As promised, here’s the second blog from She Speaks 2016. It is the speech I gave in my peer-critiqued speaker group, but really, it’s a glimpse of the work God has been doing in my heart, the back story to the idol I left behind in the prayer room (see The Unforgettable Beauty of Brokenness). Oh how I hope and pray that you see the Lord’s tenderness and faithfulness to me in my pain and my ugly truth and that somehow you are drawn closer to Him, believe bigger in Him and live freer for Him!
BarbieTM sure has the good life, doesn’t she? The beauty, the outfits, the shoes; dream car, dream house, dream job. Ken! She’s got it all, and if you look at her face: she’s permanently happy!
As a young mom, I couldn’t stand Barbie! Because of everything I felt her ideal had stolen from me as a young girl and as a woman, I banned her from our home.
I did eventually face the reality that she’s just a toy, and my third daughter was allowed to play with Barbies. In fact, the Lord’s brought me so far that when my oldest daughter got married last summer, I gave her the bride Barbie and all the Disney® princess movies I had banned along with Barbie so she could enter marriage a “complete American woman.” I also promised to cover any therapy she might need from being the daughter who lived through all my learning experiences!
We laugh about it now, but listen: I spent my lifetime pursuing the “good life” Barbie represents.
Oh I love Jesus, and I long for Him to be the only thing that satisfies my soul, but I find myself in the struggle Paul describes in Romans 7:15-20, where he talks about not doing the good he wants to do while doing the very things he hates! Starting in verse 18, he says:
…to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (verses 18-20).
Most of us can probably relate. This battle between our sinful flesh and our new spirit in Christ is real! Maybe it’s with the “biggies” like alcoholism, drugs or sex. Or maybe it’s with the more “acceptable sins” like gluttony, gossip or worry.
For me, one of my greatest battles has been with food and body image. At the age of 15, I started binging and purging, starving and compulsively exercising. In college, my bulimia progressed unchecked, and a fainting incident one morning in the shower while home alone in my apartment scared me enough to stop all forms of purging. But the thought-processes that fueled this life-dominating sin continued to this day, which is why I found myself reading Marie Notcheva’s book called Redeemed from the Pit.
In it, she defines an idol as:
An idol is anything you want so bad you’re willing to sin to get it.
The instant I read it, scales fell from my eyes, and this may sound silly, but right then I knew why I hated Barbie! She embodies the idol of the perfectly beautiful woman that I set up in my heart at a very young age and spent a lifetime sinning to become so I could worship the image in the mirror!
And that’s not all. As I talked with the Lord about what to do next, my head knew the answer was to repent and destroy her, but the problem is – I loved her! I loved what I thought she would do for me.
How’s that for the ugly truth?!?!
Well, I’m here to tell you: even the ugly truth can set us free when it leads us to God’s truth! So I turned to God and His word to learn everything I could about destroying idols. That’s when I encountered Jeremiah 2:5, where the Lord tells Jeremiah to confront the Israelites, saying:
What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters?
I knew the Lord was asking the question of me:
Shauna, what injustice had you found in Me?
And He brought to mind middle school, when the girls who were tall, thin, busty and beautiful were popular and pursued by all the hot guys. I was short, plump and frumpy. In my eyes, no one wanted me. When God didn’t make me like them, I judged Him unjust. I was convinced I knew better than God what I should look like to be happy and loved. Since He wouldn’t do it for me, I’d figure out my own way to become like the girls I envied!
This wrong thinking is the sin Paul talks about in Romans – the sin that dwells in me! It is the root of why I have done what I willed not to do!
But here’s the good news: we can bring our ugly truth to God without condemnation, as Paul goes on to say in Romans 8:1! We can confess our wrong thinking and bring it to Him to be changed, which is exactly what the word repentance means!
And as God’s truth becomes our truth, we learn to live the only true good life, and that’s the God life –
convinced and changed by His truth,
free from life-dominating sins,
in absolute surrender to Him and His ways.
This, my friends, is the God life. And it’s good! There’s not a Barbie for it, but there is a Savior.
Together, let’s chase after the God life by chasing after Jesus every day!
If you’d like to learn more about the God life versus the good life, check out my new Bible study, 30 Days to Living the God Life not Just the Good Life at amazon.com.