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What would happen if you tried?

Currently, I'm halfway through with the Present Over Perfect study (read more about that here) and it's seriously so good and my group is awesome!! It's actually a difficult study. This isn't lightweight material. If you do it correctly, and by correctly I mean actually do the work and let it affect you,  then it forces you to dig down realllly deep. Like, the internal places you don't normally go to unless provoked by a really good speaker or the Holy Spirit. You know what I'm talking about?

Through Shauna's videos and question prompts, you pinpoint your personal struggle area or "besetting sin." Even though I wasn't surprised at what I determined to be my major problem area, the discussion and work that followed was really revealing. 

My big sin in sloth. 

Gah, I even hate writing it! It's such an unpleasant word unless you imagine a cute little sloth, then it's not so bad....  But back to my point. 


habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.


I get myself in trouble when I take on the attitude of, "Meh. I'd rather not." It comes out in everything from going to the grocery store, to declining leisurely walks with Buddy and Luke, to finishing projects.

It gets me in trouble spiritually because a slothful attitude is kind of the opposite of being a Christ follower. Following Jesus is all action and adventure. Following JJ is "meh. I'd rather not." 

It gets me in trouble with my health because instead of putting forth effort into doing (minimal) exercise, cooking healthy food, and making healthy choices, I say, "not this time" and do whatever is easiest. 

It gets me in trouble financially because I spend money to start something and then never complete it. 

It gets me in trouble with the people in my life because I don't follow through. Not doing what you say you're going to do doesn't make you a good friend to have. 

It gets me in trouble in my marriage because I choose to watch tv or stare at my phone when I could be making memories with my family. I'm very thankful for an extremely graceful husband who is willing to lovingly have hard conversations and encourage me! 

You see my pattern here? It all goes back to a lack of effort. Why? Why don't I want to put effort into things? Maybe on some level, it's because of my size. It's physically easier to sit and do nothing instead of being in low-level pain from activity. Maybe on another level it's because I'm fearful of failing. Whatever the case may be, it's a terrible way to live and I don't like it. 

Luke and I were having a tough conversation the other day. I made the comment, "Some days I win against sloth. Other days I don't. I give into it and say, 'there's no sense in trying because things will never change.' I've been giving in a lot lately." 

That conversation plus the Present Over Perfect study plus the India Trip plus the past two messages at church are doing a real number on me right now. I know it's God pushing me forward. I know I'm capable of making changes and I'm ready to do something about it. 

What is the opposite of sloth? Effort. 

All of this has culminated to asking myself the questions, "what would happen if you tried?" What would happen if you committed to SOMETHING for even just a short period of time? What would happen if you went on a walk every day for a month? What would happen if you tracked the foods that you consumed? What if you actually tracked your calories and worked within a calorie deficit? What would happen??

I don't know! Maybe something awesome! 

So. I'm going to try. I'm going to try to be mindful of my choices. I'm going to try to be that person I want to be. Here's to effort. 

My Talk on Shame

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to share my story at a Womens' Event at my church. My talking theme was Shame. In true blogger fashion, I wrote out my whole talk. I thought I'd share it with you on here.

This is my official follow up to a post I wrote a few months ago. The post I'm referencing is something I wrote and I titled Shame is Not Motivation. In this post I shared a story that brought on years of shame and how God has redeemed a particular story.

After I published that post something happened.

Now, I’m not bragging on my blog or my writing by any means, I’m bragging on God and how he can redeem anything.

That blog post, one I didn’t want to write, was read 10 times more than any other post I’ve written. After I shared that story, I received comments in person, online, and in private messages from people who were deeply affected by that story and sharing with me their own stories of shame.

I hit a nerve when I openly shared my shame story. I pressed my finger on an issue that was affecting people from every walk of life. That response told me something about people.

Shame is a huge subject and people are having a hard time letting go of shame and letting God redeem it. I am fully confident, I’m living proof, that God can take our stories of shame and redeem them to something beautiful.

Maybe you’re replaying your shame moment or moments right now? It might look nothing like my story. We’re all different and struggle with different sins.

Maybe your shame story is a secret buried so deep down that you would never dream about sharing it with anyone?

Maybe you don't’ even talk to God about your shame because that means you have to dwell on it and deal with it?

What do we know about shame from the Bible? My mind immediately goes to the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 tell us that, "the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control."

Thing thing I most love when thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit is pointing out that the fruits are not individual. We don’t get to pick and choose which fruits we want like in the grocery store.

They come in a bundle. They come as 1. It’s Fruit singular. Not Fruits plural. We have them all. Once we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. They were not originally there within us. This isn’t like the toy that comes with the batteries already included.

Do you recognize what isn’t there on that list? In the fruit bundle? Shame.

Shame is not on that list. Shame comes from our flesh. Our flesh is who we were before Christ, before we become believers. Our shame can be redeemed. God is in the redeeming business.

He makes old into new. He makes sin into grace.

One of my favorite truths to cling to when shame starts to rise up in me is in 1 John 1:9. "When we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Another favorite truth that I find myself repeating over and over over in times of distress is from Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

You know what else can’t separate us from God’s love? Our feelings. Or the way we look. Or the things we’ve done.

These scripture verses all together: the fruit of the spirit, how he is faithful to forgive, and knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love, should move us to stamp out the shame in our lives.

I’ve got some ideas on how we can prune out the shame that keeps us from being the confident women of Christ that we are called to be.

Our confidence doesn’t come from us, it stems from Christ within us. Shame hinders our confidence. Shame snuffs out truth. Shame brings out feelings of inadequacy. Let's move beyond it!

1. Address the situation internally.

Feel your feelings. Replay the memory no matter how hard it is. Let yourself feel. Don’t stuff it down. The worst thing you can do is ignore it.  It’s like knowing there are month old leftovers in your fridge and you don’t clean out the tupperware.

Go through it in your mind and ask God to remind you of his truth. Remind yourself that you have the fruit of the spirit and shame isn’t one of them.

Remind yourself of the way God forgives.

Remind yourself that nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.

Open up that tupperware and deal with it!

2. Get it out.

Now, you don’t have to write a public blog post like I did, although you could. It was very cathartic. Saying the shame out loud -- no matter how bad you think it is or the flip side of how insignificant you think it is - gets it out of your head.

Now, I’m only 27, but I know that the longer things rolls around in my brain the wilder they spin out of control. Once the secret is out it loses its power.

Talk to a trusted friend, pastor, church leader, counselor, family member, literally anyone who cares about you.

3. Rinse and Repeat

Getting it out there is a healthy and important step to allow God to redeem your shame, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel it again. It doesn’t mean that the feelings are automatically gone or the memory stops replaying.

Rinse and repeat in the way of when the shame feelings rise up, let it happen. Feel the feelings. Remind yourself of the 3 powerful truths 1. Fruit of the Spirit. 2. The way God forgives. 3. Nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.

You may have to say it over and over and over again, but there is mighty power in Jesus’ name and word.

In my experience, when I’ve allowed myself to feel the feelings and ask God to rescue my thoughts, he does. Over time, the feelings don’t rise up anymore.

I want to leave you with this. Don’t let shame hold you back. Don’t let it be the thing that's keeping you from God’s purpose in your life. If you have the Holy Spirit, then you are capable of overcoming shame no matter what it may be.

Sin is all equal to God. And we have All Sinned. We are the ones who grade sin from not so bad to terrible. Deal with your issues.

We are living in a culture where no one wants to feel anything and we distract ourselves with something pretty.

Let’s be different. Let’s be strong enough to recognize that God wants best for us and doesn’t want us covered in shame. We are free. Live like it!

Shame is not Motivation

This is a story that I never tell. I'm a storyteller. I like to be in the center of the table holding everyone's attention. I've told A LOT of stories, but there is one story that I've kept locked away for years. It's time that I share it.

One day when I was in college, I went to the Caf for lunch. Luke, my then boyfriend and now husband, was waiting for me in the booths. I was standing in the pizza line and one of the workers called out to me and asked "Are you pregnant?"

Stunned and embarrassed I said "No."

His response was, "Oh, you're just really fat."

With all of the confidence I could muster I said, "that's an incredibly rude thing to say." Then I immediately left the pizza line and ran to the booths where I cried for an hour.

This isn't a story about pity or fat-shaming, which is terrible and no one should ever intentionally hurt someone's feelings, but a story about motivation.

After that encounter I was NOT motivated to make a lifestyle change or choose grilled chicken over pizza. If my memory serves me correctly, I think I went to Chick-fil-a for a fried chicken sandwich, waffle fries, buckets of Chick-fil-a sauce, and then onto Dairy Queen for a blizzard, you know, to "feel better."

From that moment on, whenever I entered a room, walked across a parking lot, sat in a chair, stood in a line, sunk into a couch, or any other public scenario you can think of there was always a deadly whisper that trickled down from my mind to my emotions that said, "everyone thinks you look disgusting and people feel sorry for you."

That interaction with that gentleman didn't drive me into depression or dangerous habits like bulimia, but it did bring shame.

Shame is a hard emotion to deal with, but shame is not a characteristic of God. He doesn't include shame in the fruit of the spirit, but instead erases shame from our lives completely. Because of Jesus' life and sacrifice, we are forgiven and don't have to feel shame. I'm so thankful for that truth!

Because I have a relationship with Jesus, I knew that thought was a lie. I trust in the fact that nothing I can do (or look like) can separate me from God's love. I know that I'm accepted by Christ. Thankfully, in the moments where that thought or thoughts like that rise up in me, I can capture it, remember God's truth, and confidently move on.

A couple of weeks ago I read the story of Hosea in the She Reads Truth study I'm going through. I love the story of Hosea. It's such a clear picture of how much God loves us, how he pursues us, and how we were made to be in relationship with him.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, please take a minute to read this.

How these 2 stories (my shame story + Hosea) relate together is this: nothing satisfies like Jesus. Not people, not things, not food, not even weight loss. A life giving relationship with Jesus is the only way that we'll be truly satisfied. We are worthy of being pursued by God. We don't have to feel shame.

I loved what Ellie Holcom wrote, "I couldn’t believe God wanted anything to do with me. I knew better, had made terrible decisions, and yet here He was saying I was chosen, beloved, forgiven, and pursued by Him! Like Gomer, I was a picture of the wayward Israel, chasing other gods and other loves, when the true God pursued me and purchased me as His own."

Prior to starting my journey, I felt just like that.

What I'm really learning is that shame doesn't motivate me into good decisions. I think that's how a lot of people operate. Making decisions out of shame / fear instead of a place of joy / love.

I knew that I had ignored a major problem in my life. Because of that secret shame I felt, I hindered myself from being truly satisfied in the Lord. I'm excited to tell you that over these 7 weeks, not only have I recognized this issue in my life, but I've given it up.

It's God's love empowers us to make good decisions. I want my outer self to reflect what's going on inside - satisfied in Christ not food.

Big decisions like getting healthy, ignoring food temptations, or recognizing the major areas that you struggle in won't last or be permanent in your life is shame is your #1 driving factor. Make big decisions to change because of love. Love for yourself and the truth of how much God loves you.

This was a more emotional post than I'm used to writing. It's hard to drum up these old feelings that I've done such a great job at stuffing down. It's hard to re-play that encounter over and over, but in a weight loss journey old emotions rise to the surface faster than anything. It's hard, emotional, and messy.

Now, I see joy in this story. I can see God redeeming that interaction as a pivotal moment in my physical and spiritual life. Shame doesn't and never will motivate me. Love motivates me. - JJ

If you have any commentary on this post, I'd love to hear it, but please stay positive. This was a really hard story for me to share. If you're struggling with shame and need someone to talk to, I'd love to listen.