Young women today are constantly told they are not enough for this world—not pretty enough, not smart enough, not exciting enough, and just plain not good enough.
Grace Valentine has felt the pressure of trying to survive in a toxic culture, let alone thrive. But she’s had enough. In her new book Am I Enough?, Grace uses her story to confront the lies the world tells us every day—lies such as:
- You are beautiful because a guy told you so,
- Love must be earned,
- You should forget your past,
- You will never be enough, and more.
Am I Enough? is a line in the sand. It’s a declaration that we will never be enough for this world, because we were created by Someone better for something better. Discover how to push past the lies, and find confidence in who you were made to be.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.66(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Who Cares What Guys Think?
I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one day in March. And for a twenty-something in March, Facebook is a parade of bikinis, girls with six-packs, and girls with six-packs next to guys with six-packs.
I found myself stalking a friend from my freshman year of college. Every spring break for the past four years, she had posted bikini pictures. I remembered that because I so desperately wanted her body. Without thinking, I typed out a message to her that day. Yes, shamefully, I admit that I messaged a thigh-gap, six-pack, bikini-confident gal showing off on Facebook — all so that I could ask how she became so skinny in the hopes of achieving the same myself.
I continued to stare at her perfect tummy and thigh gap. I needed her body.
Teach me your ways! I thought as I considered what a side-by-side photo of her and me would look like. Looking at her body, it was easy to see why so many guys like her.
I stared down to my thighs that have no gap. And my stomach that could double as a soft, squishy pillow. I thought to myself: It's no wonder I'm hopelessly single. But, on the bright side, without a gap, my thighs catch the French fries that miss my mouth and fall to my lap.
I wish I could say that was the only time I'd messaged a stranger to ask how she had obtained such a glorious body. (I told you that I'd be honest with you.)
Pathetic? Yes. Normal? Most likely. Good for me? No.
We women covet the idea of being hot. We crave a great body, a beautiful face, and the ability to attract guys who deem us pretty enough by their standards. We want to feel physically attractive to and wanted by guys.
But we were meant for so much more than that. We were created for a far greater purpose than looking hot.
Out the Window
My original idea for this chapter was to ask Christian men what makes a woman beautiful, thinking it would be beneficial to hear godly men say, "Looks fade — it's all about a woman's heart and character."
This is gonna be gold! I thought when I looked over the rough outline I'd written. Women will love this!
I sat on my couch wearing my comfy extra-large T-shirt and loose Nike shorts, ready to send a Facebook message to the group of men I'd picked out. They were cute Christian guys who worked at summer camps and wore Chacos, and I just knew they would back me up by saying that true beauty comes from the inside.
But before I hit send, I felt God whispering to my heart, "Grace, have you not learned anything?"
What did that mean? I knew beauty comes from within. I knew our worth as women is not measured by what guys say about us or how many likes we receive on Instagram. I knew the right answer and planned on writing this truth — but also while sourcing cute, Chacos-wearing Christian guys to help get the point across and convince us women even further.
That voice I sensed in my heart asked me another question: "How would they know?' I assumed these guys would be able to give answers that would help the young ladies reading this book feel better about themselves.
Isn't that a sweet thought? But because I was conflicted, I did what I do quite well — I put off solving the problem. Instead, I headed over to the campus library to print a paper for my journalism class. There, I overheard two men with reputations around campus as good, Christian guys talking about two girls whom I'll call "Ashley" and "Brittany."
Good Christian Guy 1: "Did you see what Ashley was wearing last night? Her butt is honestly insane."
Good Christian Guy 2: "Yeah dude. Mind blown!"
Good Christian Guy 1: "I think she's the only hot one in that group. She's way hotter than Brittany."
Good Christian Guy 2: "Yup."
I was the one whose mind was blown. This isn't at all the view point I expected from good, Christian guys.
There went my genius plan for this chapter. Those men had failed me because they, like so many of us women, had failed to remember that a woman's worth does not lie in her looks.
When we base our worth on what the world says, it will fail us every time.
The truth is, no woman will ever be pretty enough for every man. There will always be some guy out there who finds you unattractive.
If you put your worth in what a guy thinks of you, even if he is a Christian, I promise he will fail you. We need to stop defining our beauty by what guys think is attractive.
No More Fussing
In seventh grade, the boy sitting in the desk beside mine in English class said my arms were hairier than his. He wasn't being cruel or mean; he was just stating a fact. But when I heard him, I froze.
My brain interpreted his statement as, "Grace 'Hairy-Armed' Valentine is unworthy of being liked in seventh grade unless she shaved her arms." That night, I shaved off every hair on my arms in an attempt to alter what I perceived as a flaw in my appearance.
Because of that one misplaced decision in seventh grade, I must shave my arm hair to this day or have it grow out as prickly as a cactus.
Twelve-year-old Grace allowed what I now know was a harmless comment by one guy to negatively affect my self-worth.
As I grew older, I tried to please guys through my wardrobe. I believed they would think I was hotter if I dressed more attractively. Even today, I struggle with this when I walk into my closet and feel tempted to wear a tight shirt, a short dress, or a revealing top that will catch more attention.
I'd bet some of you have also awakened in the morning and thought about dressing to please guys. But that look sends a message you probably don't intend to send.
I have a friend who was told by a guy that he would leave her if she didn't have sex with him. So she did. He still left. My friend did what she thought she had to do in order for some guy to think she was beautiful, but it still wasn't enough to keep him. And look what she gave up for nothing.
We want that guy to comment "beautiful" on our selfies. We want the hottie at the gym to say "You look good today" with his adorable smirk. Who knows? If it's a really good day, he'll wink as he says it or even offer assistance with the equipment. We want to be told that we're adorable. We want guys who don't even know our hearts to tell us that we're pretty.
But it's never enough.
This guy likes your red lipstick, that one doesn't. This guy likes you in T-shirts, that one doesn't. This guy admires that you want to wait until you're married to have sex, that one doesn't.
You might even find one guy who thinks your arms are too hairy and another who thinks it's weird that you shave them.
It's just not possible to please every guy with our looks.
Flattery isn't all that satisfying anyway. Your grandma can tell you that you're the most beautiful person in the world. Your mom can post pictures of you on Facebook and your entire hometown remarks, "Wow! She's grown up and beautiful!" But then what? When is the next compliment coming? And what happens if it doesn't?
The problem is greater than needing a compliment or two.
We need to stop fussing.
Am I Enough?
One my favorite passages of Scripture is Matthew 6:25–29. The Message translation says it this way:
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion — do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
If you are like me and wonder what guys consider attractive and how to look better to please them — stop wondering. If you count pimples in the mirror — stop counting. If you think wearing a crop top or a sundress is the way to make guys think you are attractive — give up that idea.
God made you the way you are for a reason. Fussing and complaining cannot change your physical beauty.
I'm not suggesting you throw away your favorite shade of lipstick and never go to the gym again. Dress nice. Stay healthy. But don't do those things to please the world. Of course, that's not easy advice to follow, because it goes against our natural desires to please every man.
But we can't do that. And you know what? Your life serves a bigger purpose than to be eye-candy for men. When you find yourself fussing over how guys view you, pray. Take a deep breath and close Facebook. Focus on your Creator. Focus on living for the One who gave you life. Seek His eyes, and pray for the ability to see yourself the way He sees you.
You're not going to be pretty enough for the world. It's important for engaging the rest of this book to establish the fact that the world does not define us. God does. He created us, and we need to allow Him — not the temporary desires of this world — to tell us who we are.
And all God's women with or without a thigh gap said, "Amen!"
Next time you feel like fussing, step away from the mirror and go outside. Look at the wildflowers, the kittens, and the sunshine. Marvel at the mountains and the seas. God created them all. Yet we are His favorite creation. Celebrate that! Give Him praise through your life. Your most beautiful quality is your ability to live life purposefully.
Let's commit to spending more time clothing ourselves in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Let's dress ourselves with love, style ourselves with gentleness, wear self-control as though it is our favorite cross-body purse. May we choose joy daily, and throw kindness around like confetti. Let us be patient with one another and live life-bearing goodness.
Let's rock the fruits of the Spirit better than we rocked Limited Too clothes in middle school. And please, pretty please, let's wear them longer than we wore Crocs!
When was the last time you fussed about the way you look? What, specifically, were you fussing about?
Why do you think your looks are important?
How you can remind yourself to stop fussing?
Who determines your worth?
Beautiful in God's Sight
What does it mean to be beautiful?
I think we all know that women are supposed to believe that being beautiful isn't all about their physical appearance. "Be beautiful from the inside out," we're told. Sounds great! Let's do it! But what does it mean to be beautiful from the inside out? That doesn't really answer our original question. So let's define what a beautiful woman is: one who knows she is beautiful because of her Creator.
A beautiful woman lives a life with the fruit of the Spirit evident. Purpose is her best accessory. She wakes up each morning eager to serve, love, and be the person God created her to be.
I used to struggle with the desire to be "hot." I wanted guys to look at me and think, Dang, she's beautiful. Or even better, to say it out loud. I shared my thoughts with Jen, an older mentor, and told her the frustration I felt when I looked in the mirror.
You know what Jen did not do?
She did not correct me and say: "Grace, you are cute! Look at yourself!" She knew fake flattery would not satisfy my desire for physical approval.
She also did not respond with the typical girl-to-girl: "You're not ugly. In fact, just the other day, I heard so-and-so talking about how cute you are."
You know what Jen did?
Months later, Jen and I traveled together to Kenya on a mission trip. One day in the city of Kiu, I was sitting with children all around me — tickling my sides, sitting on my lap, listening to me. I was sweaty. My clothes were modest. My hair was greasy and pulled in multiple directions.
I laughed as a little girl named Joy kept jumping into my lap. I pretended not to cry when the kids just about ripped off my scalp as they dug into my head to braid my hair. I was joyful, content, and loving life. In that moment, I did not care what any guy thought of me or what size bra I was wearing. All I cared about was the beautiful children surrounding me, and I was smiling because they were smiling.
Jen hadn't said anything when I'd shared my struggle with wanting to be hot, but I knew she'd heard me. And later that night she found the perfect time to reply: "I know you struggle with your beauty and worth, Grace. But you have never looked more beautiful than that moment when kids were surrounding you and you were simply loving them. That is beauty, and your ability to serve the Lord is your greatest purpose."
I will never forget those words.
Even now as I think about what Jen told me, I wonder what life would be like if we young women spent as much time encouraging one another as we do looking in the mirror. What if we spent as much time praying as we do covering our face with makeup? Yeah, I get that's the cheesy, classic Christian girl thing to say. But it's true. Notice I didn't say we should stop applying makeup. I am saying we shouldn't idolize the reflection in the mirror.
For Such a Time as This
Esther is one of my favorite Bible characters. She was a woman who found favor in the eyes of many — because she was beautiful — and she was chosen by King Ahasuerus to become his queen.
Meanwhile, Haman, one of the king's top officials, ordered a Jew named Mordecai to bow to him. Mordecai refused. Mordecai just happened to be Esther's cousin who had practically raised her. Haman was so mad at Mordecai that he convinced King Ahasuerus to kill every Jew within his empire. (Esther had not told the king that she was Jewish.)
Crazy story, right? It gets better.
Mordecai learned of the plot and sent a message to Esther, asking her to intercede with the king on the Jews' behalf. Except it wasn't so easy. By law, any man or woman who went to the king inside the inner court without being invited would be put to death.
Esther was understandably reluctant and sent word back to Mordecai of the situation. Here's part of Mordecai's response: "For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, ESV).
Esther went to the king. And she survived. Through a series of God-ordained events, the king had Haman hanged on the very gallows he'd had built for Mordecai, he appointed Mordecai prime minister, and he issued a decree allowing the Jews to defend their lives whenever necessary.
Esther risked her life, and the Jews of Ahasuerus's kingdom were saved. She could have remained quiet, but she didn't. Why? Because Esther had a purpose.
There is one line in that last verse that I especially love: "for such a time as this."
Esther possessed beauty and royalty. But for such a time as this, there was something more important than keeping a hold on her crown and status.
Now, for you my friend, I believe that if God created you, He created you for big things. The same God that worked through Esther wants to use you for His purpose.
Here is what I think:
For such a time as this ... God created you to be something more beautiful than a pretty woman sitting on her throne — whatever you'd like your throne to be.
For such a time as this ... God created you to have something more important than a good-looking butt.
For such a time as this ... God created you for more than a pretty face in a selfie.
For such a time as this ... God created you for bigger purposes than just having guys think you're attractive.
Look in the Mirror
If you struggle with insecurity like I do, can I please ask you to go to your mirror? Yes, right now. Take the book with you.
Look into that mirror, and before you make any judgment about what you see looking back at you, boldly declare: "This woman is going to change the world. This woman is here right now for such a time as this."
Excerpted from "Am I Enough?"
Copyright © 2018 Grace Valentine.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Enough! xi
Lie 1 You are beautiful because a guy told you so
Chapter 1 Who Cares What Guys Think? 3
Chapter 2 Beautiful in God's Sight 11
Lie 2 Love must be earned
Chapter 3 Love We Cannot Earn 19
Chapter 4 The Sex Chapter 27
Chapter 5 Finding a Guy Who Doesn't Wait Because of You 39
Chapter 6 The Best Love Story Ever 43
Lie 3 Forget your past
Chapter 7 When Your Smile Is Broken 51
Chapter 8 Through Jesus' Eyes 57
Lie 4 When you don't look presentable hide
Chapter 9 Get Out from Under That Cap 69
Chapter 10 15 Things I'd Rather Be Than Hot 75
Chapter 11 Remember the Most Important Part 83
Lie 5 Numbers are the judge of beauty
Chapter 12 The Weight of the World 89
Chapter 13 Meeting Jessica 95
Chapter 14 The Ultimate Diet 101
Lie 6 God just wants to be your friend
Chapter 15 Stop Friend-Zoning God 107
Chapter 16 Mean What You Say 111
Chapter 17 Carry the Cross 119
Chapter 18 Be Holy 123
Lie 7 Strong Women cry only in the bathroom
Chapter 19 The Proper Foundation 129
Chapter 20 What to Do with a Broken Heart 135
Chapter 21 Uncommon Strength 141
Lie 8 Nicholas Sparks Writes the best love stories
Chapter 22 Crushing It! 149
Chapter 23 Remembering My First Love 159
Lie 9 Prayer is only for when you need help
Chapter 24 Out of the Desert 169
Chapter 25 Mean What You Pray 179
Chapter 26 Time Best Spent 185
Lie 10 You will never be enough
Chapter 27 Strong Enough 193
Chapter 28 God's Love Letter 199
Chapter 29 At a Moment's Notice 205
Chapter 30 The "I Am" Life 209
Conclusion: Who Will You Dance With? 215
About the Author 222