The Secret Illness

12 years old. It seems too young to be wanting someone else’s body at 12 years old. Too young to be feeling ashamed of the differences in body types between you and your peers. Too young to care. But, for me, age 12 is when I started to feel these things. As a basketball-playing tomboy who hated wearing dresses and brushing my hair, I grew up looking nothing like the Disney channel stars I watched on TV. Every morning I got on the bus knowing that when I got to school I was going to compare myself to the girls in my classes that straightened their hair, who were smaller than me, who were prettier than me, and who were more popular than me. The comparisons and insecurities of my 12-year-old self seem silly, but what started as simple comparison in middle school slowly turned into an eating disorder. It didn’t develop overnight- body image issues never do.

As a shy rising freshman in high school, my goal was not to stand out. My goal was to fit in with the majority and maybe, hopefully, be found pretty by a cute boy. I shaved, I curled, I wore make-up, and begged my mom for the trendiest clothes all in hopes that I would feel worthy. All in hopes that my messy haired, bullied, and tomboy middle school years could be forgotten. So, for the next 4 years, I hid. I hid behind the wall of insecurity I built up. I never let anyone know that behind my happy, pretty, athletic, and fun life I desperately craved some sort of affirmation that I was worthy. Hiding was easy. Keeping things secret was my form of control; a satisfying form of control. The less the people closest to me knew about my issues, the more I believed I was in control. I traded intimacy for control. The  longer that I traded, the more​ it led me to believe that ​I could control what they would think of me and how they viewed me. I became desperate to feel valuable and worthy.

“I think it’s one of the enemy’s greatest tactics, really. To provoke us to becoming so fixating with our own thoughts and wants that we are blind to the world around us. If we’re being honest, it doesn’t take much to coax us into a house of mirrors by making us believe that we are solely responsible for controlling our own lives- and that we must do it perfectly.”

Wreck My Life by Mo Isom

If I’m honest, sharing this part of my life is frightening. My heart pounds in my chest knowing that someone is going to read this messy and broken part of my life. But, amidst the fear of judgment, I share these things with joy. Joy in knowing that God is present, even in the messiest parts of our lives. Joy in being able to share how the Lord used these desperate years to teach me His grace, faithfulness, and love.

The cry of my heart during those years was for intimacy. Intimacy with my Creator but instead I turned to the things I could control; eating. I counted calories and worked out, all in secret. My unhealthy 1,000 calorie a day diet went unnoticed because I was good at being sneaky. I never acted like I cared or watched what I ate around my friends; all in hopes that they would think to themselves, “How is she so small when she eats things like that?”. And for too long, I lived like that. Pretending everything was fine. Pretending I was happy with myself. Pretending I was confident. But you can only pretend everything is perfect for so long.

For me, it had been too long. My freshman year of college is when God began a work and I started to realize my wreckage. The year was rough, as most freshman years are. It was the beginning of new freedoms. And my deep-rooted desire for intimacy was growing even stronger as my closest friends attended schools that were hours away. That year I searched in all the wrong places: Greek life, relationships, attention, knowledge, and appearance. And by the end of that school year, my pride took a beating as all the work I had done to feel worthy, all the things I did to feel accomplished, all the improvements I had made to be a “better” “healthier” person​ fell short. The summer following my freshman year, I attended Summer Leadership Project. I have no other words to describe that summer other than life changing. God used that summer as I worked at Chick-fil-A     ( & gained 10 lbs), lived in a cockroach infested room with 3 other girls, and exhausted myself every week to reveal his heart, love, and plan for me. It was that summer that the gospel became real to me and my heart felt cherished by God. He sent his Son to die for MY messy and broken life. He sent his Son even when He knew I would spend many years running in rebellion. He sent his Son and his Son rose again so I would spend forever in eternity with my creator. And so I would spend this life now, praising and sharing Him.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 14-16

For many years the verses above were nothing but a popular Pinterest quote. It was a quote I knew would come up if I ever attended a Christian woman’s talk. It was verses that felt uplifting but really had no impact until I started to unpack the weight behind them. God was my sweet Creator, who knit me together before I was even thought of. He made me intricately, with detail and design.  To Him, I was worthy. I am His wonderful work that He now looks at and sees His very own Son.

My prayer for anyone reading this that has ever struggled with, currently struggles with, or will struggle with making your own worth, through whatever means that may be; know that God treasures you because you are His wonderful creation. Understanding our worth in Christ is essential in overcoming our desperate need for control. If having immense worth to the creator of the universe and lover of our souls isn’t enough, then nothing ever will be.

All The Single Ladies

“Beyoncé wrote a song called “Single Ladies”, then went home to her husband and left you lonely girls dancing in a circle pretending to be happy.”

I saw this quote on social media the other day and immediately laughed and shared it with everyone around me. I thought it was hilarious and so, so accurate. Then I took a step back and realized that it shouldn’t be true at all. For some reason society has created an association between being single with being lonely & sad. But being single doesn’t mean that you’re lonely, it doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy, and it sure as heck doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. I started thinking about how often me and my girlfriends sit around talking about how we wish we had boyfriends, the ways we want our future boyfriend to propose, and the marriage and family we wish to one day have. And then it occurred to me, we rarely sit around talking about how happy we are to be single, nor do we celebrate this season of life.

I am probably the last person (if I’m being honest) that would tell you I am so thankful that I am in a season of being single right now… I mean this is coming from a girl who basically already has her wedding planned out on Pinterest.

bouquet toss meredith
Me, fighting for that bouquet!

From what dress I want to wear, to what songs I’m going to break it down to on the dance floor. (Kinda embarrassing, I know). But all of that to say, being single is hard and I totally get that.

I feel like most times when someone is struggling with being single they are given the “advice”, “God has someone amazing for you, just be patient.” But here’s the thing, we aren’t promised that and that shouldn’t be what we put our hope in. Our hope should be in Jesus alone. My main prayer for myself and really anyone reading this post, that also struggles with being single, is not that one day soon we will have amazing boyfriends or husbands (I do hope that, don’t get me wrong); it is to become content in our singleness and fall deeper in love with Jesus during it.

Now that word, “content”… If you look it up, it is defined as a “peaceful happiness”. Contentment shouldn’t be a feeling that comes and goes, but rather a choice we make daily. We need to wake up each morning and CHOOSE to believe that Jesus is better than anything this world has apart from Him. When Jesus becomes the main priority and the greatest treasure of our hearts, we can have a peaceful happiness in any and every circumstance. I mean, think about when Jesus was heading to the cross. Do you honestly think he was happy about his situation? Even then, he was content (Matthew 26:42). He was content as he endured our pain and punishment, because he knew what he was going through had purpose, and he knew the eternal effect. He was content because he was glorifying His Father, which was his ultimate desire. Jesus trusted the will of the Father over his own desires. He was seeking His Father’s plans and Father’s glory. So, when our biggest desire is to love, know, and glorify God, we then can also be content. Not when the cute guy at church asks you out or when you get a shiny rock on your finger. Those are GREAT things that I hope one day come, but they aren’t eternal and they are not things hope should be placed in. If marriage is the desire of you heart, you will be left heartbroken.

Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to read this verse and immediately think, “okay if I delight in the Lord, He will give me my desires” (Aka a husband). But, when it seemed like I was pursuing God with everything and there was still no guy in sight, I was left feeling forgotten. I was left feeling like I was doing something wrong. But here’s the wake-up call I got…THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. What this verse is actually saying is that when we truly delight ourselves in the Lord, our desires will align with his desires. Our desires will be to love the Lord with everything and our delight will be in His glory.

Lastly, we need to fix our minds on truths, rather than consume our minds with fairytales. If your mind is constantly being filled with thoughts of being a wife, having a wedding, and being loved by a man; then you are going to be disappointed. You are going to be left unsatisfied because the best guy you could ever imagine will still never love you and care for you as much as your creator. If you continue to speak the truth to yourself and believe that you are where God has planned for you to be, you can fully experience all that God has prepared. Right here, right now, in this season (single or not).

Trust me, I know being single is hard. And maybe one day your prince charming will come, or maybe he won’t. God doesn’t promise to match-make on your schedule. He does however promise to pursue you more than any guy ever could, to be with you always, to protect you, and to love you unconditionally. So, remember, it doesn’t matter what or who you don’t have, because you do have Jesus. He is all you need.

(CAUTION: cheesy closing line below)

So single ladies, do as Beyoncé says and put your hands up…and praise Jesus, who loves you more than any man ever could!

See, I warned you 😉

Blaire LaSure

Young & Married

If four years ago someone would have told me that I would get married weeks after I finished my third year of college, I would have called them crazy. Not because I didn’t want to get married, but because the idea of getting married so young didn’t seem realistic. I often dreamed of marriage and the cute little family I would hopefully one day have but as a freshman in college and rookie at good lasting relationships; I didn’t think marriage would be happening anytime soon. Little did I know, that in the first few weeks of college, at age 18, I would meet the man I would marry only two years later.13417405_10206736159305016_2902509453251559142_n

How we met wasn’t in any way that you would see in a romantic comedy or that makes you cry sweet, happy tears. And no, we did not have one of those, “I saw her and I knew she would be my wife,” kind of moments. My roommate, who at the time was one of my only good friends at school, was going to class and left me with one of her new-found college friends. I told him that I was craving some chocolate chip cookies and he said he knew of a friend’s place where we could bake. I rode with him over to this friend’s place and walked right into Nate’s apartment. Yes, I walked into Nate’s apartment as a stranger wanting to bake cookies. Long story short, he really liked the cookies and we ended up dating a year later. We dated for a little over a year but after only four months I knew that there was something so uniquely different about this man that I truly cherished. The way he loved the Lord, led me patiently, and graciously dated me through a rough season of life made me fall in love.

As a habitual dater in high school, I knew what surface level, comforting, and selfish relationships were like; but the relationship we were building had a foundation built on something truly lovely. The longer we dated the more it became clear to us what the Lord was calling us to, but honestly at the age of 20 I was a bit skeptical. Not because I doubted where the Lord was leading, but because our society had other views of what marriage should look like. You could not imagine how many times we heard, “Y’all are too young,” or, “I can’t imagine being married that young, I haven’t even figured myself out,” or my personal favorite, “So… you haven’t finished college yet?” (I had a year left). Although we were certain of our decision, these discouraging and insensitive comments hurt.

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Of course we had thought through the implications of being married, while I was also finishing my last year of college because it was so counter-cultural. But the unity the Lord was calling us to was far greater than an obstacle like school. I feel like our society views marriage as a stage in the game of life; it has it’s place but only after you’ve completed the necessary stages beforehand. You must finish college, date for a long time, be settled in your career, and maybe even move in together so you can know for sure whether you want to commit. But hey, if it doesn’t work out just get divorced, no big deal. But what Nate and I were called to is something far sweeter and far more impactful than what some could comprehend. No, I would not have believed you if you told me I would be a married woman at 20; but how thankful I am that it wasn’t my plan at all. It was the plan of a God who knew us before we were even born and had our stories written since the beginning of time, all for His glory. For us, marriage has been the sweetest earthly example of the gospel. For both of us, marriage has been the clearest and sweetest earthly example of the gospel. One of my favorite gospel passage written by Paul is below.

Ephesians 2: 1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We got a lot of “advice” (if that’s what you want to call it) where people would basically tell us how hard marriage was. How hard it was to live with another person. How hard it was to manage money or communicate with one another. How can anyone be expected to live sacrificially and selflessly in the context of marriage until you’re married? It takes time and it takes grace. It takes a commitment to a covenant the day you say “I do”. A commitment to loving another person sacrificially and submissively. The Lord calls us to cherish each other and nourish each other. The word I would use to describe marriage would never be “hard”, it would be “gift”. A sweet and precious gift that the Lord gives us to show the relationship He has with His church. A gift that He uses to make us more like Jesus.13735696_10207002929374101_4173477734207842733_o And now, as we celebrate over one year together, (myself 21 and Nate 23) there is no uncertainty of God’s timing. Marriage is a sweet and beautiful gift that He graciously gave Nate and I at a young age. Yes, it was hard to navigate our new roles as husband and wife at 20 years old, but we wouldn’t have wanted to wait for the next “stage” our society creates. This marriage was designed and created all for His glory and how thankful I am that I get to enjoy His gift right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get This Party Started!

Hello, and welcome to Whatever is Lovely. I’m glad you are taking the time to see what Whatever is Lovely is all about! I decided to name this collaborative and hopefully inspiring blog, Whatever is Lovely, because those three simple words have been foundational in the building of my faith. When life seems too busy to manage, insecurities seem too deep to overcome, and trust seems impossible; I have clung to those three words.

Philippians 4:4-9

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand’ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Even though Paul was writing these words to believers in Philippi many centuries ago, they still serve a purpose and remain true for believers today. But sometimes a peace that surpasses all understanding seems too good to be true. A peace amid deadlines, death, cancer, infertility, and addiction seems inaccessible. But Paul reminds us that this kind of peace IS attainable because of our sweet Savior, Jesus.

Jesus is truly lovely. Despite all the brokenness in our fallen world, Jesus is the answer. He has made us new by dying on the cross and rising again three days later! He has given us the most precious gift. He forgave us when we did not deserve it, but not only that, He then made us sons and daughters of the creator of the world. He adopted us into His family; where every day He gives us strength and grace. The gospel is truly lovely.

I would think about these things, just as Paul had written, and amid my messy world, whatever is lovely would transform my heart and my thoughts. My prayer is that this blog would remind whoever might read that Jesus is lovely.

This blog will feature posts from several women who each have unique gifts and thoughts; all to be shared with you! Singleness, addiction, infertility, marriage, eating disorders, jealousy, motherhood, body image, self-worth, exercising, and much more are all topics that we will be discussing. Chances are that you have experienced one or more of the topics listed above. If not, then you probably know someone who has. Stay tuned for more to read from Whatever is Lovely!