Your ability to win external battles has everything to do with your ability to fight the internal war successfully…
DEAR YOUNGER ME
I’m so glad you’re here. If I could wrap you up in a warm embrace and fill you in on the path
that you’re about to travel, I would lovingly tell you this:
I see you. I understand you. My heart feels for you. You long to be noticed, to be loved, to be included. You dream of what it would be like for someone to actually want you, think about you, choose to spend time with you. You want to be a person who those around you and those coming after you can look up to and be inspired by. You recognize that the most beautiful girls seem to be the most loved, looked up to, successful, admired, and you are falling for the belief that the way you look is in large part what determines your value and effectiveness in this world.
Believing that lie as truth, you will act on it. As you grow older and mold yourself to fit the unrealistic body standards of society, you’ll see yourself becoming thinner, thinking you are succeeding when people tell you how beautiful you are. Your appearance will open doors you had at one point only dreamt about. Being intrinsically insecure, the validation of others will become your oxygen. Their approval of you will cause you to forget about how much you feel like you’re not good enough. Deriving your worth and value from the affirmation of people, you will continue pursuing this ideal of who you think you must be (more specifically, what you must look like) in order to be important.
Throughout all of this, while striving for approval from people, God is there. He’s whispering to you, telling you just how treasured you are. He thought you up before the creation of the world. He very intentionally knit you together in your mother’s womb and shaped you to make an impact that only you can make. God. Chose. You. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe, and He gazes at you with love because you were his idea. He loves you as if you were the only person on earth. You are so important, and this world needs who God created YOU to be. He has such a special plan for your life.
You desire to live with excellence because you know that excellence honors God and inspires others. You work hard, you’re disciplined, and you are committed to making the dream God gave you a reality. Sweet girl, I love that you have this passion in you. God made you to lead, filled you with faith, and created you on purpose for a specific purpose in this world that only you can fulfill.
I understand it doesn’t seem like working towards fitting the completely-impossible-yet-
seemingly-totally-attainable-and-realistic beauty standards of culture is a bad thing. It feels like a necessary path to get where you want to go. You aspire to impact the world and you think no one will care who you are or what you have to say unless you are ‘’someone.’’ I get it. But I will lovingly challenge you with a beautiful reminder from my friend Rory Brown:
“You can do all you want to change your body - but mentally if you are living in a prison,
you will never truly be free. I lived for year many years thinking if I was perfect, I’d be
worthy of love. If we reverse engineer that statement, what am I walking around all day
saying to myself? That I’m not perfect and there is something wrong with me. Deal with
the perception of inadequacy and the rest will fall in line.”
This is a battle that must first be won in your mind. God does not make mistakes. You are one of one, created by God for a profound purpose in this world. If you do not believe this, then being controlled by the opinions of others will be a guaranteed way to forfeit God’s plan for your life.
Of course, we all look up to those who are excelling and making an impact and creating and
helping others in incredible ways, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It will, however, become a problem when taken to the extreme of believing you must conform in a certain way in order to be worthy. Absolutely, you should learn from others. But don’t forget to be yourself. Who you are will always matter infinitely more than what you look like. Embrace the design God has very intentionally fashioned you with.
Let’s take a moment and clearly define a few things you will miss out on in your unrelenting
pursuit of “perfection.”
Deep and meaningful relationships.
Chasing after an ideal that cannot be attained, you will prioritize exercise at least once –
probably twice – a day over spending time with others. That body isn’t going to happen by
accident, right? Oh, and you’ll also become so rigid in what you eat that going out to dinner with others (which is a precious opportunity to cultivate relationships and create cherished, lifelong memories) will turn into an anxiety producing impossibility. Instead, you will avoid it in your attempt to maintain a false sense of control over your life.
You will also fool yourself into thinking that you do not have time to simply relax with others or put “unclean” food into your body when you have a dream to go after. Yes, discipline is a vital skill to have. Yes, sacrifice is required to make an impact and grow into who God created you to become. But when taken to an extreme, these qualities become paralyzing weaknesses rather than the path to freedom; to the life you truly crave.
I want to pause here and remind you that you are amazing. Read it again and believe it. You.
Are. Amazing. I know you are not intending to self-destruct your entire life. You genuinely want to glorify God and lead others well. You’re just trying to do what people say it takes to be successful – “Control the controllables (Food ‘On it. Nothing unhealthy will enter this temple!’ Exercise ‘LET’S GO!!! If I’m not moving, I’m shriveling into decay.’)” … “Choose what you want most over what you want now!” … “Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God!”…etc.
If I’m being honest, I am still learning how to navigate these pieces of advice in a way that is
healthy and not self-defeating, and I believe it comes down to putting in the time and effort to develop the right mindset and perspective. This is why it is VITAL to have accountability and trusted people speaking into your life to help keep you on track - others who can see what you can’t see, hold you accountable, believe in you, challenge you, cheer you on, etc.
All this to say again, yes, I see you and I understand you. You are not alone.
Ironically, you know life is all about people. You believe God created us for relationships. But
you will defer that to a future moment you are believing for when you will finally reach the dream you know God has called you to. When that vision doesn’t materialize the way you thought and hoped and worked for, you will feel, at times, crushing loneliness and isolation - this on top of extreme disillusionment.
Right here is that opportune time when the enemy will level up his attacks, placing the thoughts in your head that you are less than, that you don’t matter, no one cares about you, you are unseen, unloved, and unimportant, and that you will never rise above this suffocatingly desolate place…to the point of not only not caring if you were here or not but tearfully asking God with a broken heart to just take you home.
Again - Your ability to win external battles will have everything to do with your ability to fight the internal war successfully. Investing your time and energy into cultivating a healthy internal life will be the most important choice you can make with your life. You cannot give to others what you do not have.
Your unflinching control and obsessive focus on body image through food and exercise will rob you not only of real relationships, but also the opportunity to create meaningful memories, embark upon daring adventures, experience enjoyment, laughter, fun, etc. And yes, ultimately that all ties back into the people you do life with…or lack thereof when you choose the path of restriction and control. Life. Is. All. About. Relationships. I cannot reiterate that enough.
Living a life that you believe you need to live in order for people to like you will never ever ever ever end you up in a place of thriving and becoming the person God wants you to be. It will only tear you down and block you from doing with your life what He intentionally created you to do. Please hear me - you are so significant. The Creator of the universe positioned you at this point in history because He knew that at this moment, with the gifts and passions he put within you and the intricate architecture He’s sculpted your body with, you could make the greatest impact for Him and others.
Own who God created YOU to be. This is where doing the internal work comes in. Do you
know who you are? Do you know Whose you are? One of the greatest investments of your
time and energy (if not the greatest) will be discovering the answer to these questions. God
cannot work through you the way He wants until He does this deep work within you.
Authenticity connects, inspires, and helps others. Pretenses isolate us, exhaust us, and cause
profound stress due to the lack of integrity between what we say and how we live. When we
curate our lives in such a way that only our strengths and successes are visible, it may impress people, but the opportunity for growth and deep, genuine connection evaporates. Others may think, “Oh that’s great for her, but I could never do something like that. On the other hand, when we do the work to cultivate a rooted identity in Christ, this solid foundation gives us the courage and confidence to authentically and vulnerably share our true selves with others, and inspires people to think, “If God can use someone like her, maybe God can use me too.”
My dear younger, highly focused, all-in, driven, stubborn self. Trust me. This path you’re on is
wildly unsustainable. Yes, at first you will feel like you are crushing it - totally on top of the
world, getting the results you want. Your discipline and determination are paying off. In time,
however, as you push harder and restrict more, your health will most certainly erode. You will
develop crippling gut issues. This will leave you incredibly confused because you thought you were doing every single thing right…. according to what society tells you to do. You thought you were among the healthiest people on the planet.
When doctors don’t know how to help you and these troubles remain, you will find yourself
hopelessly crying out to God for relief. This will be on top of, and probably (definitely) linked to not having had a period for many years. Sure, it was convenient, but you will come to learn just how important having your hormones working properly is for your overall health.
You will be amazed at what recovery will do for you in every aspect of your life. I promise.
TAKE HEART. THERE IS HOPE.
Believe that you will rise again. You will be stronger, better, and more equipped than ever to be who God created you to be and do what He’s called you to do. Choose to lean into God and Do. Not. Give Up. Through all of this, He’s never left you. He is still with you, believing in you, giving you the power to keep going. It really is true - God works all things together for your good and His glory. His best for you is still to come.
Show yourself grace, as God does unendingly, when you find yourself in this isolated desert you never intended to end up in. Again, the enemy will do his best work to get you thinking you are hopeless and unimportant, that you can’t trust God, that you should give up because it’s never going to get better. I pray you will open your perspective to the beautiful opportunities this season holds for you. Growth happens in the dark room. God is wanting to prepare you for what He has prepared for you. Our trust requires stretching and being challenged. It’s the only way it can start growing.
The more you come to know the One who will catch you, the more you will find the courage to take the leap He is inviting you to take. When your trust in Him goes deeper, the dare you are willing to take goes further. The dare to trust is also the invitation to discover more of God. You are on a journey of trusting God in new areas. You’re learning to trust his voice when things don’t make sense. You will experience scary moments and deeply insecure moments. You will also see that when you take the trust fall, God will catch you in the most beautiful ways.
Will the journey of recovery and change be easy? Absolutely not. But as you know, nothing
worth doing ever is. Your call is not based on it feeling good, looking good, sounding good, or treating you good. Be willing to do the work and persevere, fully dependent on God every step of the way. Do not quit and walk away from the very assignment God has entrusted into your hands. There are people God has destined you to reach on the other side of your struggles.
Take heart. You get tested the most when it’s time for you to elevate. Don’t break. Embrace
the unexpected adventure He has for you with wholehearted, unshakable faith in Him.
When your carefully crafted plan crumbles, you will discover where your faith lies – in God or in your circumstances. It’s so easy to believe in God when everything flows as you want it to.
When it doesn’t, who are you? Where is your identity rooted? This will determine how you
respond – identity shapes actions.
Be encouraged, struggling with doubts and questions is a part of boldly pursuing God in faith. An untested faith is no faith at all. If you understood everything that’s going to happen in your life, there would be no need for faith. If you’re not doing anything that requires faith, I’d argue that maybe you don’t have a genuine faith at all…which requires action. You’ve got this, girl. Keep believing. Keep stepping out.
In the storm, you will experience Jesus in a way that is impossible to achieve through comfort, convenience, and constant success. This is a vital process in growing you on your faith journey. Again, God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you.
While this is the minefield that you’ll journey through, it will create an unshakable character
within you if you do not give up. Though you can’t see it in the moment, when you choose to
respond in faith (leaning into Jesus and not away from Him), when you’ve done the deep work and made the changes you need to make (note that this is a continuous process), and when you learn from your mistakes and resiliently choose to become a victor rather than a victim, you will find that you are stronger than ever.
You’re now in a wonderful position to resiliently jump into the deep again, equipped with more
wisdom and a greater capacity to help people than you had before your struggles. Your trials
have made you more empathetic and increased your ability to relate to and connect with others who are walking through lack of self-worth, disappointment, loneliness, doubt, health setbacks, etc.
God is a gracious Father. He wants you to become more like Him through your challenges. He wants you to trust Him and allow Him to do the deep work in you so that he can work powerfully through you in ways beyond your wildest dreams.
Believe this. Feel this. Know this. God is not done with you. He is still with you, in you, and for you even when nothing in your life has turned out as you had hoped. Even when you feel
empty, lonely, and purposeless. Even after exorbitantly expressing your anger and
overwhelming doubts with God. Even when you are convinced that He’s not real or that He’s
left you. These lies of the enemy will be intolerably loud at times.
Sweet girl, God believes in you. You are His treasured daughter. He loves you with a love that
is beyond anything you can comprehend. He will never give up on you. Please don’t give up on Him, and please don’t give up on yourself. In Him you are enough and becoming more. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. You are loved, you are worthy, and you matter.
I’ll leave you with this reminder as you journey through life, walking step by step with God: Your ability to win external battles has everything to do with your ability to fight the internal war successfully. The power of your mindset in this battle cannot be overstated. The good news is that you get to choose it.
The greatest gift you can give to anyone is a healthy you. Do the work (clearly you are more
than capable of putting in what it takes) and wait with expectation as the seeds you sow in faith take root and begin to grow.
You’ve got this. I believe in you, I’m rooting for you, I’m here for you, and most importantly, the Creator of the universe is too.