The title of this blog post does not have a lot to do with the overall message, but hey, I got your attention, right? Now that I have it, I hope to keep it.
A few months ago, my lovely friend Ashley got engaged to a wonderful guy named Joel. She has been so kind to ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. What an honor! I have never been in a wedding before; I am really looking forward to this! As you know, bridesmaids need (or mostly just want) bridesmaid dresses. Well, a bunch of us in her wedding party went to try some dresses on. (The dress we chose is absolutely stunning, and I can’t wait for that day when Ash and Joely tie dat knot.) After we chose the dress, we all stood in line at the counter of the dress shop and got measured. You probably know where this is going. All the other girls I was with are pretty teeny. PROPS! And well, I wouldn’t classify myself as teeny. The girl behind the counter is clarifying everyone sizes, pretty loudly. Then she says, “LAUREN! SIZE __!?” My face turns red. My heart is beating fast. I look at her and politely say, “Yes, that is correct.” While in my head I’m saying YES. YES MA’AM. THAT IS MY SIZE. HELLO ALL. HELLO TO THE WHOLE SHOP! LAUREN YOUNG HERE, SHE WEARS A DOUBLE-DIGIT SIZED DRESS. Dang, lady, that hurt. I know she didn’t mean to, and yes, I may be exaggerating a little, but it happened. And I replay over in my mind all too often. Stay with me.
A few weeks ago, I led a group of 11th grade girls in a weekend retreat called DNOW at my church, Istrouma. The theme of the weekend was Identity. When I heard this, I’m thinking, yeah yeah yeah my identity is in Christ, not things of the world like boys and school and my body and wah wah wah, I got it. Little did I know that weekend would rock me. We had the privilege of spending the weekend with Mo Isom, a professional speaker that graduated from my university, LSU! #GeauxTigers. Man, this woman loves her some Jesus. Actually not just some Jesus. A lot of Jesus. I was blown away by her charisma, charm and confidence in herself and her relationship with Jesus. Without sharing her whole testimony (you can check it out here), she has been through some STUFF. The word “stuff” is used very lightly here. One thing Mo taught us that really stood out to me was that what we are “advertising” is what we are going to get—the way we girls dress, act, speak, etc. In my head, I’m like, I just wanna be cute, not a slut. Ugh. Can’t I just buy my jeans a little tight? She’s sitting there telling us about how our generation has seemingly placed our identity in the wrong things—for example Instagram, as silly as it sounds. I had literally posted a picture ON THE WAY to the retreat that morning of me and my date from Chi Omega formal the night before and was checking it like a pyscho to see how many likes I would get. #boomsauce #kbye. And then she told us something I will never forget. She was walking through the mall as a teenager with one of her friends; Mo was wearing a short blue jean skirt (Who remembers those? Yeah, don’t deny it.) and a tight little shirt (I wore Abercrombie…). The two were strolling through the mall, and they noticed men of all shapes, sizes and ages staring at Mo. Mo’s friend turned to her, looked her straight in the eye and said, “Mission accomplished.” Mo had no idea what she was talking about. Her friend confidently said, “Mission accomplished, Mo. You have successfully made all these old men want to have sex with you.” My heart dropped. Disgusting. My initial reaction was WHAT? Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Oh. My. Gosh. Somebody get me sweatpants and a blanket because I’m wearing Nike shorts. Obviously, I came to my senses BUT also realized how RIGHT Mo’s friend was. How can we, girls who love Jesus, sit here and complain that there are no “good guys” out there when WE are the very thing causing them to stumble. The rest of that talk was absolutely incredible; I took so many notes and would love to talk to anyone about it more. Definitely portray myself a lot differently now. Thanks, Mo, for allowing Jesus to be heard through you!
A few hours ago, I was at work. Woo? Work. Yeah, work. I really like my job. I am so thankful for it. It has allowed me to learn so much (read my other blog post about it). Well, one aspect of my job is to plan and run what we call “New Owner Celebrations.” They are held on Thursday nights at each of our dealerships; we are thanking our customers for buying a car from us and showing them how to reach us if they need anything in the future. Well, tonight’s was a little different than normal. I was serving food to our customers and a random lady walks up to me; I can tell she wants to talk to me. I turn to face her and she kinda touches her stomach and mumbles something under breath. I said, “What did you say, ma’am?” She then gently points at my stomach and then back to hers and says, “Are you expecting?” Let that soak in ladies. And gents. Yep. The worst nightmare of all nightmares. Someone asked me if I was pregnant. Y’all, let me tell you, it hurt. It hurt really really really really really x212390129 bad. Just like in the dress shop, my face turned red. But this time, I was angry. Once again, as I looked down at my stomach, I politely said, “Oh, no ma’am. I’m not.” As soon as she walked away, I was mad. I was feeling a lot of anger. I mean a lot. A ton. I immediately wanted someone to console me. Love me. I immediately wanted someone to feel sorry for me. I wanted attention to fill the hole she just created in me. I turned to my boss, eyes welling up with tears and told her what the lady said. Of course, she said, “Oh, my gosh. Lauren, no. You don’t look like you’re pregnant. That’s absolutely ridiculous.” That’s what I wanted to hear, wasn’t it? She told me to go to the bathroom and collect myself. My phone was in my pocket so when I got to the bathroom, I immediately called my mom. Why? I’m not really sure other than just to hear her say the same thing my boss just told me. “Lauren, that is crazy. Don’t let her get to you. You don’t look pregnant. Not even close.” You get the picture. A few paper towels and a whole pity party later, I walked back into the Celebration. The lady came back near me and I just smiled. But, boy was my heart not really loving her. In that moment, I thought about Jesus. I really wanted nothing more than to punch her square in the nose and say, “LADY, I’VE BEEN EATING HEALTHY. I’VE ACTUALLY LOST WEIGHT. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME.” But, is that what Jesus would have done? Is that what Jesus would have wanted me to do? Ultimately, we are on this earth to bring glory to God. Down to our daily actions. Paul says in Titus 2, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” So, I smiled at her as hard as it was. I have since forgiven this lady, but boy, my pride is killing me. Even posting this.
Why is this relevant to you? I want to use my experiences to inspire you. I thoughtI believed my identity was in Christ. I thought I could tell the world that. Obviously, I have built up self-image issues. I am messed up. I am so broken. But, that’s not who I am. I am daughter of THE King, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He washes me from my brokenness- my desire to find my identity in my body image or in wanting others to feel sorry for me. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Galatians 1:10. PRAISE JESUS. Praise Jesus for who He is. Maker. Healer. Redeemer. Lover. Sacrifice. Living.
Why am I telling you all these stories of my life? I am not looking for attention. I am not looking for approval. In fact, please don’t text me as soon as you read this, and tell me you really enjoyed it, or that you don’t think I look pregnant. Because, guess what? I’m praying for my identity to not be in the words or approval of others. Instead, sit down for a second in the silence with God praising Him that your identity is not in anything of this world; thank Him for creating you as His child, and ask Him to help you want to seek Him more. You can’t learn to love and trust someone without hanging out with them first.
At the end of the day, I am not the only person who struggles with this.
At the end of the day, that lady’s words are just words.
At the end of the day, my boss’, Mom’s and friends’ words are just words.
But, at the end of the day, my King’s Word is not just words. His Word is breathing, living, infallible. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” -Psalm 139:14. I believe it. Do you?