Exchange the lies of hurtful labels and wrong thinking for the truth of who God created you to be!
From an early age Alex Seeley was told she was an accident, but she also carried the weight of feeling stupid. Labels like these, sometimes spoken over us by well-meaning people, can cause us to believe lies about ourselves that make us question why we were born and what our purpose on earth could be. Yet, according to Psalm 139, God designed us in His image with a unique DNA and amazing characteristics! We are loved and created for a purpose that only we can fulfill.
In Tailor Made, Alex helps us recognize our wrong thinking often brought on by generational patterns, insecurities, circumstances, lack of forgiveness, and an inaccurate view of God our Father, and offers to replace them with a new view of who God says we are our personal destiny. It’s time to find your own sense of belonging and the path to becoming the original, authentic version of you that God intended!
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Alex Seeley was born and raised in Australia and spent seventeen years pastoring there. It is also where she met and married her husband, Henry. After relocating to Nashville in 2012, they founded The Belonging Co., a church where they minister together to thousands of people each week. She is a passionate teacher of the Word with the unique ability to reveal how the Word of God is applicable to our everyday lives.
Read an Excerpt
DESIGN OR ACCIDENT?
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
— C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
I'm an accident.
At least, that's the story I was told when I was growing up. One evening, when I was about five years old, I was sitting at the table enjoying dinner with my family, and my mum was sharing the stories about our family and how each of us came to be on this earth. It was always exciting hearing my mum tell a story. She has an amazing ability to make a story come to life. So much so that when I didn't want to eat my dinner, rather than argue with me she would begin to tell a story as she picked up the spoon to feed me. Her storytelling was so captivating that by the time she finished talking, I had eaten all my dinner without realizing it.
Each story my mum shared about my siblings that night was wonderful and filled with details of love and expectancy. I sat with eager anticipation, waiting for my story to be shared. After all, I was the baby of the family, and the best is saved for last. I remember my mum laughing as these words came out of her mouth: "Well, you were the accident that wasn't meant to happen!" The boys laughed and jeered along with her. My brother David added his own silly comment about how maybe I was actually adopted, joking that I didn't appear to have any resemblance to my parents. He also told me on many occasions, to annoy me and get a reaction, that he was the favorite and that my parents didn't love me as much as they loved him.
I laughed along with them because I wanted to feel included in this seemingly funny joke, but in reality I felt as if a knife had stabbed my heart. I felt rejected and unwanted. That day, I slowly began to deteriorate on the inside.
AN ITALIAN DRAMA
I was born on a Friday night in March — eight pounds, eight ounces of Italian goodness. Later, my mother told me that the doctor who delivered me made a point of saying, "This one is special," as she handed me to my mum. This was God's truth about me, but it took many years before I could see and believe it for myself.
There was no denying that I was the fourth child born into a family that had planned to have only two. My mum was quite vocal in reminding people — especially my father — about the original plan. But it was 1970, and they were raised Catholic. And Italian. So you can imagine how that went.
After the births of my sister and brother, my mum discovered she was pregnant again. After a near-death experience, she gave birth to my ten-pound brother David — and two children became three. Having three children was not ideal for my mother, but she decided to make the best of it.
Fast-forward a few years after David's birth. My sister had been praying and believing for a baby sister, and my mum went to the doctor to diagnose a mystery illness, which turned out to be ... me. Surprise! The day she got the phone call with the results of her blood test, she passed out from shock. Like many 1970s housewives, she blamed my dad — because obviously, it was solely his fault. She refused to speak to him for three months. Don't you love Italian drama? When she finally started talking to him again, I'm sure it involved a lot of theatrical hand-waving and passionate arguing.
My mother once said to me something I will never forget. In the early months of finding out about me, she prayed that God would take me from her. One night when she was overwhelmed and crying out to God, she sensed the voice of the Lord clearly say, This child you are carrying is Mine! She didn't understand what that meant at the time, so she assumed that she was either going to die giving birth or that the child growing in her womb would die. Both scenarios overwhelmed her.
It wasn't that my mum hated kids. She didn't. It wasn't that she was being irrational. She wasn't. She had planned for two children, and in her mind, she could handle two children. But if her near-death experience giving birth to her third child wasn't terrifying enough, imagine the fear she must have felt thinking about giving birth to a fourth child. She told us that she stayed up many nights wondering if this fourth child would be her death. How would her husband care for four children on his own if she died? Or if she did survive this birth, how would she be able to take care of four children?
As the story unfolded that night around the dinner table, I was bewildered, to say the least. This was not the happy story I had expected. Instead, all I heard was that I was unplanned — an accident that made my mother's life miserable. I wanted to run to my room and cry into my pillow. I didn't know where to turn for comfort, because these words were coming from the very person who was supposed to be my comforter and nurturer. My mother had no idea, but that night a seed of rejection was planted into my soul — one I would struggle with for much of my life.
A FLAWED SELF-PERCEPTION
We all want to feel as though we belong in our families, so hearing that you are an accident is a tough pill to swallow. I didn't understand that it was an exaggerated statement at the time; as a young child, I took every word literally. Even though my parents loved me when I came into this world, the cruel and harsh truth was that they never wanted a fourth child.
I carried those words deep within my soul for a very long time. My self-perception was that I had no place in my family. Because I had been labeled an "accident," I chose to believe that I was anything but special.
We all listen to the voices that are spoken over us: "You are nothing," "You are stupid," "You are fat," or (in my case) "You are an accident." The popular children's saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me" is a complete lie. Words cut through the heart and wound a person's spirit. The Bible says, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21). We must choose our words wisely because they hold great power to hurt or to heal. Proverbs 12:18 reminds us, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
What I didn't know at the time was that my mum was carrying her own pain, resulting from struggles with her own mother. She had endured much disappointment over her lifetime, so she was a fractured person when she began to parent. As a result, she lived out the truth of the adage: "Hurt people hurt people."
My mum's angry outbursts and old-school discipline reinforced the message that I was a nuisance. Every negative word, outburst of anger, and harsh spanking became another brick that built on the foundation of "you are an accident." But my view of self went beyond how I thought my family felt about me. The mortar that held those bricks together consisted of an even deeper misunderstanding of God's love and plan for my life, combined with Satan's lies about my true identity. I had been taught in Sunday school that Jesus loved me, but what about the Father? Was it just His duty to love me because Jesus did? I thought surely God was not concerned with the details of my life or the reason I was placed on earth. I figured He was far too busy taking care of everyone else in the world to care about me, because other people deserved His attention more than I did. I felt unworthy in His presence. I viewed God as far away, sitting on a throne at a distance, waiting to punish people who were bad — people like me.
I remember a time when my mum lost her temper and lashed out at me. After she had finished yelling at me, she left the room without resolving the issue. I cried until I had a headache. I wondered what I had done to deserve such harsh punishment. I prayed to God and asked Him: "Why did You place me in this family? If You are a loving God, then why can't You tell my mum to stop?" After each outburst of anger, my mum would give me the silent treatment for hours, sometimes days, which reinforced the rejection I felt about being an unwanted mistake. Her anger and coldness caused me to feel deep shame, which further made me feel ugly and unlovable.
Because I felt ugly and unlovable, that self-perception became the filter through which I lived my life. I wanted to become invisible, because I was afraid that anything I did or said would trigger my mother's anger and lead to severe consequences. I felt as if I had to tiptoe through my home — as if there were land mines underground that would explode if I stepped on them. When I was with my friends or extended family, I went with the flow because I hated conflict and feared anyone getting angry with me. I would agree with people, even if I didn't truly agree with or like them. If they said they didn't like something, I would say, "Me too," even if it wasn't true.
My two cousins loved music. Their favorite bands were U2 and Adam and the Ants. (I grew up in the 1980s.) Once they asked me who my favorite band was, and I was too afraid to say anything, worried that if I mentioned a band they didn't like, they would mock me. So to avoid conflict, I simply said, "I don't have a favorite band." They couldn't believe it.
"How can you not have a favorite band?"
I said to them, "Well, you pick one for me." They were delighted with this suggestion! They thought for a few minutes, hashed out some ideas, and concluded that I should love Spandau Ballet — a popular English band at the time. Spandau Ballet? I thought. I don't want them to be my favorite band. The truth was, I wanted U2 to be my favorite because I loved Larry Mullen Jr., the drummer. But I didn't want to rock the boat because one of my cousins had already claimed U2 as her own. So I lied and said, "That's a great idea!" just to keep the peace. I know this might sound silly to you — as it does to me now — but that is how deeply affected I was. To please my cousins, I pretended for years that Spandau Ballet was my favorite band.
As I grew up, I became a first-class people-pleaser because I was starved for verbal affirmation. I thought trying to be accepted and refusing to disagree with anyone would distract from the fact that I was an accident. My heart was crying out for someone to validate me and tell me I was worthy of love, acceptance, and purpose simply because I was Alex.
Ironically, when anyone did compliment me, I didn't receive it as truth. Instead, their words ricocheted off the brick wall I had built around my heart. After feeling unworthy for so many years, I had put up strong defenses in an attempt to protect my heart from any future hurt. I let others lead me and tell me what to think because I believed my opinion didn't matter. I couldn't make decisions because I feared making the wrong ones and being judged for it. I told lies to convince people my life was better than it really was. Simply put, I was an internal mess who worked hard day after day to keep up the false exterior that I was okay. My façade said I was like every other girl.
ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL
From the moment we enter this world, we are surrounded by labels — words that discourage and disable us, words that degrade and devalue us, words that destroy our purpose in life. Some voices offer encouragement, but there are plenty more that discourage us. And we remember the negative words spoken over us so much more than the positive words given to us. Perhaps you had to bear a nickname like "the black sheep" or "nerd." Perhaps your mother said, "You're just like your father," whenever you were a nuisance to her. Maybe you were given another kind of label that put you in a box.
From the time Adam was created, there has been a target on humanity — Satan's well-executed plan to steal, kill, and destroy the people of God (John 10:10). According to Satan's one-size-fits-all plan, everyone is a target. If you are breathing, you are a target. The Enemy has one plan for everyone on earth, and it is this: to rob you of your purpose and to rip away your God-given destiny. He hates you in a bitter, jealous, raging, malicious way. He hates who you are, what you have, what you are entitled to, and who you have the potential to become. He hates that you are loved by God, and with a relentless jealousy, he hates that you are created in God's image. You remind him of everything he lost, and as a result, he has a strategic plan to destroy you.
What negative labels do you find yourself wearing? Every negative word spoken over you is part of Satan's plan — a lie from the Enemy. Satan's opposition to the truth is meant to antagonize and mock you. He sows seeds of discontent, saying, "You are not meant to be here," "You will never amount to anything," or, "People will only love you if you are successful." When you begin to believe these lies, the core of your belief system becomes founded on self-doubt. Satan undermines your dreams and diminishes your hope for the future through intimidation and fear — this is the force behind his one-size-fits-all plan to ruin your life and everyone else's lives too. He wants you to believe the lies spoken over you, making you believe yourself incapable of achieving the tailor-made plan that God has already designed for you.
You may have a fairy-tale story of how your parents prayed for you before you were conceived, planned for your entry into this world, and welcomed you with open arms. Or you might be the result of a one-night stand, a rape, or a surprise, as I was. Perhaps you were born and given away because, for a variety of painful reasons, your mother could not keep you or your father abandoned you at birth. Whatever the story of your origin, you can know this: God is the master Designer and divine Creator of the universe, and He has a tailor-made plan for you. Before time began, He designed a specific purpose that only you can fulfill. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." You are not one-size-fits-all; you are tailor-made by the Designer of the universe.
God's plan for your life may be under attack. You may think your start in life was hijacked, or you may think your life has no plan at all. However, God's plan is greater than the Enemy's lie, because God's plan for you is strategic — not one-size-fits-all.
God has a perfect, unique plan for good that has been tailor-made just for you. Even though Satan attacked His design, God will do whatever it takes to restore what Satan defiled in order to bring us back to His original design and purpose. He is a patient and masterful Designer who knows that anything of value takes time to construct. The details of a plan demonstrate the quality of the workmanship; therefore, it may require some time to restore you to God's intended design. But God always finishes what He starts.
Your start in life may not have been ideal, and you may be wondering why on earth you are here. I can assure you that once you discover who your God is, how much He loves you and desires relationship with you, and what He has planned for your life, you will also discover the reason you are here at this specific time and what you are meant to do. You are not an accident; you were lovingly designed by God, who has tailor-made a purpose for your life.
Why don't you take a minute and ask God to help reveal the areas in your heart that need healing? Allow Him to speak truth over your life to replace the lies you have believed.
Open the eyes of my heart and reveal the areas that need healing as I read through these pages. I want to hear Your truth. Wipe out the lies I have believed, and teach me to trust what You say about me. Speak to me and help me discover who I truly am.
In Your name, amen.
THE ORIGINAL DESIGN AND HOW IT BECAME FLAWED
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
— Genesis 1:31
I was born into an immigrant family. My father, Carmine, moved from Naples, Italy, in 1955 at the age of nineteen. With a small suitcase and the equivalent of twenty-five dollars in his pocket, he embarked on a journey for a better life than the one he left behind. He arrived on Australian soil not speaking a word of English. He had no job and no family. I can't even imagine what that must have been like for him.
My mum was also nineteen years old when she arrived in Australia, eight years later. My mum lived with her married older brother, whose wife happened to have a brother named Carmine. You guessed it — his wife's brother was the man who would eventually become my dad.
My mum was not at all thrilled about the living arrangements. My dad owned the home, and in true Italian tradition, they fit as many people as possible into the house to save money. My mother also couldn't speak any English, and she found the transition difficult because many of the natives in Australia treated immigrants with disdain and suspicion. To add insult to injury, she was living in a house with her brother, who was overbearingly protective and watched over her every move.
Excerpted from "Tailormade"
Copyright © 2018 Alex Seeley.
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
What Label Are You Wearing? xxi
Chapter 1 Design or Accident? 1
Chapter 2 The Original Design and How It Became Flawed 11
Chapter 3 The Fallout from the Fall 23
Chapter 4 The Power of a Label 37
Chapter 5 How Jesus Changes Everything 49
Chapter 6 Insecurity Is Not a Good Look on Anyone 67
Chapter 7 Who Is My Father? 79
Chapter 8 Forgiveness Unlocks Freedom 97
Chapter 9 The Process Is the Destination 109
Chapter 10 History Repeats Itself 121
Chapter 11 The Make or Break of Circumstances 137
Chapter 12 Our Perspective Makes the Difference 149
Chapter 13 From Desert to Destiny 161
Chapter 14 Finding Your Sense of Belonging 179
The Authentic You 191
It's Your Turn 197
About the Author 211