About a year ago, I was sitting on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. I had reached a point of exhaustion with a cycle of hating my body, trying to figure out how to fix it, wondering what was wrong with me, and wrestling with a feeling of knowing this couldn’t be what God wanted for me. My tears on the floor watered a seed of wondering if there was a way that as Christian women, we could experience some of the freedom we are promised in Christ if we were to just open up and share our stories? That seed blossomed into UnBlemished. And today, instead of sobbing on a floor I am praising on my knees all that the Lord has done in this last year of UnBlemished.
When you have a vision, it is easy to see a finished product, but the steps toward getting to that final image can be a bit blurry. One of the first verses I stumbled across when I was planning all that UnBlemished could be was, “you are just a branch, not the root.” (Romans 11:18b). I knew that none of my visions would come to fruition if it wasn’t the Lord’s will, and that I was merely a branch in the Lord’s work.
The key scripture of UnBlemished is Psalm 115:1 “not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” While I still have dreams and visions for UnBlemished, I never could have imagined the way this first year would have gone. I thought that UnBlemished could reach and change people’s lives and touch Christian women of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. And it has. But, I had no idea how much it would end up shaping and changing me along the way.
I would categorize the work of UnBlemished in three ways, and these three ways are the ways I have been changed this year.
- Inner. “Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “why have you made me like this?”” (Romans 9:20). Change must begin inward. We must encounter our Creator and acknowledge the fact that we are creation. This is a humbling realization, but also freeing. It is a way of filling our hearts with the truth that we are loved, adored, and created with a purpose. The inner is where we shove away all the messy bits we don’t want people to know. Whether it’s an eating disorder, a problem with comparison, or even a deep struggle of not knowing whether you are saved—the inner is where we like to hide our deepest struggles and insecurities. The inner is never hidden from Jesus. And when we begin to let his light shine into the deep crevices and begin to allow that light to illuminate these struggles to those around us in our body of Christian women, darkness loses. Our struggles begin to become a surrendered act of obedience. We realize we are not alone and that our stories can encourage and free us.
- Outward. While the inner is quite easy to hide, the outward is what the rest of the world sees. This is the area where it’s easy to put on a smile and show the world what we think they want to see. This is the area I have wrestled with my whole life. My outside was never what I wanted it to be. Yet, through this last year of coming to terms with being loved creation, through seeing power of vulnerability and sharing, realizing I have no place to ask God why he made me the way he did, I have learned to love the outside. I have learned to better love the parts of my body I used to hate; I have learned that Jesus does not ask for some fake version of me. He only wants me. And it is us he uses for the Kingdom, in all our messy flaws, in all our continued growth, and in all our blemishes.
- Others. This is my favorite part. This is where we realize that it is not about us. I have been amazed to see the people that UnBlemished has reached—and the power behind realizing that none of us are perfect, and none of us are alone. Sharing our stories and struggles is not condemning or isolating; instead it empowers, encourages, and unites us. No matter our background, our experiences, our differences—we are all human. We are all wrestling with our flesh versus our spirit, and all of us lose some days and in some ways. When we look beyond ourselves and our problems, we see that in front of us are hurting people in a broken world. We realize that this is why Jesus came to serve and not to be served.
I am still learning. I am excited to see where I and UnBlemished are at in another year. Somedays I still find myself crying; yet I’ve learned to embrace those moments, to write about them, to share them with people around me. I’ve found that in those moments where my insecurities want me to believe that I am alone and that I am an anomaly I have a Father and Creator who is whispering “I know. I understand. I created you and I love you. You are enough. Come to me.”
It is a blessing to be a branch in an unshakeable root. It is a blessing to see the Lord work through something I never could do by myself. I am not UnBlemished. You are UnBlemished. We are UnBlemished. Thank you for journeying with me this year, I can’t wait for this next one!
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2