Embracing God's Dream of You

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by Stasi Eldredge
     
 

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In Stasi Eldredge’s most vulnerable book yet, she writes frankly about her own struggles with self-worth, weight, and her past as she shows readers that change in their lives is possible.
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Overview

In Stasi Eldredge’s most vulnerable book yet, she writes frankly about her own struggles with self-worth, weight, and her past as she shows readers that change in their lives is possible.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With a writing style that makes the reader feel she is having an intimate chat over coffee with a close friend, Eldredge, who co-authored the bestselling Captivating and Love and War with her husband John, goes solo for this journey to the development of life-changing self-esteem. She offers practical ways to embrace the unique dream God has for each woman’s life regardless of past mistakes or present feelings of inadequacy. Transformation must happen from the inside out, she says, but until women can see themselves through God’s eyes, it won’t happen. She offers humor, liberating insights, biblical lessons, and insightful imagery colored by blunt talk and brutally honest personal examples—including her battles with weight gain—to encourage women to see themselves in a different light. The conversation rambles as chats between friends do, but focus can become foggy. Study notes at the end of chapters or in the rear of the book might have been helpful tools for pulling concepts together and providing ways for digesting more of this meaty food for thought. Agent: Curtis Yates, Yates & Yates. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781434705976
Publisher:
David C Cook
Publication date:
08/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
41,178
File size:
5 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

becoming myself

embracing God's dream of you


By Stasi Eldredge

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2013 Stasi Eldredge
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0535-8



CHAPTER 1

does anyone ever really change?


My husband's parents were coming for a visit—reason enough to paint the basement, let alone clean the refrigerator, as any woman knows. When company comes, we put our best foot forward, especially when the company coming is the in-laws. We color our hair, buy a new top, hide the nail holes in the wall with toothpaste; we make one more pass at teaching the dog to sit and our children to read, sit up straight, and chew with their mouths closed—all within a period of about forty-eight hours.

A few days before their arrival, John's mother mentioned that she wanted to take me to get a massage during their stay.

Yikes.

I had never had a massage before, and the thought of some stranger touching my body was not an appealing one to me. My mother-in-law assured me I would love it. I hoped I would. But I didn't think so. You see, I didn't love my body. Far to the contrary—I was embarrassed by it. I didn't exactly relish the thought of exposing it to the hands of some strange masseuse. How does one lose ten pounds in four days? I googled it. It involves lemon juice and cayenne pepper. I couldn't do it. But I had to go. It was her gift to me. She was excited to give it. I needed to be grateful to receive it. Or at least appear to be.

After checking in at the spa, we were both given soft, luxurious bathrobes and a pair of plastic slippers. We were shown to the changing area with lockers for our clothes, purses, and jewelry. I looked at Mom and asked with dread, "All our clothes?"

"Yes, all your clothes." Seeing the look on my face, she graciously added, "You can keep your underwear on if you'd be more comfortable."

Ummmm ... Yes.

The time came for me to try to discreetly undress and put on the bathrobe while not exposing an inch of skin to any woman who might happen to glance my way. That was difficult, but I was determined. I was also uncomfortable. Then I was mortified. The one-size-fits-all bathrobe didn't fit all. I was too large for it.

Securing my nonemotional, matter-of-fact face, I put my clothes back on and headed out front to speak the dreaded words, "This doesn't fit me. Do you have anything larger?"

They did have a larger robe. They had a man's robe. An extra large man's robe. In a much different color from the women's robes.

Here we were at this spa, sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by lots of other women wearing matching bathrobes, and I was wearing one that might as well have been flashing an orange neon glow-in-the-dark sign that read "obese."

I went into the bathroom and cried. I vowed never to be in that situation again.

But eleven years later, one hundred pounds down and ninety back up, I was. Different gift. Different spa. Different robe. But no larger size available.

Why don't I have victory here? Why haven't I been able to maintain lasting change? What is wrong with me? Have you ever felt that? Maybe not with your weight, but with some area of your life?


why here and not there?

I remember well the laughter of an older friend over my inability to lose weight. It wasn't cruel laughter; it was lighthearted. With delight in her eyes and a deep sense of knowing, she asked me, how hard did I think it would be for God to take care of that struggle for me? With a snap of her fingers she demonstrated how quickly he could remove all compulsion to use food to comfort myself, numb my pain, or simply escape.

Well, then, if it would be so easy for him, why wasn't he doing it? I certainly had asked him, pleaded with him, cried out to him for help here. So it's his fault, really. That's how I felt.

The thing is, I have experienced change—miraculous change. Shortly before becoming a Christian in my early twenties, I had wanted to clean up my act. I'd become acutely aware of my dependence on drugs and alcohol, how I was using them every single day in order to endure my life or at least keep the pain at bay. I decided that I would quit cold turkey. I wouldn't smoke pot, do any drugs, or drink alcohol, and while I was at it, I'd stop eating sugar, too. I didn't make it twenty-four hours. On any front.

Dang.

One night, in desperation and hope, I gave up trying to fix my life and collapsed into the waiting arms of Jesus, responding to his invitation, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28–30). I had finished reading the verses and fallen on the floor.

I was weary beyond words. My life was a shambles. My heart was shattered, and I had done much of the shattering myself. I confessed my deep need to God and asked him to come for me, if he would have me. I gave my life to Jesus, mess that it was, mess that I was, and he did come for me. My little salvation prayer worked.

Two weeks later, I realized that I had not smoked any pot, taken any drugs, or drunk any alcohol since my prayer. Two weeks. This broke all records from the previous ten years. This was a true blue, bona fide miracle. God delivered me from even the desire to use anything. I didn't want to, and I didn't need to. I was awakened to my soul and to the presence of God and to hope. And yeah, baby, there were hard days in that season, but the myriad of stories I have of God's miraculous coming for me in the nick of time are glorious.

Back then, food wasn't a huge issue. I wasn't overweight, and I wasn't inclined to binge. That came later. But when it came, it came with an unyielding power that all my prayer and efforts, repentance, determination, and willpower could not budge.

God delivered me once. Why wouldn't he snap his fingers and do it again?

Many women feel like a failure as a woman. I know that oftentimes I do. A failure as a human being, really. It has affected just about everything I have done and everything I have been kept from doing. But I am not a failure as a human being or as a woman. In some core place deep within, I know this. I fail, yes. But I am not a failure. I disappoint. But I am not a disappointment. Yet when I find myself again in this place—losing the battle for my beauty, my body, my heart—I can sure feel like a failure in every way. And isn't that true for every woman? Don't we all have secret places where we are not living in the victory we long for, places that color how we see ourselves? Doesn't it go on to become a barrier between us and the people in our lives? A wall separating us from the love of God?

Or is it just me?

I didn't think so.

Sometimes we feel hopeless to ever change simply because our personal history is filled with our failed attempts to change. Where was that angel who was supposed to be guarding our tongue and preventing those harsh words from lashing out at our children? What happened to that fruit of the Spirit that was empowering us to be self-controlled and pass by the donut section? God has not given me a spirit of fear, so why am I so consumed with worry over my children, my finances, my future? If the fear of man is a snare, why do I still find I am terrified of exposing my true self and then being rejected? My bondage to food has been revealed as a liar and a thief, and yet in the moment of pain, too often I still turn to it.

God knows.

God knows.

He has not turned his face away. The very fact that we long for the change we do is a sign that we are meant to have it. Our very dissatisfaction with our weaknesses and struggles points to the reality that continuing to live in them is not our destiny.

Read those two sentences again. Let hope rise. Why are you struggling with the things you do? There is a reason. It is found in the life you have lived, the wounds you have received, what you have come to believe about yourself because of them, and not having a clue how to bear your sorrow. It is also because of who you are meant to be.

It is not too late. It is not too hard. You are not too much. God's mercies are new every morning. There is mercy in his eyes even now.


rising to the occasion

I hate spiders. They are creepy. Movies have been made about giant poisonous spiders invading from the Amazon. There's an old movie about a massive spider hiding in train tunnels, and then of course there's that nasty giant spider who chased down a poor helpless hobbit. Spiders. Yuck. They are guaranteed to draw screams.

I used to scream when I came upon one in the bathroom. I was almost twelve years old when my mother refused to come and kill the hairy terrifying thing in the sink for me. "Don't be ridiculous. You do it." I mustered all my bravery into a wad of toilet paper and squished the poor thing. Afterward, I was pretty sure that all of this spider's relatives, all of its aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and mother and father, were going to come after me for revenge. They would probably creep up on me sometime during the night. Yes, it was an irrational fear. Well, maybe. Anyway, I hate spiders.

When I was twenty-three I lived for a year by myself in a one-room cottage behind a friend's home. It was tiny. It was perfect for me. It had one drawback. You guessed it—it was filled with spiders. I would wake each morning to at least ten spread out on the walls, greeting me to the new day. When I returned from work at night, a dozen more would be staggered around the room to welcome me home. I adjusted. I no longer scream when I see a spider (usually), and yes, I can kill them all by myself. If I have to.

My living situation, growing up and out, forced me to take responsibility for my little world. You know the saying: "Adapt or die." Or maybe it was, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." Either way, I needed to support myself. Pay rent. Buy car insurance. Plan a wedding. Kill or ignore invading spiders. I needed to rise to the occasion of my life. It took practice. Killing that first spider as a young woman on the verge of adolescence was a milestone for me, and over time I became a woman who possesses the capacity not to be paralyzed in the presence of an eight-legged creature. I changed. And that's a good thing.

Maybe you never were afraid of spiders. Maybe you are like my friend Sam, who captures any and all invading insects—yes, even spiders—gently transporting them to her backyard and releasing them to buggy freedom. But you do have those places in your life where you want to grow up. You want to be free.

I believe you can.

I believe God is in the business of setting us free, making each of us into the woman he always wanted us to be. The woman we always wanted to be. Sometimes he does it with the flip of a switch. But not most of the time (as you well know). Most of the time God invites us into a process of change—a process where by his grace we can rise to the occasion of our lives. But before we talk about that process, there are a few things we need to get straight.


shame and discipline won't cut it

First, shame is not an agent of change.

Like a shot of caffeine in the morning, self-loathing may propel us onto the road of change, but we will find that hatred of self only leads us onto a never-ending roundabout. Like being terrified by a number on the scale in the morning and vowing never to overeat again, a shot of shame may get us through to lunch but never through to our freedom. Self-hatred, shame, and fear—though rampant in so many of our hidden worlds—are simply never going to be capable of creating or sustaining the growth we long for. Yet most women try to use shame as their inner motivator. I know I have.

Self-discipline isn't going to cut it either.

Discipline, particularly spiritual discipline, is a holy and good thing, one that increases over a lifetime of practice. But when we lean on it alone to bring about the change we long for, we find that the fruit is not a grace-filled woman. We get angry; we get discouraged. If we do make it through a few battles, we can easily become the kind of woman who pressures others to do the same, a hard and get-your-act-together kind of woman. With self-discipline, the focus remains "self," so we are already off to a bad start. Trying, striving, working harder may get us through the week, but it won't take us through the decades. Yet most Christian women believe that this is the way to handle our external world.

I got a kick out of an email I received last week:

Some women at our church decided to do a study on the Proverbs 31 woman. I joined because I want to get to know these ladies, but really, I loathe the Proverbs 31 woman. She makes me feel like *&#@. But anyway, last week the study told us to buy a new mattress (so we sleep better, so we can serve more) and clean out our pantry, and yesterday it said I should only eat vegetables and water for the next 10 days (like Daniel), and today I'm supposed to stop eating sugar (and serving it to my family). I say to my husband, "So, we need a new mattress and we are going vegetarian and I'm cutting out all sugar from your diet and mine." He remarks: "No wonder you hate her!"


Now, some of those changes may be good things. Maybe God is calling her or us to do some of those things. But true transformation cannot be forced from the outside. It's an inside-out process. Who of us has not received or created a list of ways to live, eat, exercise, respond, seek God, grow, and change—and how long did it last, if it worked at all? Those lists don't work very long for anyone, and so we fall back into self-contempt. The problem does not lie with our lack of discipline. The problem is in the approach. The problem lies with the lists.

By the way, we humans are great ones for making lists. Codes of behavior. Rules of etiquette. Do not reapply your lipstick in public. Cover your mouth when you yawn. Wedding gifts can be sent up to a year after the event, but for heaven's sake, kindly let them know if you are attending or not. Keep your napkin on your lap. Don't talk while you are eating. Chew with your mouth closed. Come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Use your turn signals. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Stand up straight. Register to vote.

Aren't you tired just reading this?

God gave Israel a fabulous list. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, servant, ox, donkey, or new car. Was it really too much to ask? Noble as the list was, the people found they couldn't keep it for a day. Enter Jesus. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that lusting after a woman (or man) in your heart was the same thing as committing adultery. He taught that hating a person in your heart was the same as murdering that person. Ummmm, we are all in trouble here.

A list of laws, rules, tips, techniques, and strategies does not a transformed heart make. No wonder 95 percent of all people who lose weight are unable to keep it off. Diet programs work. If you work the program. But they work from the outside in, and without substantive internal change, it's impossible to hold the ground of a lower BMI. Yes, we all have areas in our lives we want and need to change, but the only way that is going to happen is when we have a change of heart.

Scrooge had a change of heart, so he gave Bob Cratchit a raise. Cinderella had a change of heart, so she went to the ball. Raging Saul the Pharisee had a change of heart, so he became missionary number one for Jesus. I had a change of heart when I surrendered my life and gave it over to Jesus. When my heart came home to its true Home, a lot of change instantly happened.

When we have a change of heart on the inside, it manifests itself on the outside. But you and I both know by now that most of our healing and changing doesn't happen at the moment of our conversion. We walk it out. God invites us into a process. Our journey to get there takes place in the day in and day out of the dusty and gritty here and now. And it is to the dusty, gritty here and now that Jesus comes.

So shame isn't gonna do it, and discipline isn't gonna do it. God invites us to join him in the process whereby he heals our inner world so he can transform our outer world.

One more point before we explore how.

God is not going to love me any more or any differently when and if I finally lose this weight and become free from the stranglehold of food. Jesus's love for me, my Father's love for me, never changes. Yeah, okay, fellowship may be strained at times, but his heart toward me does not change. He is passionately in love with me. Even better, I think he likes me. And by the way, he's got a pretty huge thing for you, too. Yes, you. So what does being loved like that mean? Does that even matter? Does it make any difference in my day-to-day life? You bet it does.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from becoming myself by Stasi Eldredge. Copyright © 2013 Stasi Eldredge. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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