Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Becoming a Cheerleader

For some reason, I never had a lot of self-esteem. My family of origin, while later on became a statistic of dysfunction and divorce, was a typical family. We made fun of each other, but we loved each other. 

I always felt like I was just missing the mark. I was fiercely competitive, but never believed I'd ever really win or be the best.

I second-guessed which led to second-best.

So, what do you think I said when I was in Chorus one day in Junior High School, and the pretty and popular girl turned around and very nicely asked me, "Are you trying out for Cheerleading?"

No, I did not say, "Sure, I'll give it a shot!"

My response was, "No...I'm not pretty enough." 

I suppose this girl fit the stereotypical cheerleader mentality because she said, "Oh, it's okay, you don't have to be pretty!" 

That wasn't what I wanted to hear. 

I wanted the pretty and popular girl to tell me, "Sure you are! You should try out!" I'm sure she was trying to be encouraging (which is the epitome of a true cheerleader), but all it did in my mind was reinforce that I was ugly. My mother could tell me otherwise all she wanted, but if the pretty and popular girl at school doesn't think I'm pretty, then I'm not.

I've often repeated that story at various times in my life, but I never realized how deeply those words impacted me well into my adult life. Those and many others in my childhood; words that did not necessarily come from my family, but from peers, teachers, and other outside influences. Words that told me more indirectly than directly, that I was stupid, ugly, unworthy and unqualified. Words that may not have been meant to say that, but because of my insecurity, were taken that way, nonetheless.

The other day, I was writing this story, along with several others from my childhood in a chapter of the book I'm working on. The working chapter title is Negative Recordings-How the words of our past keep us from believing our worth and recognizing our value.   (The working title of the book is Leaving Negativity Behind, and is based on the 31 Day Writing Challenge, Overcoming Negativity.)

As I was writing these things...these things about being healed from the words spoken over you in your past...for everyone else to read, I began to experience my own healing.

I know that God thinks I'm beautiful. I know that God thinks I'm valuable, worthy, and smart. I can point you to the scripture (Psalm 139) that solidifies it for me. I know that if He calls me to do something, it's because He knows that I'm capable. I may not be qualified, but I'm capable because He says I am. If He believes in me, then I believe in me. And I believe God. I believe all of it. I truly do. Deep in my spirit.

Yet, I look in the mirror and say, "Ugh, I hate being so fat. And my eyes are getting that hooded look. And my hair...maybe I really should touch up that gray. I have a grandma body and I'm not even a grandma. Ugh, I'm getting old and old is so ugly."

If I truly believe that God thinks I'm beautiful, then why do I still think I'm ugly?

You see, it wasn't enough for me to accept that God loves me as I am. Oh, it's enough, don't get me wrong, but I had to get to the root of why I felt that way. Who told me otherwise? 

It was those words: the ones that were not meant for evil, but at a time when I was vulnerable, satan took them and twisted them and then spoon fed them to me. The roots took hold and began to grow. I diligently watered them with my unbelief and my constant ruminating, and satan fed me more until that was all I tasted. 

This was eye-opening for me. So much of what I went through in "recovery" was based on the dysfunction of my broken home, and therefore, the blame was assigned to that. But that wasn't the case. While it didn't help my already insecure position, it didn't deserve all the blame. 

There were so many contributing factors-the neighborhood bully, peers, friends, "frenemies," even a piano teacher. I had to forgive all of them and release the debt I was holding that I didn't even know I was holding! As I wrote the challenge questions at the end of the chapter, I had to first answer them myself and say the prayers of forgiveness I was asking my reader to say.

I had to break the power of those words by chopping them down at the root.

God always lets me live it before I can give it.

Today, I call myself an encourager. I love to encourage people, especially women, in their gifts, callings and talents. And I simply love to find the positive in a negative situation, turn someone's complaint into a praise.  

Guess what...I think I finally made the Cheerleading Squad! 

My daughter was, in fact a cheerleader.
This is her, circa 2001 (Junior year?) probably saying, "What now, Mom?"

What about you?
What lies has satan fed you that you're still believing?
Do you believe that you're beautiful, or are you still seeking validation?

Blessings Along the Path,

This post is being shared on some great bloggers' sites, women who have allowed me to be on their cheerleading team! So, I'm going to take a moment to cheer about some of them:

One of them is called this: #RaRa Cheerleading Linkup...How funny is that?!
Kelly Balarie is a spunky young mom who is a "Cheerleader of Faith." Her greatest desire is to see women live passionately, purposefully and unencumbered for the Lord. She thinks I'm pretty (actually, I don't know if she does, but she looks at my heart through my blog and likes what she sees). I get to be a cheerleader on her team when I link my blog up with hers!

Holley Gerth's Coffee For Your Heart
Holley Gerth is a best-selling cheerleader. I'd say she could be the Captain of the squad. She's an encourager and the author of several best-selling books, including, You're Already Amazing, You're Made For a God-Sized Dream, You're Going to Be Okay,  and What Your Heart Needs For the Hard Days. Holley's posts and her books are so encouraging! You can purchase these books through or on Holley's website. Check it out!

Beth Steffaniak's Messy Marriage
Now, if that title doesn't make you curious, I don't know what will. Beth is a pastor's wife, a counselor and a life coach with a real personality. She not only writes, but includes weekly videos, which she calls, "Sloppy Joe Time" where she shares a personal struggle (with wonderful and often humorous footnotes at the bottom of the video). She's not afraid to let us know who she is, and that she doesn't have it all together, yet she offers great marriage tips from personal experience!

Rosilind Jukic's A Little R& R
Rosilind is an American woman married to a Bosnian man, living and serving as a missionary in Croatia. She looks like a cheerleader. The picture on her blog is so cute, yet she's apparently older than she looks. She writes about all kinds of things, but one of the greatest things she's helped me with is blog tech stuff, and how to build your blog. Rosilind encourages women to find contentment wherever God places them.

Shari Miller writes from Living to Leave a Legacy, but hosts the weekly Word Filled Wednesday linkup at Woman to Woman Ministries. W2W offers so much, I can't even begin. There's a magazine (which I keep planning to subscribe to and keep forgetting), Morning Reflections, which you just have to go to the website to read about...anyway, about Shari...she's a Stage IV breast cancer survivor who also homeschools, has a passion for the poor, underprivileged and homeless. She's a beautiful cheerleader!

Judith Kowles', Whole Hearted Home home page says this:
Inspiring, encouraging and equipping women to holy living with joy-filled hearts.
Judith lives in the Poconos and has seven children (all of whom she homeschooled from start to finish!) and three grandbabies. She writes about homemaking, recipes, marriage and the bible. She takes beautiful pictures and shares a lot on Pinterest!

Deb Wolf's blog at Counting My Blessings is more than just a fun place to link up. Deb has a heart for missions and children. She wrote a book called, Sarah's Garden, which looks like a children's book, but has a message for young and old alike. I actually just discovered this, and plan on ordering it soon! I only know Deb through blogging/link-up parties, but I know I'd love her if we knew each other personally. She loves chocolate, coffee and laughing! How could I not?


  1. I think every woman at some point in her life can relate to your thoughts and feelings here, Mary. And as I slide down the back side of "over the hill," I find myself focusing on how my face and body will one day be replaced with a new body in heaven. But even better than that, I focus on how much Jesus loves "me" just as I am. Ooh! That would make a great song! (In case you're not tracking, that's a nod to the iconic tune sung at every Billy Graham Crusade). ;) Thanks also for your sweet words about me and MM. I truly appreciate it, Mary! BTW, if you could lift up my blog in another way - through prayer. I've spent the day trying to resolve technical difficulties without success. I figure turning to prayer support will totally blow Google support out of the water! Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks, Beth. Did you get your problems resolved? I did pray, as soon as I saw this comment!

  2. Amen! You are SO on the Cheerleading squad. And, I am delighted about it. You are beautiful because of who you are in Christ. God does not look at the outward appearances, but at our heart. And your heart shines the love of Christ. I am cheering this authentic post and 1 amazing Cheerleader!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! Of course, being on the other side of 50, I've figured all that out by now, but I wish I could have told my younger self that all those years ago. You know, the funny thing is, I never really wanted to try out for cheerleading because it simply wasn't my thing. I was more into sports, and the arts. I guess I really didn't have confidence...I couldn't even say, "No, that's not my thing!"

  3. Oh those words really can haunt us for years. My girls are 6 and 8, and I am not looking forward to hearing things kids will say to them. But I do want them to tell me, so I can help them figure out how to counteract them!

  4. The wonderful thing though, Sarah, is that you have the tools. You have the great knowledge of Jesus Christ. My mother offered her heartfelt encouragement, and I'm sure that her mother's heart broke each time she witnessed my feelings of inferiority and my discouragement, but her personal relationship came later in life, as did mine. It's a scary world to raise children in today! You need extra prayer!

  5. Oh Mary, we really are on the same page this week. And you are definitely a beautiful cheerleader! Thank you so much for your kind words here today and for all the encouragement you pass my way on so often. You're right I believe we would be great IRL friends! For now, I'm so thankful God chose to make us blogging friends!