Writing this series has been incredibly challenging. Here I am, trying to empower people to seek truth, freedom, and renewal in their lives and wardrobe; yet, I am in need of these same revelations.
In my attempt to encourage readers to let go of what people think; there are still days I hold on. As I seek to encourage a healthy thought life; I am fighting every day to speak truth into my own mind. While I encourage readers to break out of their comfort zone, redefine boundaries, and reach into new waters of freedom; I think of all the times (even most recently) I’ve lived in immense captivity.
Writing before I’ve shared parts of my story, short summaries of sermons I’ve enjoyed, and revelations I’ve had in my own seasons; but for these pieces, I wanted to do something different. This blog series is meant for something more.
Within the words, I write I want to share what God says regarding these topics. Not because they’re easy to write, due to my own liking of them, nor for the reason, I think they’ll attract an audience. Instead, I write because I believe I’m called.
The ideas I have, the beliefs I hold, and the concepts I share are imperfect- incomplete- and perhaps not even relevant. Still, I believe there’s power to be found between the lines. I believe God can speak through me and that He has placed this on my heart for a time such as this. For that reason – I am grateful, excited, and deeply honored to make this attempt.
My hope is that these words become real to you; that they help, inspire, encourage, and bring light to you. I pray that they break through to you, and replace any insecurity in your life with beauty, kindness, and hope.
As we dive in together to discover what God has, may our efforts be blessed. May the search for truth, freedom, as renewal not stop here. May this act as a small spark that starts a great fire within us. May it warm us in every season to come.
Truth: Real, genuine, authentic, sincere, and not deceitful. To hold honesty, integrity; to be in line with reality. Uncompromised belief, immovable standards
Truth is a hard place to start. In a world filled with so many voices; it’s nearly impossible to know what’s true anymore. How do we line ourselves up with reality when we’re not even sure what is “true” in the first place. Every source stands for something different and speaks their “truth” over us whether we like it or not. Moving standards and unreachable heights fester into the frustration of us not knowing what to do, how to do it, or why. From there, it’s easy to speak over our lives incapability, insecurity, indecisiveness, and blame.
One of the most detrimental things I myself do is play with negativity for too long. I internally decide that I dislike a characteristic about myself (or another person), and eventually, it’s all I can focus on. In different seasons I jump to the conclusion that I am stuck or in a place without meaning, to soon lose sight of the greater purpose within my process.
I want to propose that no matter what our previous beliefs and experiences say, we have the choice to find goodness in all situations by simply shifting the way we think. For as we speak positivity over ourselves, others, and the present moment- we have the ability to control our thought life and end up on top within other parts of our life too.
As we point out the flaws in our thought life and take intentional steps in renewing our minds, Jesus will meet us in providing new strength and changing our perspectives.
Break the Victim Mentality
The worst place we can place ourselves is in the position of a victim. For when we view ourselves as inferior to others, we give up the authority we have over ourselves to be victorious. If we constantly blame our “lower rank” on the decision or character of another person, we need a reality check. No one on the outside can define your value – except for you, and if you allow them to, it will only continue to produce instability within your own identity.
On the other hand, if people in your life feel entitled to defining your worth, that’s something they need to recognize in their own journeys, as much as it needs denial in yours. It is in our control who we allow having a voice in our hearts, and whose words we allow to fall outside the front door.
So, when we take feelings of not being loved, cared for, or needed enough and place that responsibility on everyone but ourselves; we need to change our perspective. That starts, with changing our minds.
Claiming in your thought life that you have the ability to make decisions, and enforce obedience in your own life in a step into a victor’s mentality.
We aren’t fighting against people who make us feel crappy or needing to control how people view us. Instead, we internally need to view our own lives in a light that says “I am victorious. I am beautiful, worthy, cared for, loved, and capable of controlling my own thoughts, emotions, and reactions.”
It is always uncomfortable to break out of old thought patterns. If you’ve struggled with worrying about what other people think, it can feel incredibly unusual to let that go. But, it’s only going to get harder the longer you do it, so break out now! If you’re used to self-hatred, or perhaps the opposite-pride, it’s going to be uncomfy thinking humbly of yourself (“Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less”), but totally worth it.
Whatever your game plan may be in order to shift your thoughts from negative to positive, and your position from pauper to prince/princess; it should be outside your comfort zone. New habits feel weird, but choosing to press into the discomfort of change will be so worth it in the long run.
Investigate the Root
Why is it that you think the way you do? Is your habit caused by a past relationship, experience, or habit that’s stuck with you for too long? The deeper we can get in digging up negativity in our lives, the more understanding we can have of ourselves, causing proactivity towards the future.
God can so clearly reveal to us where the roots are. Spend time in prayer seeking God in why you view particular situations or people in a certain way. Then, seek out what He thinks, and commit to taking that view until it becomes more real to you.
Sit down and seek out even one thought you have throughout the day that isn’t helping you or others. Start right there by altering it in a way that is beneficial. Focus on that small piece and don’t allow room for compromise. It could be telling yourself you are beautifully and wonderfully made the second you begin to self-hate. Perhaps it’s claiming tasks that you once saw as “difficult” as still difficult, but following it with saying you’re capable of that take. In work that you view as pointless, declare it as valuable in your mind.
If self-control towards your thoughts is too great of a task, don’t be discouraged. Make the change in something smaller. It could be committing to 30 minutes less of social media a day, reading a good book before bed, cooking one meal for yourself daily, or sending an encouraging message to a friend every week. These are all choices we get to make that are tangible! The process of realizing your ability to make these will help you step into breaking bigger habits, such as negative thought life.
Keep Goals Simple
We don’t need to stand in the mirror for an hour and recite an essay about how great we are. It’s not necessary to listen to five encouraging podcasts a day or remove every person from our lives who tend to be negative. Making realistic boundaries that are simple is key to long-term success. It truly is the small, consistent, care-filled (and realistic) things we practice in our day to day life that shows stable progress over time.
I have recently enjoyed setting three “escape thoughts (call them prayers if you may)” that I recite in times of mental drowning. They claim what the fear/worry/negative emotion that repeatedly clouds my mind is, yes. Then following, a counter clause which fights for positivity. For example, if I’m in a season of uncertainty regarding my next step I may speak over myself: “Yes, I am unsure what’s next; but I trust that the right time will come; and when it does, all this will be worth the wait.” Doesn’t hurt to also add other phrases such as, “This is a time of growth. I am being prepared for my next season. May I cherish these growing pains. Have faith in the process. There is value in each and every moment”
At the end of the day, it’s astonishing to be free from the bondage negative thoughts bring: and you are worth that freedom. Even if you’re starting small and keeping it simple, this is a valuable practice to implement in your life. Plus, with time, it will become only more natural.
No matter how weak you feel, you still have the power to change your mind and in return to change your life. If you are seeking that life change, I just want you to know that you are worth it.
Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)”
1 Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Freedom: When you know you can, but you don’t have to; it’s not the rule that stops you, but the choice to follow set parameters that will keep you safe.
You roll out of bed in the morning and head straight for your closet. Another morning of “what to wear.” Your first hope is to look cute, with also taking into consideration your agenda for the day. Yet, after a few indecisive moments, insecurity seeps in. You begin to worry of what your body looks like, what’s in style, what you haven’t worn in a while (what if someone sees you in the same shirt?), and what others may think of you.
An hour and a half later your wardrobe is on the floor as frustration comes over you like a flood. “Nothing looks good on me, all my clothes suck, and why do I even try.” (I’ve been in this place a countless number of times). From too flashy to not flashy enough. One outfit is perfectly revealing if you run into “you know who,” but risky if you walk into someone else. After many doubts and concerns, the lasting question is: Why do we even care about what people think in regards to what we wear? Does what we wear even matter? Should we give in or give up when it comes to being “fashionable”?
Let’s start with identity. For when we know who we are, we know that our identity does not lie solely in what we wear anyways. Our individual style is a beautiful art in which we can express who we are, what we love, and the creativity within us; but it should not define us. When it does, simple tasks such as getting dressed become as overwhelming as the scenario above.
So, how do we escape the frustration of laying too much weight on our outer appearance?
Let it Go
How do we release ourselves from the expectations of others? What do we need to let go of first? What do we need to give?
I have learned that sometimes (perhaps even most) we just need to let go of any rules, regulations, and expectations that are holding us in bondage. If you have moments where you’re heart burns with desire… but then it’s put out solely by holding on to an outside influence too tight, I encourage you to seek a breakthrough.
It may start with publishing your personal writing, sharing a dream with your family, posting what you actually want to on social media, wearing an exotic piece of clothing, taking a break from school, a job, or relationship (especially if causes you to be bound or unhappy), just take a chance!
Still, there are boundaries that keep us safe, but also those that keep us living in fear. Meditate on or discuss with a loved one what it is that holds you back from freedom, and come against that in breaking perfectionism in your life.
Is it fear of man, fear of failure, or a negative experience in the past that haunts you? Love, let it go.
Focus on Someone Else
“While my journey from severe depression and amidst mental health challenges has been multifaceted, one thing I have learned is this: The more I try to fix myself, the more captive I become. However, the more I rest in my intrinsic value and worth, the more freedom I experience. Additionally, the more I forget myself, the more wide-awake I am to the people and experiences around me.”
“I’ve discovered the further I take a genuine interest in other people, the more secure I am with who I am. One beauty secret is this: You will become more beautiful in one day by loving other people than you will in one year by trying to get other people to love you. I now believe in the splendidness and freedom of self-forgetfulness.”
-Allie Marie Smith
Be Aware of Your Influencers
“If you’re concerned with understanding people around you and becoming a better, more confident, more caring person, be careful to not absorb feedback from just anyone. It can be difficult to have a full perspective of yourself from your own point of view, so this is when character feedback becomes important. Think about whose opinions you value: your spouse, your best friend, your parents; your boss, employee, or co-worker; mentors, pastors, or coaches. Whoever it is, determine who are the people who can best speak into your life and help give you direction. ”
Whose negative opinions are you weighing over the positive ones? It is so important to have honest people in our lives that give us honest feedback.
Take criticism from those who know you and want to help you. Honestly, without a relationship, we may not know if they do. Therefore, I believe it’s the people we are in a healthy relationship in with that should impact our decisions first and foremost. That is, after God. The opinions of old classmates, people we haven’t talked to in years, or strangers that we follow on social media shouldn’t be the ones we look to in time of need. To be influenced by so many people is overwhelming, can be detrimental in personal decision making, and may just be an overall waste of thought and time.
This idea may also propose that our closest friends should hold the character, morals, and lifestyle of one which we hope to be influenced by. Another thought to ponder.
Wear What You Love
When we look at our wardrobe as a whole, there are usually pieces we don’t even like, others we haven’t worn in ages; then there are pieces we can’t get enough of, and ones we’d buy the same of again. To add on, there’s usually even more than land in between.
I started making serious progress in the way I spent money, got dressed, and organized my wardrobe when I began to minimize my pieces by – keeping, wearing, and buying only clothes and accessories that I love. For someone like me, I know there’s a tendency to “love” a lot of items, so I took it one step further to consider functionality. What clothes are actually adding value to my life? Do they express who I am and what I value?
That may seem to be overkill to you- but really what’s the point of investing in anything that doesn’t add value to our lives or the lives of others? We may be quick to purchase something that is “in style,” but do we know ourselves well enough to discern whether or not we will actually wear it… and personally, love it.
This is another practice that starts small, yet eventually leads us to simplify our lives, understanding our identity, and standing strong in who we are. Why? Because we are seeking purpose in the aspects of our lives that were designed to be influential in the first place. How you dress is influential, and the first person it influences should be yourself. Then, the world too can benefit greatly from seeing who you are.
Give Yourself Time
We often jump into ‘discovery mode’ believing that results will remain the same. Yet, isn’t the best part of discovery is just that- the exploration into something new. When we step into newness we must accept that it isn’t going to look, smell, feel, or sound like before. The temptation to compare our present to the past continues. Grasping on to how things once were, how a relationship ended before, or how a past scenario went; we place ourselves in God’s position, “knowing” what is going to come next. Regardless, we are blind to what the future holds and what results are going to come from new endeavors.
If we are going to take the step into finding God, ourselves, our style, and what works best for our life; we gotta remember that not everything is going to work. And, when they do, they probably will not start working right away. So my friend, give yourself time. This journey is a process.
Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Renewal: to make like new: RESTORE to freshness, revive, rebuild, resume, restore, repeat
New is exciting. I witness over and over again in my life the excitement of a new beginning. Yet, no matter how much I desire change, I often feel stuck in the same old routines. “I’m the same old me, with the same old goals, relationships, job, struggles, and hobbies.”
I urge for enhancement in position without enduring the process necessary. And if that enrichment doesn’t happen fast enough, then it’s off to the next. (talk about impatience!)
The need to experience the newness of change disturbs my present commitments as it becomes more important to “keep up” and “keep moving” than it is to “hold on” and “press in.”
I propose that this type of approach is caused by our present society driven by “instant gratification,” and it’s stripping value from the power of wait. For me, it’s also a root leading to constant anxiety about my future.
So, when we arrive in the stir-motion of “I want this and I want it now,” we may only need to declare the inaccuracy of “the grass is greener on the other side,” and break out of the box we’ve put ourselves in. I love the quote “the grass is greener where you water it.”
The box is built by the predetermined boundaries, beliefs, fears and the doubts that keep people out, us in, and the world small. It’s the walls in our lives that hold us in the captivity of hopelessness, which eventually holds us back from all we can become. Such a box is a place where we sit alone and let bad experiences eat away at our ambition.
Being quick to believe a negative situation has no way of changing, that something we’ve been given to us has no sense of value, or restraining our future by claiming that the past will always define us, will quickly rot away the beautiful potential within us that we have the right to. When we become trapped in the box of negative thinking, we give that right away.
There’s a great chance we’ll also get stuck by remaining over-fastened on something, someone, or even a place: leaving no room for adjustment. These times are amplified by conclusions such as “ if this doesn’t work this exact way, it can’t work at all; and if it doesn’t work at all, there’s no chance of another opportunity like this coming.” Now, we have placed ourselves back in the box, away from the hope for miracles, good stories, and new beginnings.
As our expectations, thoughts, and practices remain old, so do we. For the predetermined belief that something (or someone) is incapable, unchanging, or worthless instantly devalues any potential placed within that person, place, or thing but God to become great. Seriously, the worst of the worst still has room for redemption into new… no matter how broken or old.
Aim for Excellence
Despite what season we find ourselves in, there’s always situations, relationships, projects, and so on, that we could work better at. Even in our own self-care, hobbies, and skills; there’s always room for improvements along with the potential for excellence. This has been challenging for me in seasons that I’m not doing exactly what I love. The flaw is that it’s my choice whether or not to love what I’m doing. Plus, I always end up enjoying the work I do when I complete it with excellence. That for me means no shortcuts. It means doing it the best to my ability and completing it in the time I’m given. This can look like doing a thorough job on a task given to you at work or loving well in a friendship; practicing forgiveness, authenticity, vulnerability, and integrity with the people already placed in your life.
Gain New Perspective
There comes a time that you just gotta lock down and love yourself; as well as open your mind to more than you already know. Do whatever you can to gain new perspective; it will aid you in turning old pain into new energy- hopeless into motivation.
Do what you can to see your story in a new light. From there, you can broaden that blaze in other areas of your life.
I think it’s incredibly important to know how you process and put that to use. For me, I am a verbal processor, so if I need a new perspective I must talk it through with another person. Perhaps it’s better for you to write, challenge yourself physically, create a piece of art, listen to music, or spend alone time with God. Make space in your days and weeks to get out, meet with friends, practice self-love, and pursue travel.
The first step to finding renewal may simply be going something new, even for a day; and that’s up to you.
Do Your Best First
A powerful place to start it by doing the best you can…. with what you’ve already got. It’s unreal what can happen when we utilize the objects/relationships/gifts laying right out in front of us. Open your eyes, get creative, practice gratefulness. Don’t trade in who you OR what you already have, for what is “new” “cool” or “in.” Instead, live a life of trend by being who you are, expressing what you’ve been through, pouring into positive relationships, practicing mindfulness, and work towards your dreams one day at a time.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, but remember the small changes we can make to arrive at a new place. If your best is to put two dollars aside a day to go eat lunch out of town on the weekend- do it. If it’s putting one hour aside to invest in someone besides yourself, even if it’s for your own well-being too- schedule it. We are beyond blessed to be able to make these commitments for ourselves and in the process better our longevity of living better, loving well, and reinstating renewal.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
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I believe with my whole being that there is truth, freedom, and renewal waiting for us all. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you’re from, or how people see you; you have been gifted with potential deeper than understanding. I believe no matter how empty you feel right now, there’s a fullness offered to you beyond comprehension. No matter how dead, dark, hopeless, pointless, or reckless your life may seem, there is a light at the end of your tunnel.
This isn’t a scheme to get you involved in a particular religion, organization, or cause. I’m not trying to talk you into believing what I believe. This is not a bribe, but it is also not a joke.
This is real, its raw, it’s relevant, and it’s life changing.
So, if you have never accepted Jesus into your life, He can renew and redeem your heart, your mind, your work, your family, your relationships, your perspective, your past-present-and future unlike any blog, person or practice can.
The best part is we don’t have to measure up to anything to follow Him. There are no rules, regulations, expectations, bondage, or barriers in choosing Christ; instead truth, freedom, renewal, blessing, and life.
He is solely the one that has helped me execute all that I’ve written in here and more. My biggest dream is for you to know that power and love too.
It as simple as asking Jesus right now into your heart. As I affirmed before, you are worthy of a full and abundant life, and I believe this is the new beginning you’ve been waiting for.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and is justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Haley Canter, IG: @haley.canter
Hannah Hughes, IG: @thehannahhughes
Kayley Dueck, IG: @kdimages
Julia Fuhler, IG: @julia.fuhler
Selah Neuman, IG: @selahneumann
Amber Martin, IG: @ aletheia_rose55
Written & Designed by:
Felicia Roybal, IG: @feliciaroybal