Friday, July 12, 2013

You Are Enough!

by Rev. Laura Barclay

I had the fortune of spending July 4th weekend at a house party with some dear friends and setting off fireworks in the street like a kid. These friends have a 2 year-old daughter, Lily, who is sweet, agreeable, loving, and confident. Lily got her face painted like a butterfly, and when she toddled around and smiled, we all said, "Oh my gosh, you are so cute!"

She looked up at all of us, grinned even bigger and said, "I know!"

I was struck by the beauty of this statement in a world where women (and an increasing amount of men) are told by every form of media they aren't pretty enough, thin enough, strong enough, fit enough, healthy enough or give enough time to their partners, their workplaces, and their kids. The covers of magazines demand we lose "5, 10, 15 pounds now for swimsuit season!" and become "bikini ready."

This child, who is dearly loved by her parents, extended family and friends, knows that she is enough. I worry that her, and other little girls like her, will lose that confidence as they get older and tall enough to see the magazine covers and perceptive enough to notice that most models and many actresses are dangerously skinny.

In Apostle Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he states that is proud of the community for their hopeful outlook and expresses sadness at being away from this community. Toward the end of his letter, Paul asks them to continue to "encourage one another and build up each other" (1 Thess. 5:11 NRSV).

This is a fantastic piece of advise for us to follow. If we proclaim to be Christ-followers in a society that can be very shallow, how can we build one another up to be strong against the cultural forces that constantly tell us we aren't good enough?

Consider the following ways to build one another (and yourself) up:

1) Tell your friends and family that you love them regularly.

2) Tell others what you like about them on a regular basis--is it their thoughtfulness, presence, skill, compassion, etc?

3) Drop e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, texts or an old-fashioned hand-written postcard or letter to tell someone you love them and are thinking about them! Think about how you feel when you receive a message from a friend and pay it forward!

4) Get rid of the scales and encourage others to do this. Are you eating healthy and exercising? If the answer is yes, then great! Don't measure your worth by a number but by how healthy you feel. If the answer is no, think about ways you can be healthy with your friends that would build one another up, like taking Zumba or Yoga classes together, going on walks after work in groups, rotating cooking healthy meals for one another, or a weekend hiking trip.

5) Make a list of all that you are grateful for at the end of each day. This will end the day on a positive note, and lessen your anxieties. Did any person(s) show up on that list? Then see #3 and let them know!

I hope these tips encourage you to lean into your identity as a beloved child of God and encourage you to help others to do the same!

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