Facing Our I AM NOT’s // Beauty for Ashes, Part 1


My 4 year old little diva Gigi and I have been having all kinds of conversations about the difference between girls and women lately.  Awhile back she came up to me and said, “Mommy, I’m a girl and you’re a woman and I don’t understand – what’s the difference?”

I decided to give her the PG version, which was a VERY entertaining conversation to have. I did all sorts of age appropriate explaining and by the end of our conversation she said to me, “So women can wear makeup, they can kiss boys that they love, and they get to wear real jewelry instead of just play jewelry?”

This is what she got out of my well-crafted definition. To which I said, “Yes Gigi that’s the definition of a woman.” There are some battles not worth continuing,

Being a woman is a great thing. In fact, If I would have been a part of the decision making process in heaven when God was hardwiring me – I would have voted to be a woman. I love being a woman.

There are also difficulties in being a woman.

There are probably all days when we wish we could go back to being 4 again. Days when we played dress up and danced around and didn’t have a care in the world.

It’s because when we are young our imaginations are unlimited and full.

We believe anything is possible, and when we are young its so much fun to pretend that we are women – we can dress up and play and pretend instead of having to deal with the complexities and pains that come along with actually being a woman.

If you were to ask my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up she would tell you: party planner, dancer, a worship leader, a teacher, a cooker – which is what she calls a chef, the president, a gardener and a mom.

I love seeing how alive she is and filled with hope and wonder and one of my deepest prayers for her is that the hope and wonder never fade. We live in a world that wants to choke out hope and there is a very real enemy that wants to bury the truth and beauty of who we really are.

And when that happens – in big ways and small ways – reality comes crashing in and  the lies we believe about ourselves overtake who God really created us to be and those lies have a way of gaining power and pressure quickly in our lives.

This is not a new problem.

This is not a you problem.

This is a beginning of time problem.

If you remember when Adam and Eve were in the garden at the beginning of time and when they took that apple and bit into it, 3 lies took root. I call them I AM NOT’s:

I AM NOT BEAUTIFUL – They felt shame for the first time. Specifically, shame about their bodies. They covered themselves with fig leaves.

I AM NOT WORTHY – They hid from God. They didn’t want to be seen, so they kept something about themselves in the dark.

I AM NOT TO BLAME – They got defensive when they were asked who told them to eat the fruit. They looked for a scapegoat and blamed each other.

I wonder how many of us have experienced those same lies.

My hunch is that we have all had a few trips around the block with each of these lies. The lies we believe about ourselves go way back to a garden. Unfortunately, due to those lies it doesn’t always feel like we are living in a garden with blooming flowers and joy. In fact, for many of us the lies are much more like a slow death. They’re like a pile of ashes that go with us into our relationships, our work, our thoughts, and our hearts.

If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness and hope, we have to talk about the things that get in the way… especially the ashes.

We of course don’t think of these things as ashes and as things that are in the way, but that’s essentially what they are.

I don’t know about you but often times I find myself thinking about what I don’t have enough of.  It goes all the way down to how I often start my days. So often I feel like I didn’t get enough sleep. I feel like I don’t have enough time. And it can continue on and on. We can spend much of our lives complaining, explaining or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We believe we are inadequate, behind and lacking, and that feeling of scarcity and those lies become the ashes in our lives that we start to believe.

We think ourselves into our I AM NOT’S.

We have internal messages that say much like the garden…

  • I’m not beautiful.
  • I’m not worthy.
  • I’m not to blame – if you knew what I’ve had to go through.

And there’s so many many more…

  • I’m not thin enough.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not successful enough.
  • I’m not accepted.
  • I’m not wanted.
  • I’m not worthy.
  • I’m not needed.
  • I’m not….

These I’M NOT’S are like weights and burdens that keep us from living the lives of love and hope and freedom that God intended for each and every one of us.

These I’M NOT’S are like weights and burdens that keep us from freedom. And God in his loving Kindness knows that we can not lift the weights off ourselves.

He so beautifully says to us in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Every I AM NOT in this passage gets absorbed into the healing and freedom that only comes from the LOVE of God, our GREAT I AM.

But the process happens through us acknowledging and coming face-to-face with our I AM NOT’S.

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