I recently finished the Women’s Bible Study, “Redeemed” by Angela Thomas-Pharr. Once again, I’m amazed at how God can speak the most timely and perfect words over me when I need it most, even when I don’t know I need it most. He is incredibly good like that!
THE UGLY DUCKLING
Halfway through the 7-week study, we were encouraged to begin to write our story, starting with just a few words that would tell others who we were, maybe what we felt defined us. As I thought about my childhood and what defined Jenny Krukar, the first sentence that came to me was “I am an only daughter raised with 4 brothers.” I smile and thank God for the family who has loved me, protected me and supported me. So many times I recall when over-protective brothers tried to shield me from icky boys and drilled any prospective date as to his intentions with their little sister. It wasn’t bad enough that a potential boyfriend would have to pass my dad, Ray Kemper’s standards, but also needed the approval of four others who believed their baby sister was precious and beautiful and worthy of someone great. But somehow along the way of pre-adolescence and young adulthood, my image of self and their image of me didn’t align. I did not see myself as beautiful or worthy. I was the epitome of “late bloomer,” so the Jenny I saw reflected in the mirror was painfully thin, had terrible vision since 3rd grade resulting in the famous “coke bottle” lensed glasses, complete with 2 front teeth that overlapped. Hence the adage, “she could eat an apple through a chained-link fence.” Are you getting the complete visual? I share this with you only to express that I was NOT of the popular crowd. I was always the one looking to be accepted, wanting to fit in with the cool kids. I was that ugly duckling who was very insecure about my appearance. Coming from this mindset, I can only say that seeking others approval and acceptance became an idol of mine.
It amazes me when we, particularly as women, look at other women and envy them or believe they have it all together. Or we secretly wish we had whatever it is that they have that we think we lack. But let me tell you the beauty of sharing our stories: the chains of comparison and shame begin to drop as we see one another as we truly are – really no different because we all are sinners saved by grace. We all carry baggage or lies that the deceiver has convinced us of regarding our identities.
One particular evening during this “Redeemed” bible study, I shared some of the secret shame that tried to define me, and I was broken in a most beautiful way. My sisters in Christ embraced me, loved me and acknowledged me! I was not alone in my deeply rooted feelings of insecurity and shame. The enemy loves to keep us trapped in that isolation because he knows he has a hold on us. But Christ says, “Bring it into My light. Let Me show you who I believe you are. You are My beloved. You are redeemed.”
We each have a personal story that only we can uniquely tell. But I love what Angela Thomas-Pharr shared in regards to this:
“There will be no better story for our lives until our story is lived inside the greater story of God. The greater story is not about us. It’s all about Him. He is the Author and the Main Character, and with every turn of the page, from beginning to end, God is the hero… He wants us to sit with Him and learn from Him, so that His story begins to rewrite ours.”
HIS BEAUTIFUL CREATION
I praise God that He is still redeeming me and rewriting my story. I have to continually keep His truth before me so that my identity and self-image reflect Him. Truths like: I am a child of God. I am no longer a slave to sin. I am complete in Christ. I am wonderfully and fearfully made. So, no longer the ugly duckling but His beautiful creation. Then as I recall where I’ve been, who I’ve been, I can attest to what God has done for me and in my life. I can know who I am now and who I am becoming because of His grace and transforming love.
May our stories in all their peaks, valleys, disappointments, failures and triumphs connect to others so ultimately, we point to the Author and Creator of all.