What a tangled mess

GRAPHIC God's voice louder

Carey Scott is a lovely, vivacious woman who responded graciously when I posted a cry for help in my agent’s Facebook group. I don’t know her well, but I was grateful for all of the encouragement and ideas she’d offered regarding marketing and growing my blog, so I jumped at the chance to get an early copy of her new book. Untangled is about “letting God loosen the knots of insecurity in your life.”

And, really, is there any one of us who isn’t insecure?

OK, I’ll confess. When I struggle, it’s more often with pride than with insecurity. And deep down, I didn’t think this book would really apply to me, but I was happy to read it anyway.

One of the great things about God is that He doesn’t shout to the corners of the earth “You are WRONG!” every time that we are wrong. Thank goodness. Because, like usual, well, I was wrong. And like usual, God gave me the opportunity to see what I needed to understand about myself—and the grace to face it.

In the intro, she says this: “But in my midthirties God’s voice became louder than my brokenness.” And I thought, wow, what a perfect way to say what I’ve learned to be true. Then she shares with complete openness the most vulnerable parts of her story and her inner self, and she walks through the different “I’m not good enough” messages that I think we’ve all experienced—even though our circumstances and situations may be very different, at their core, our doubts and fears are very similar.

As I mentioned, I don’t feel like I struggle much with insecurity. Somehow I’ve always believed the fact that in spite of all of my failings and inadequacies, God wants me. Yes, I’m overweight; no, I don’t care enough to say no to that donut or get up early to go work out. Yes, I know I’ve messed up plenty. But I don’t have the emotional energy to beat myself up for it, so I usually let it go. In many ways, I’ve grasped the message Carey offers to all of us: that the only way to see ourselves is with the generosity and grace that God gives us.

But along the way, I have certainly had my moments. She writes,

“[these lies about not measuring up] become bricks in the wall we build around our hearts to keep people from seeing the real us—the us we’re certain isn’t good enough… If you’re breathing air today, you have walls. We all do. We’re all guilty of partitioning off our hearts so we don’t get hurt anymore. Walls shouldn’t be confused with boundaries, because establishing healthy limits with toxic people and beliefs is smart. Boundaries are proactive, but walls are protective. Boundaries help us live within community, but walls keep us from it. Boundaries are put in place for healing, while walls are built to hide our hurting. Walls are boundaries gone bad, and their bricks are made from feelings of rejection and inadequacy. But that’s not how God wants us to live.”

In Praying Upside Down, I wrote about the walls I built to protect myself when Mom died. I still find myself building walls to keep from risking being hurt. I struggle with jealousy and comparison, particularly since entering the publishing world—how many people read my post? Clicked Like? Retweeted? Why does she have so many more subscribers than I do? How can I get a post to go viral like that one of hers? Why is she so popular? It’s not fair…

The voiceover track in my mind sounds like that of a whiny teenager.

And I thought I wasn’t insecure.

Recently, I’ve been going back and forth between reading Untangled and part of a Bible study called Seamless by Angie Smith, and I’ve been thinking a lot about shame. About the Garden of Eden, and the way that Satan planted doubt in Eve’s mind. I’ve always hated that story—it doesn’t seem fair to me that there should be eternal consequences for mankind forevermore, banished from Eden and a close walk with God, simply because one couple messed up. It doesn’t seem right that women should always suffer with pain and childbirth because of their actions. Before long, I started wandering down a thorny theological path—if God is perfect, why did He make an imperfect creation? Why does He require a method for mankind to be reconciled to Him? If He’s God, why can’t He change the rules?

As I read and studied, I was troubled by the power these thoughts had, by the tumultuous feeling of these questions battering my faith. And then I understood. When the serpent planted that doubt eons ago, he was introducing shame. Eve felt shame because she didn’t know something she thought she should. Because she’d obeyed when maybe she didn’t have to. I think she felt stupid. Ignorant. Weak. She bought into his lies that maybe she wasn’t enough—that maybe she could be more, more even than God Himself. And so she grabbed an apple. The big revelation for me was this: Those words of shame that Satan hissed that day in the garden have never stopped rippling across the ages, inhabiting generation after generation. How do I know? My own thoughts were proof that I bought into the same lies that Eve did. Just like Eve, I started questioning God—who He was, and whether He had the right to be God and make the rules.

Deep down I know the answers; of course I do. God is God. We can’t be reconciled to Him without a sacrifice because it’s like we’re opposing ends of a magnet. He is holy and perfect, and we are not, and without a supernatural intervention, we cannot come together. Holiness repels imperfection.

And yet. Yet He wants us. Yet He loves us. Yet He welcomes us in, allows us to nestle safely under His wing, warmed by His love, transformed by His power. As Carey wrote:

Even when you mess up, he sees who you are instead of what you’ve done. Those seasons where you made bad choice after bad choice mixed with bad choice (yeah, that one) didn’t scare him off. His perfect love for you never wavered. And even better, there is nothing you can do, more or less, to alter that truth in any way.

She’s right. Absolutely right. And I bet that you have struggled with some of the same feelings of self-worth described in her book. You don’t feel like you measure up against that supermom. In your marriage. In your career. In your friendships. In your gifts and in how they’re received. You wonder if you’ve done enough for your kids and how they will measure up against others. If your husband truly still finds you attractive. If you’d be prettier, or more desirable, or more successful if you could just lose that weight. If you will make enough money for the things you want. If someone else could do it—whatever it is—better.

You wonder if you’re enough.

The short answer: yes, you are. For the slightly longer answer, pick up a copy of Untangled. And while you’re at it, grab one for every other woman in your life, too.

I realize this review is all over the place, rambling right along with my thoughts, tumbling around as God unknots the insecurities that tangle me up. Right now, things may be a convoluted mess. But there is One who can sort out the string. Release the hold of the knots. Straighten out the fabric of which I am made. I’m trusting Him to do His thing with me. Again and again, always. And I know He will do the same for you. I think God has great plans for this book—because He has great plans for you. And reading this book will set you well along the way to discovering all that you are. Not who you will someday be, but who you already are: An amazing, unique woman, already adored, and infinitely lovable.

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For more quotes, a free download of the first chapter, and many other goodies, visit the Untangled Women website.

2 Responses to “What a tangled mess”

  1. irena says:

    What a beautiful post and reminder.
    Okay, not really a “reminder”; more like a “revelation”. Now if I can just keep convincing myself. The words I hear inside are “fat, ugly, disgusting, selfish, failure, worthless, incapable.”:
    It’s so hard to believe we are good enough when we are constantly told that we don’t measure up. I need to realize that the units of measurement truly being used are not man-made measurements, but the measuring cup of God’s grace, which of course is unlimited, overflowing, and never-ending.
    I am not, nor will I ever be, “good enough”. But God is.

    • Yes, those are words many of us hear. We let those ugly words drown out the ones of our God: Beloved. Beautiful. Child. Precious. Mine. If only we could quiet those voices to hear what HE thinks of us.

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