I am my mother’s daughter.
I have the fierceness ingrained in our family, passed down from generation to generation. We are bold, determined, willing to speak our minds.
My mom and I are similar in that we know how to be assertive and go after what we want in life. We can be overbearing at times, and it’s funny how often I hated this trait in my family yet I exhibit it myself.
For so long I saw myself as brash and loud, even obnoxious. I wasn’t too bothered by this fact; I just accepted myself for who I was and saw these things as family heirlooms that were inevitably passed down to me.
My mother and I are fierce women, but for so long I believed that fierceness was all we had. As empowering as it can be to realize that you are assertive and bold, it can also be discouraging.
When faced with serious subjects for most of my life, I was quick to laugh and brush things off. I didn’t think I knew how to be soft and vulnerable or comfort others during times of mourning. My parents and I just always used humor and loudness and name-calling to survive while others used tears. My friends say, “I’m so sorry that happened.” We say, “that sucks. Beat her up.”
It wasn’t until recently that I began to question my identity compared to my mother’s. I love her so dearly, but I knew that there was something in me that didn’t want to be defined the way my mom seemed to define herself. After all, I’m not always loud and brash. I do occasionally like hugs and comfort. I can sometimes be shy and soft-spoken. I just have a hard time convincing myself that these things, these nice things, are a part of me as well.
After observing the tenderhearted love exchanged between others this past year, I have been wondering if I have that sort of gentleness in me. My grandma has been whispering in my ear all my life that I have a gentle spirit and kind heart, but if I have such things, I sure do have a hard time accessing them.
The unfortunate truth is that my exterior masks my interior all too well, and I have been defining myself by my loudest qualities rather than the secret, softer ones.
All along I have had gentleness inside me; I just haven’t been diving deep enough into myself to find it. For so long, I allowed my confident and bold front to be all that there was because I was afraid, and still am at times, that there’s nothing else to uncover.
To this day I often put up this front. I’ve been told that I come across as intimidating and self-confident. The truth is I’m unsure of myself and afraid in many ways. It’s the fear of vulnerability that keeps my true self from coming out of hiding. There’s nothing worse than feeling ignored or unimportant. There’s nothing more frightening than being yourself and facing rejection.
So for a while I have forgotten how to let myself be myself.
However, I’m starting to find that hidden gentleness in me again, what other people were able to locate while I seemingly couldn’t, and I’m surprised at how quickly I can find it in my mom as well.
I can see it in the way my mom will call someone out and say things that no one else would dare proclaim, all for the sake of making sure no one she loves is hurt or taken advantage of. She will express her feelings loud and clear, but that’s because there’s a part of her that isn’t afraid of vulnerability and being known. She is determined and a go-getter, but it’s the maternal instinct and desire to take care of her family that spurs her on. She wears sweats and foregoes makeup shamelessly, but she is feminine at heart.
Even though she might not admit it, my mom can be tenderhearted and, well, a girl. As can I.
The truth is that we both have Eve in us. All women do. We, like Eve, are made in God’s image and for a special purpose. We are destined to be caretakers of others. We have a maternal instinct, which can be stifled yet not completely extinguished. If you look at the definition of the name “Eve”, you might be surprised to find that it simply means “life.” Women bring life to others.
My mom and I are not exceptions. We also bring life to others. We will fight in order to protect loved ones. We will speak up in order to preserve justice. We are ingrained with wisdom on how to nurture and take care of others. And at times, we know that there are kind, loving words of truth just behind our lips. We don’t always say them, but the words are there.
Are we loud? Yes. Do we become controlling and overbearing sometimes? You bet. Are we occasionally brash and maybe even rude? Indeed.
But I can’t say that we don’t know how to love or how to be gentle and soft.
My mom and I choose to love with fierceness.
Yes, I will always be my mother’s daughter, and I’m proud of that fact.
“We are never so vulnerable as when we love.”
I love this quote. The thing that I’ve been struggling with the most lately is the thought of being vulnerable while loving people and serving God, which I desire to do above all else.
There are two pressing arguments in my head that I cannot avoid. On one side is the argument that I must love people to the best of my ability even though there is the possibility of getting hurt, rejected, or persecuted. On the other side is the argument that I must not love at all so I avoid rejection and hurt, though I’d probably end up disappointing myself and God in the process. Either I can put myself out there and be hurt by others or I can keep to myself and also hurt myself.
The prophet Jeremiah experienced this sort of pain. Even though God warned him that he would be persecuted and hated by the Israelites while delivering God’s message to them, He still felt the weight of their rejection and the sorrow from seeing them in bondage because of sin.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty… I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:16-18)
Despite the acknowledgment of this unbearable pain he was experiencing through his obedience to God, he still continued living out his calling. Why? Because God was with him every step of the way. After Jeremiah’s lament, God responds.
“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me… I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you.” (Jeremiah 15:19, 20)
God knew the Israelites would fight against Jeremiah and reject his message. Did this change God’s desire for Jeremiah to obey? No. The sorrow that Jeremiah felt because of the Israelites’ sin was nothing compared to the sorrow God felt, and it was this sorrow that drove God to continue pursuing His people.
One thing we must remember is that the pain we experience through living out our calling and loving people in this world is nothing compared to the pain God has experienced through His love. This pain ultimately occurred on the cross. Even as Jesus foresaw this suffering and prayed for His Father to take the cup away, the cup of God’s wrath that would be poured out on Him as He died on the cross for all of mankind’s sin, He still knew what he had to do.
And I know what I have to do. I have to continue obeying by loving, even if such love causes tremendous pain.
We are going to face hurt and suffering in this world, both in our lives and from watching the lives of those around us. Turning our backs to protect ourselves only prevents us from glorifying God to the utmost and transforming into His Son who loved more than we ever could through selflessness, sacrifice, and suffering.
Pain is involved in loving, and that’s expected. So is joy. And purpose. And hope.
I know I still won’t be as bold in love as I should be, but I also know I don’t want to let my life go by without completing the calling God has put on my life to love His people. Because of that, I want to choose to love when I can and allow myself to receive forgiveness for the opportunities to love that I miss.
Will I be perfect at loving others? No. And that’s okay. Jesus is the only perfect lover, and we are simply given the gift of experiencing His love and giving out His love. Love is a gift from God, and you can’t mess that up, even when vulnerability is involved.
It’s true that we are never so vulnerable as when we love, and that’s what makes love all the more daring and beautiful.
I challenged myself today. I challenged myself to compose a list of 100 things I fear in life. At first, I was a bit skeptical of this proposition. How was I going to think of 100, let alone 20? Surprisingly, I completed the task.
I wasn’t quite sure what I’d get out of writing this list when I first started, but I ended up discovering something quite shocking about myself.
I concluded that I fear for my life.
All of my fears are based around putting my life at risk, whether it be my spiritual life, social life, emotional life, or physical life.
I have fears of straying away from my faith and disappointing God. I fear that I’ll give in to temptations and I’ll miss opportunities to bring others to Christ.
I’m afraid of other people and what they think of me. I fear that I’ll be judged and disliked. I’m scared of hurting others and losing the ones I love.
I fear that a part of me will always be discontent with life and that will hinder my relationship with God. I fear that I won’t fulfill God’s plan for me and my life won’t amount to something.
I’m scared of getting hurt, both emotionally and physically. I’m afraid that I’ll get cancer or I’ll die in a tragic death before I even do anything meaningful with my life. I fear that I’ll be killed or raped or abducted.
These are all pretty rational fears, but they’re not healthy. I know they’re not.
It’s okay to be afraid of losing someone, it’s okay to feel wary about the future, but when these fears start consuming thoughts and entire lives, it’s not okay anymore. Some of the things I listed are constantly on my mind. I’ve become obsessive over them, trying to figure out how to prevent my fears from coming true, trying to find a way to make things all better. It’s not okay. I’m finally telling myself that it’s not okay.
If I say I trust God, I do not need to fear for my life as I do now. I don’t need to worry about the future or what can happen to me. I need to remember that we all get hurt sometimes. We all lose people we love. We’re all judged. We’re all sinners. We all disappoint people. Nobody is perfect. I need to accept these facts and push away the fears that are holding me back from truly living the life God has called me to live. I need to surrender.
I don’t want to fear for my life anymore.
“Don’t worry about things… Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?… If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?… Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:24-34)
What are you afraid of? I dare you to make a list. You might just be surprised and discover something about yourself you never really realized before. Most importantly, when you finish writing and reflecting, give your fears up to God.
“Lord, I’m scared. Please take my fears. I don’t want to be afraid of the unknown anymore. I don’t want to worry anymore. I know that you love me and you’re taking care of me. Even when I can’t see the big picture, please help me put my complete trust in you. Thank you. Amen.”
This week I’m participating in a summer youth camp at my church where we worship and listen to a speaker in the morning, and then go out into our communities to do service projects. Several things happened today, both good and somewhat not-so-good.
First, the worship band this morning was AH-MAZING! The song that definitely opened my eyes was “Send Me Out” by Fee, one of my favorite Christian bands.
“Jesus, Lord of my salvation, Savior of my soul, send me out to the world to make You known. Jesus, King of every nation, this world’s only hope, send me out to the world to make You known. Send me out to the world
I wanna be Your hands and feet. I wanna be Your voice every time I speak. I wanna run to the ones in need, in thename of Jesus. I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdoms sake. Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus
Carry to the broken hearted mercy You have shown. Send me out to the world to make You known. And to the ones in need of rescue, lead me I will go. Send me out to the world to make You known. Send me out to the world
I wanna be Your hands and feet. I wanna be Your voice every time I speak. I wanna run to the ones in need, in the name of Jesus. I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdoms sake. Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus
Here am I, I will go. Send me out to make You known. There is hope for every soul, send me out, send me out. Here am, I will go. Send me out to make You known. There is hope for every soul, so send me out.
I wanna be Your hands and feet. Be Your voice every time I speak. I wanna run to the ones in need, in the name of Jesus. I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdoms sake. Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus.”
After hearing this song, my motivation was just spiked, and I was super excited about serving others today. BUT when we arrived in an impoverished community to have fun and play games with little kids, I just wasn’t feeling it. Let me just come right out and say this: I’m not a kid person. I literally have no experience with little children, so I’m just a very awkward person around them. Ask me to clean, I got your back. Tell me to make cards for the elderly, I’ll spend hours. But expect me to do something with children, and I’ll disappoint you.
It’s not that I didn’t want to show God’s love and participate in the activities, it’s just that I didn’t know how. I don’t have enough experience serving yet, and I was just diving too fast into it by having to hang out with these children I know nothing about. I don’t think my group or leaders were disappointed in me, but I was deeply disappointed in myself. I want to be a good example to others and do everything I can for God’s glory, but my fears and insecurities got the best of me.
Maybe this is what Moses felt in the book of Exodus. I just finished reading about him last week, and I’m surprised I’m able to make such a quick parallel to my life. You see, Moses had fears and insecurities just like me. Hey, we all do. And when God told him he was going to free the Israelites and become a leader of the nation, his fears and insecurities crept into his mind, telling him he wasn’t worthy of the job. He didn’t think anyone would listen to him, and he used his disabilities (speech impediment) and shortcomings (murder and past sins) as excuses.
Moses and I were both put in situations where we weren’t exactly sure of ourselves. He made excuses using his disabilities, and I made excuses using my lack of experience. Moses and I both felt insecure about the job we were faced with, afraid of not being worthy or doing things right. The difference between us, however, is that Moses ultimately allowed God to use him, while I didn’t do nearly anything today.
I want to be like Moses. He was a leader with full devotion and faith in God. He trusted Him with his LIFE. The miracles he performed and the amazing things he did just make me want to gape and say, “Wow, I wish God could do things through me like he did for Moses.”
The reality is, HE CAN. God can work through each and every one of us to fulfill our ultimate purpose here on earth. The one thing he requires from us, though, is trust. The key to a relationship with Jesus and living out a miraculous life for God’s glory is trust. It’s only a five-letter word yet it’s something we all have trouble with from time to time, some more than others.
This morning, the verse and reading in my devotional book really related to the events that happened today. I was in a hurry, I wasn’t really thinking and diving deep into it at the time, but looking back on it, I realize what it really meant.
“Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
This verse just struck a chord after realizing the internal struggles that occurred within me today. It goes on to say:
“…Today, summon the courage to follow God. Even if the path seems difficult, even if your heart is fearful, trust your Heavenly Father and follow Him. Trust Him with your day and your life. Do His work, care for His children, and share His Good News. Let Him guide your steps. He will not lead you astray.”
Isn’t this just amazing? It’s like God is speaking directly to me through this. I wish I had remembered this earlier today, but at least I took the time to reread it now. If I hadn’t, I could’ve missed out on an important lesson God is trying to show me.
Realizing this, I’m actually ready to go back to camp tomorrow. I’m not sure what tasks I’ll be faced with, but I’m willing to trust that God will guide me through the day and use me for His glory. If I had just trusted in Him today and pushed aside my fears and insecurities, I could’ve done so much more with those kids who may not know or see God’s love or forgiveness yet. Realizing this now makes me a bit sad and disappointed, I’ll admit, but I think God may have planted those fears inside me for a reason. Maybe He just wanted me to realize how much I need Him.