By Jenn Schultz
God's Brave Women - Jenn's Story
It took months to make the phone call. Then a few more months to fill out the simple paperwork.
By the time I actually started counseling, it was about six months past when I had even started considering it. But honestly? Years and years overdue.
I grew up a classic good girl, with parents that brought me to church and a faith community that was basically family.
Yet a low-level, performance-driven anxiety followed me like a shadow. We good girls are still as much a mess as anyone, but quietly so, out of fear.
"We good girls are still as much a mess as anyone, but quietly so, out of fear."
At the same time, there was a sense of not being able to fit in with my peers, leaving me nervous and quiet. There was also a need to make the adults around me happy, because with that came approval and recognition.
Throughout this time, my own image of God was formed. He was good, sure. Loving, in His way. But stern. Demanding. Constantly testing me. Often disappointed in me. Only generous with blessings when I filled my end of the bargain.
And so, I set about the task of performing and keeping up appearances, because that’s what pleased my image of God. I tried to hold it all together, along with my anxiety, failures, sin, questions, and fears. This lasted all the way through various seasons in my life, including many painful failures and disappointments, which prompted more shame and striving.
"I set about the task of performing and keeping up appearances, because that’s what pleased my image of God."
Let’s be clear: the one true God was with me in it all — working on my heart, showing up for me with love and grace time after time. Yet there was so much more to be sorted out with Him.
Something needed to be done. The feeling of “I can’t go on like this” was unwavering. But the fear of dealing with my issues, facing my questions with God and myself, felt even stronger. What if I was just as bad and disappointing and appalling as I always feared I’d be?
One of the bravest things we can do is to stare ourselves down and choose to face our deepest fears and inadequacies with God. Being brave means not settling for lies, but deciding to go deeper and get help to find the truth.
"One of the bravest things we can do is to stare ourselves down and choose to face our deepest fears and inadequacies with God. Being brave means not settling for lies, but deciding to go deeper and get help to find the truth."
Counseling was certainly a slow and sometimes grueling process. Week by week, I’d cringe and stare at my phone, waiting for it to ring at the appointed time. There were lots of tears, road bumps, and sometimes flat-out disbelief to embrace the truth the Scriptures said.
I was met with questions like, “Why are you not allowed to be human?” “Is failure on your name tag?” “What do you do when you can’t fix it?” I wanted to believe, to let go of my fears, but something held me back.
At one point on the journey, as I was driving, a song came on the radio with words about how God lets nothing get between him and us. He knocks down walls and destroys lies.
And suddenly, it all clicked. The God I was struggling to embrace and believe in and surrender my life to was not sitting on the sidelines, bored and waiting for me to figure it out. He was on the other side of the walls I’d built up around myself, eagerly stripping away the barriers in an attempt to get to me.
"The God I was struggling to embrace and believe in and surrender my life to was not sitting on the sidelines... He was on the other side of the walls I’d built up around myself, eagerly stripping away the barriers in an attempt to get to me."
The truth I found in counseling was not what I expected. It was not more shame. Instead, it was grace upon grace. My fears could be met by a God who answered every one. Surrender meant putting my life in the hands of a Savior who was not only capable but all powerful, gracious, and compassionate. My imperfections were safe with a Father who doesn’t love me any more or less based on what I do or don’t do. My value was found in my Maker who was absolutely crazy about me.
"My imperfections were safe with a Father who doesn’t love me any more or less based on what I do or don’t do. My value was found in my Maker who was absolutely crazy about me."
Ephesians 1 became very significant for me around that time, as I re-identified myself in God through Christ:
If you’re struggling to believe in a God who loves you unconditionally, who works for your good and removes your shame, I encourage you to dig deep, and get help from others if you have to. But do the brave work and learn who God truly is.
"Do the brave work and learn who God truly is."
Paul expresses it so well to the church in Ephesus:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Let me be the one to tell you - the fullness of God is real. I experienced it after this transformational time in my life.
Being filled with God comes from knowing Him as He truly is and breaking down any lies or false beliefs that might have built up along the way. It’s not easy work, but it’s essential work. God is right there on the other side, fighting to be united with you, too.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my empowered email tribe.
AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the BRAVE WOMEN BIBLE STUDY! SIGN UP for more info on the study’s release and availability.
Jenn Schultz is a writer and podcaster who loves to share her messy faith journey. She encourages women to ditch shame and striving, and embrace the abundant life God has prepared for us in grace through Jesus.
You can pick up a Bible study on her website What You Make It. Feel free to connect with Jenn on Facebook and Instagram and tune in to her podcast, Called Into Being, every Wednesday. Jenn is a wife and mom who drinks decaf, speaks in scriptures and movie quotes, and usually reads too many books at once.