Cut Free – Encouragement for Today – January 8, 2019

Jen Wise

January 8, 2019
Cut Free

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

There's a common struggle among women: the exhausting and unbearable task of removing sweaty gym clothes after a good workout.

Yes, I realize men sweat too - but it's not the same; their clothes are so loose and stretchy. Ours are tight, contoured, made to hold it all in. That's all fine and well until you're exhausted, and the added layer of sweat adheres your top to your poor, fatigued body.

Recently at my gym, a few of us were lamenting this shared frustration when my friend Jill came around the corner, saying, "One time, I was so tired of trying to wrestle my sports bra off that I just grabbed the kitchen scissors and cut myself out." Jill is not a woman to be trifled with, friends.

I was still giggling about this as I walked home. I was also a bit in awe. It was a bold and admirable move. Though I would wrestle and sweat and contort and curse my sports bra, I would never, ever, consider chopping the thing off.

In fact, I do this with more than just my gym clothes.

I tend to engage in this on-again, off-again battle with cultural expectations. I hate feeling all this pressure - pressure to look a certain way, dress your children a certain way, act like this, decorate your house like that, travel here, work out there, DIY everything, get promoted, hire out help, eat this, never eat that, educate your children at home, at a public school, at a private school, at a Christian school, be Wonder Woman.

Some days, I resent trying to keep up with such a demanding lifestyle and appearance. The expectations are unending. I wrestle with them, fight them, and for a time, may temper them. But no matter how frustrating, I can't seem to just cut them off. No matter how much I want to leave it all behind, I keep sweating through it. You've done this too, right?

What's worse is that when we don't measure up on any of these fronts, we feel ashamed, guilty, unworthy. When there's a pile of unfolded laundry or our wardrobe is "lacking" or we're passed up for a promotion, it can actually begin to shape how we view ourselves. And while we may blame culture for perpetuating unrealistic and unhealthy expectations, we can only blame ourselves for choosing to abide by them.

The question is: Why do we wrestle with these pressures when we could simply refuse them? I wonder if there's a part of us, deep down, that's still searching for worth ... yet feeling plagued by the shame of our own imperfection. We can't let go because we just aren't sure we've found true love, true acceptance, true security. But, dear friends, we have.

Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." Our worth is set high, off the charts, determined by Jesus' great act of love, not some image of perfection we try to scrape together.

We can trust that we are wholly loved and fully valued, just as we are. We have nothing to prove. We can cling to what we know is true and believe it with our whole hearts, even deep down where fears and insecurities try to linger.

Sometimes, our greatest act of faith is ignoring the dust and the pile of unfolded laundry. Sometimes, our greatest act of faith is ignoring our chipped nail polish and two-day-old ponytail. Because it's hard not to give in to the prevailing thought that our picturesque home and expert style determine our value.

We know who we are and to whom we belong. Our identity, value and worth are not up for grabs. A messy kitchen doesn't make me a bad person, or make you a bad person, either. A bad hair day doesn't diminish your status as a daughter of the King.

We don't have to measure up to some arbitrary standard to earn love, acceptance or worth; we already have it. If you've been trying and trying, wrestling and sweating, why not just cut yourself free?

Dear God, thank You for Your unfailing love and unconditional acceptance. Help me to trust in it, to find rest in it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

To the woman who feels her all is never enough, Jen Wise's new book is your invitation to a fresh start. Order The Bright Life: 40 Invitations to Reclaim Your Energy for the Full Life here today.

Connect with Jen on Instagram and Facebook, and stop by her website.

Maybe you could use a reminder that you were created to be healthy, strong, vibrant, and to rest in the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus so lovingly makes available to us all. Enter to WIN a copy of The Bright Life. In celebration of this book, Zondervan is giving away 5 copies as well as 5 custom-designed planner+journals! Enter to win by leaving a comment in our comments section. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and notify them in the comments section by Monday, January 14.}

Choose one area to cut yourself free - make a choice to not be tyrannized by the state of your home, choose recreation over social climbing, be kind to the woman in the mirror. Be free.

© 2019 by Jen Wise. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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