via joanna galuszka
Why am I pressured?
4 words with an extra heavy question mark.
I sat in front of 50+ middle school girls. Each given a slip of paper, a pen, and an invitation to ask anything. Anything. From dating to social media to embarrassing. They could ask us anything. Anonymously.
How old should you be to date? How do I deal with wanting something we can't afford? Do guys like modest or immodest dress? Why do girls always hang out in groups? How do I convince my parents to let me have instagram? Why can't I get a babysitting job?
We collected the slips in a frisbe. Folded up and crumbled. Scribbled writing. Secrets and shame rolled in. I pulled them out one by one. Us four leaders pouring out honest answers as our own memories from junior high swarmed us.
and then this one.
Why am I pressured?
Heaviness. I felt heaviness in my heart. How I wanted to scream! I searched the eyes of the girls. Grades 6 through 8. All 11 to 13 years old. Which soul had cried this onto this lined piece of scrap paper? I hate. I hated that question.
Why do you feel pressured? I will tell you sweet sweet girl.
You feel pressured because you live in a very fallen world. A world that is shouting and pointing at you from every angle without escape telling you that you have to be smart enough, thin enough, a good home keeper, a business woman, sexy, quick witted, able to do 5000 things at once, what underwear to wear, how tall to be, what to watch, what to eat, what to not eat, how to live every which way than the way you were called.
You feel pressured because all these things are pulling us away every second of every day from our sole desire and goal. They all tell you that to love God for who he is and to love yourself for the way God made you is not enough.
It's the same lie from the very first ever told. That one back in the garden. The serpent spoke. And she listened.
God is withholding from you. You are not enough.
Lies lies lies. All lies.
And the serpents still speak lies. Viciously attractive lies that sting us and lore us all at once. Even the most prayerful, Jesus loving, Bible reader can fall to them. The lie that we must be more. We are not enough. We are a mistake. Why bother being me?
We forget that He calls us his Beloved.
Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.
Oh sweet one. How I wish I could tell you the pressure goes away. Sadly, the pressure gets stronger. But you too sweet girl will grow. As you put your trust in a God who is who He says he is - a God that created your inward parts and knows every hair on your head, a God who works all things for your good, a God who died for you and rose again - as you believe in him, abide in him, delight in him, you will find yourself more armored to the attacks. You are his beloved. On whom his favor rests. He will fight for you. And it is a fight he has already won.
Henri Nouwen gives this beautiful summary of God the Father's love for us (How I wish I could engrave this on your heart -- on my heart!):
I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother's womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at ever step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your souse... yes, even your child... wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.
Sweet one. Please forgive me if it is ever I who enforces pressure on your life. If I ever make you believe you fall short of an invisible standard. If it is ever I who makes you feel small or unimportant. You are vastly loved. Beyond measure.
indented quotes from Henri Nourwen's book Life of the Beloved.