Tag Archives: Peace

finding #peace with my hair: transformational thoughts based on God’s truth

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” Psalm 139.14

Psalm 139 is by far one of my most favorite Psalms and one of the most convicting.

You see, growing up, I hated my hair (among other things, but let’s start there). It was the bane of my existence.

Red.

Auburn.

It was wild and there were many days I feared it would never be tamed.

Blessed with natural volume, wave and curl…

Cursed with frizz, no thanks to humid Minnesota summers. I didn’t like summer either, but that’s beside the point.

My hair set me apart. It made me different.

And because I was different, I didn’t fit in.

I hated it and cursed it, every day.

Learning to genuinely like yourself is possible. Learning to have peace with yourself is possible.

In fact, the best foundation for changing something you don’t like about your body is accomplished when you learn to like yourself first. I’m not talking about just loving yourself. I’m talking about liking yourself.

Most of us get it backwards. We think, “If I can only change this one thing about my body/personality/looks/etc., then I will finally feel good about myself.” The problem with that is, even after you’ve lost the weight, get the nose job, get breast implants or liposuction, etc… the body hate does not go away. You move from that focal point to another and obsess over something else.

But how do we journey from body-hate to body-acceptance?

You first need to recognize the destructive power disliking your bodies has on your life.

Ask yourself questions like: “Do I avoid certain activities I am ashamed of my body/my hair/my face/etc.?” Think about what you spend on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, personal trainers, diet plans, exercise equipment, etc. Are you afraid to go out in public without makeup? How many diets have you been on in the last year?

The solution isn’t found in fixing your body. It is found in fixing your mind.

“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12.2a

Hollywood and the fashion industry spin lies about what we should look like, how we should dress, act, etc., but they’re wrong.

That redheaded, freckle-covered girl from childhood was surrounded by lies and her mind was filled with thoughts like:

American Girl didn’t have a redheaded doll so that must mean that I’m not normal.

No one in my class has curly, red hair. I’m a freak.

My teacher doesn’t know what to do with my differences. Why?

And those lies eventually wormed their way into my heart to the point that I believed them. I couldn’t wait until I was a teenager and could make decisions on my own about maybe dying my hair a different color or maybe even straighten it.

But, in the fall of 1996, God used an illness and the events that followed to change the way I saw myself.

but come the fall of 1996, God used an illness and the events that followed to change the way I saw my hair.

Prior to Halloween, the last of which I would be allowed to go trick-or-treating, I became ill with flu-like symptoms. Those symptoms lasted the better part of 14 days. The doctors couldn’t diagnose what was wrong. Dehydration set in and I understood the meaning of real thirst for the first time. At one point, I couldn’t muster up the strength to move from the recliner I’d been “chained” to during that time and I really thought I wouldn’t live to see the next day.  

Miraculously, I woke up one Saturday feeling better and very hungry. I ravaged an entire bag of Nacho Cheesier Doritos and felt no shame. I was twelve.

But it was the events that followed that illness (which they’ve now copped up to salmonella poisoning) that God used to give my adolescent self a huge wake-up call.

I had lost over 40 lbs. during my bout with that illness, leaving me incredibly weak, and since my body had been fighting that illness, my immune system didn’t know what to do with itself once I got better and, in turn, attacked my hair…much like chemo does to a cancer patient. I lost all of it.

Gone

As an adolescent walking around with a shaved head and wearing baseball caps because my parents couldn’t afford a nice wig, I was angry with God; I cried out him: Why?!

With the passing months, my hair slowly grew back – a shade darker and a lot more curlier.

Hello afro!

And I hated it even more than I did prior to my illness.

I was met with silence during many of my why-moments, but there was one particular Saturday afternoon that I remember his still voice entering the quiet corners of my heart:

I gave you your hair, didn’t I?

Yes…

Doesn’t it keep you warm during the long winter months in Minnesota?

Yes, but…

Every good and perfect gift comes from me, Anita…remember that. I blessed you with this hair, the color and the curl…all of it, because I love you. So much. I have set you apart for myself. Before I formed you in the womb, before you were even born, I set you apart. You were never meant to look like anyone else. That was never my intention. You have been called by grace for so much more…

He gently nudged my heart with the truth and began to transform the way I saw myself.

No matter what the kids whispered at school…

No matter what the models on TV proclaimed…

I chose to not let those words bring me down. I knew what God thought of me. That was all that mattered.

God says that you can have peace in your soul no matter what your body, or your hair, looks like.

We need to choose to let his truth sink in and confront the lies that bombard us every day and once your mind is focused on his truth, your feelings about your body, your hair, your face, will change.

The day God shined his light on the lies I had believed, I slowly began to find and embrace my beautiful in when it came to my hair. It’s what I like and love most about the physical attributes I was given today.

And when it comes to the things I struggle with about myself now, I trust that God, in his goodness and in his timing, I will come to a place where I will find peace just as I did with my hair. I’ll find my beautiful and I will embrace it in such a way that it will ultimately give him glory.

© Anita J. Brands. 2014. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

Week 52: Facing the Future

It’s here.

Four more days.

It’s finally here.

And…

 I. Can’t. Wait.

We gathered together last night to discuss our hopes, fears, anxieties, and all things considering our first pre-launch service for The Vine this coming Sunday…March 11. Prayers that chaos would be at ease (it will exist) and that we would have an expanse of peace covering us were lifted up; prayers that the hearts of those in St. Louis Park and the surrounding area would be opened and that they would come if God would allow it; prayers that no matter the number that day that His Spirit would still be present…and that it would move…were spoken.

Personally, I’m excited. Two years ago, Pastor Rick asked me if I would join them in planting a church in Minneapolis. This was long before the church had a name; long before any vision had been put in place; long before any specifics had been given. I was at a point in my life where I was ready to move on. I felt that I had nearly outgrown my role at church and I not only physically wanted more, I spiritually wanted more.

When I graduated from college, moved to Sioux Falls and landed a job I wasn’t sure I would like, I had decided that I would give Him three years there. My roots had been planted in Brookings, so not planting many in Sioux Falls was easy. I had just hit my two year mark when Rick placed that question on the table. The decision was easy. I knew that I would be leaving…I was just waiting for God to open a door (or that window) to let in a little fresh air.

And there it was.

The fresh air…streaming down from Minneapolis…and I didn’t even need to fret over where God would place me next when it came to His body of believers. He had given me a church home. He had given me a new purpose. Not only am I “just the keyboard player,” I am so much more. He’s provided a place on the leadership team (which is scary because it comes with more expectations) and with hospitality, encouragement and mercy being the top three gifts He’s given me, I’m sure He’ll put them to good use, but until we’ve been blessed with those who can handle what I’m not gifted with, I’ll be wearing multiple hats.

I’m okay with that.

It will be uncomfortable. It will be nerve-racking. It will be challenging.

I expect to grow immensely as I’m challenged in all aspects of my life the foreseable future.

The God we serve is such a good God. His will is perfect. His timing is perfect. I believe that He will do something magnificent in the Uptown area of Minneapolis and I can’t wait to see what that is…even if it occurs outside the parameters of my lifetime.

The following scriptures have given me so much peace the last two weeks – know that He is good.

Peace I leave with you; peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:25-26

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you are called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Day 22: Peace in a Chaotic World

Peace.

When we think of that word, we tend to picture the scene of shepherds guarding their sheep by night on a hill in the country of Judea, Israel. Suddenly, an angel appears with good news about a baby, born in a manger, then a multitude of angels join in singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.” We hear about it every Christmas: peace on earth. We sing about it. We pray for it. Peace on Earth: an end to wars, an end to bitterness and hostility, an end to fear. We even talk about how nice it would be to have Christmas all year long, so we could always focus on peace and goodwill toward all mankind.

But wars go on. Bitter struggles that have lasted for centuries continue. We find new ways to kill, new things to be afraid of.

In fact, if you were to Google the top stories of 2011, you would find articles on the Japan earthquake, tsunamis, riots around the globe, overthrown governments, the death of dictators, Occupy Wall Street, protests, Steve Jobs, and more.

Just this past week: bombings in Baghdad, families being held hostage by the Taliban, babies gone missing and the payroll tax issue in the US.

I even face it at work – domestic violence, workplace threats, robberies…the list goes on. The Christmas ideal of peace on earth seems to be nothing more than an oasis in the midst of this violent world…maybe even a mirage.

The news headlines are discouraging. The reality of war and hate among nations is too close to home. And it is hard to know what to say to those enduring this season without their loves ones for the first time. Yet, despite all of this, there is still a message ringing through the air: peace on earth.

The scriptures are clear:

For it pleased the Father that in him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on Earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20

He came for this purpose.

For He Himself is our peace. He has made us both one, and has broken down the hostile dividing wall between us. Ephesians 2:14

His goal was sure.

When we think about peace, it’s important to remember that God and Satan have been at war since the beginning of time. As Christians, we have joined God’s forces. We are no longer at war with God. He offers us peace; shalom rather, a peace that fills from within, rather than without. Our physical peace will not be complete until Jesus returns and Satan is defeated or we go home to be with Him.

I believe that the peace Jesus brought brings more than that. Jesus didn’t come to take our problems away. He came to stand with us in the midst of our problems so that we could find  that He is our peace.

As if the angels who met the shepherds long ago were still singing, their message has carried through the ages. Longfellow was right. Tragedies constantly bombard our doorsteps, yet there is a reverberation ringing through the air. If we listen with our hearts and not judge with our eyes or our minds, we can hear it too.

Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor does He sleep…Peace on earth, Peace on earth…The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with Peace on earth , goodwill to men.

With great compassion, God saw the condition of His creation and made a provision for change (John 3:16)

The storms of life do not end on Christmas day. Trials and tribulations are often with us every day of the year.

Christ was born to bring peace to you and to your world. You can choose to be a part of Christ’s peace or choose to use your free will to turn away from Him. God leaves it up to you to decide to live in Christ’s peace…even in the storms of your life. When you open your heart and soul to unwrap Christ’s gift of peace, His peace flows into you.

Peace it not only available. Peace is possible. May you find it, not only this season, but all year long.

May the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16