You are precious and honored in my sight, and… I love you. (Isaiah 43:4, NIV)
All it takes is an instant for me to forget my royal identity and start labeling myself with lies. Like the time I froze up over a spatula while hosting a baby shower. I’d opened the doors of our tiny rental house, keenly aware of the four-foot scrape on the linoleum floor, and other dings and dents left by previous tenants. The pressure of playing hostess to a bunch of southern belles who knew how to act at a baby shower (way better than I did) was stifling. That’s when it happened. Someone asked for my cake server. Knowing I didn’t have one in the wedding-gift stash, I rummaged around in the junk drawer for an alternative. When I finally produced a semi-melted, black plastic spatula, I saw what looked like disdain as the other ladies scrutinized it.
And that’s when I froze. My spirit crushed as I accessed my most painful memories of being bullied in junior high school. In an instant, I was that sixth grade girl, fearful, weak, a nobody. I harshly labeled myself:
“You don’t fit in.”
“You can’t do anything right.”
How God Sees Me
Elijah knew his unique identity in the Lord. But he also knew labels. A prophet of God, he had a special message. One filled with heart for God’s people. And yet, King Ahab, with all his royal clout, labeled Elijah in 1 Kings 18:17: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Ouch.
I love how Elijah dealt with this, and the general dejection of running for his life:
He took care of business – divine business. Read the story of Elijah praying for fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18:21-39. It’s awesome.
He got alone and took his heart to God. “I have had enough, LORD.” (1 Kings 19:4)
And what did God do? He provided for his needs.He fed him bread for the journey ahead.
So what can I learn from Elijah, who was human, just like I am? (James 5:17)
When I feel unloved, I take my hurts to God. He holds my hand and collects my tears in a bottle. (Isaiah 42:6, Psalm 56:8)
When I feel like nobody, I remember that I am precious and honored in God’s sight. (Isaiah 43:4)
When I feel like I don’t fit in, I remember He has not rejected me. (Isaiah 41:9, 10)
Friend, take your hurts to God. He’ll give you bread, sustenance, for the journey.
One Small Step
What lies are your inner bullies telling you? Are you listening to and affirming them?
Prayerfully write down who you are in God. Post on your bathroom mirror, your phone background, and above your kitchen sink. Let these beautiful truths sink in as they become louder than the mind clutter bullies.
“Earlier this year 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed in an interview with The Wrap Magazine that she was denied a role opposite a man almost 20 years her senior because she was ‘too old’.
‘There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,’ she said. ‘I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” DailyMail.com
I love Maggie Gyllenhaal’s evolution of feelings when it comes to being judged as “too old” at 37 to play the love interest of a 55 year old actor.
First, she felt bad.
Then, it made her angry.
Then, it made her laugh.
When one of us is made to feel badly about ourselves, for our age, our weight, our sags, our lines, I know very few people who embrace such a body positive image that we’re able to just laugh straight off. Just as there are seven stages of grief, I believe these are the three stages of self-acceptance.
As a woman who is trying to make sure that I’m doing all I can to feel great about myself and my marriage, the world is definitely not making it easy on us.
[Tweet “How to be a HOT MAMA in your 40’s #bettermarriage5”]
And so at 40-something, when I start to feel bad about the criteria the world uses about how I look, about my sex drive, my energy level, I realize I need to move from stage one to stage three pretty quickly. (For my sake, and for the sake of my husband.)
Because the sexiest things about a wife are confidence and the ability to laugh at yourself – and fellow forties friends – this is where we have it all over our younger sisters.
We mamas in our forties know a few secrets that our younger friends may have yet to discover:
Our teens think we’re hard of hearing because we play the TV so loud, (but really that’s just to cover up the sounds of our nooner on a Saturday after lunch.)
We realize that naps aren’t just for sleeping anymore. (Daytime sex is awesome, especially since most of our kids aren’t so “little” anymore. When they stopped taking naps, we started.)
We love Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass” (and buy lingerie with some structure so we too can keep “all the right junk in all the right places…”)
We understand that while the visual is important (that’s why, even at our “advanced” age, we’re STILL going to the gym,) that the pat on the butt and the “Can’t wait to see you tonight, the kids are staying with friends overnight…” as he’s going off to work can have a pretty daunting effect.
So as I work at being a Hot Mama in her 40’s, I want to give you a real glimpse of what it looks like:
My Hot Mama Marriage: Recently, I had breakfast with Elisa Morgan, the founder of MOPS. Elisa and I have known about each other for a long time, but hadn’t spent any time together until this breakfast. After the food had been placed on our table, she turned to me and said, “I want to know about you. Well, what I do know about you from Facebook is that you are madly in love with your husband.”
Yep – after the fact that I’m a Jesus girl, that’s the most important piece of information you could know about me. But it hasn’t come without a lot of struggle and pain.
Two divorces (one his, one mine,) two kids, two step kids, and two exes. Debt, death, and did I mention exes?
It hasn’t been an easy road, but now, in our forties (OK he’s in his fifties, but he acts like he’s in his forties – in the best way possible,) we have the gift of having a few years under our belt and being supremely and utterly comfortable with each other. It’s such a gift.
My Hot Mama Bedroom: OK – you know how all those romance books tell you to reserve your bedroom as a sanctuary for your romance?
For me? Not so much.
I run a business from my home, and grand central is a corner of our bedroom. BUT, one of the advantages of being in my late forties? Pretty soon all the bedrooms in our house will be vacant and I will have my own little office. I will be able to dedicate our bedroom just to bedroom activities (which include sleep, Seinfeld reruns, and sex. In that order.)
My Hot Mama Exercise Routine:
I was trying to be a runner.
Until the scourge of Planter Fasciitis hit. And now I’m a walker. (But at least I’m not using a walker, so that’s a good thing, right?)
So while I’m not “crushing it”, I’m taking exercise more seriously than I ever have before. I’m walking a mile every single day, and have walked two 5Ks. I’m trying to challenge myself in new ways. And part of the reason is I can feel the difference when I exercise like never before. When I don’t move? I feel it for the rest of the day. That’s even more motivation than looking great – feeling great.
My Hot Mama Clothes:
I spend more money on my clothes now than I did when I was younger, but I’m also way more confident in what I look good in, and what I should avoid at all costs. And remember – confidence is sexy.
My Hot Mama Nights:
Monday through Friday? I love to cook a good dinner, and after a long, long day, relax with my man for an hour or so, (I get up at 5 AM, so the hour between 7 and 8 PM is the best one I have,) where, if Roger had his druthers, I would spend the entire time scratching his back (and sometimes, that’s exactly what happens,) and then Roger goes back to work in his office (his team is India) and I wind down for bed.
Hot – right?
But that connecting during the week pays off on the weekend when we go out with friends or travel on the weekends. It’s a comfortable routine, with a little hot thrown in on a regular basis.
My Hot Mama Sex Life Challenges:
Let’s be honest – if you’ve hit the forties, you’ve noticed some changes in your sex life. Physically, things have changed – for you and for him.
It’s at this point, you can’t be shy about talking to your doctor. There are meds, there are over the counter helps. Don’t be shy! Your great sex life depends on it!
My Hot Mama Confidence:
I am absolutely more confident than I was in my 20’s or even my 30’s. In your 40’s, you stop trying to please the world and start working on pleasing the ones that are important. In my case, that’s God, my husband, and in my forties, I can finally say, myself.
Are you a hot mama in your 30’s? Then head on over to Erin MacPherson, my co-author’s post about hot to pull off being a Hot Mama when you still have some kiddo in the house… http://wp.me/p33YCp-Kz
When Doubt Tries to Bully Us Guest Post from Renee Swope
One morning I woke up feeling beat up by discouragement. My mind was being bullied by thoughts of doubt. I can’t do it all! I am not cut out to be a wife, mom, or a women in ministry.
As I lay in bed feeling completely inadequate, my radio alarm came on. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by Twila Paris singing to me. She told me this was no time for fear, but a time for faith and determination. She challenged me not to carried away by my emotions, but to hold on to all I had hidden in my heart, and all I believed to be true. Then she reminded me of the most important truth of all: God is in control.*
When I heard her words, my thoughts were aligned with God’s truth.I went from feeling afraid to feeling determined. From feeling out of control to knowing God is in control.
We have the choice either to let doubt beat us up or to let God’s truth build us up. If we have Christ in us, we have full access to God’s power and promises to live with a confident heart. But it won’t just happen because it’s possible.
We have to take action. Just as I had to tune my radio to encouraging music, we need to get intentional about tuning our thoughts to God’s thoughts toward us, every day.
In the same way a radio has AM and FM frequencies, so do our thoughts. They are either FM (for me) thoughts or AM (against me) thoughts. And when our thoughts are against us, our feelings will be too.
Next time thoughts of doubt come against you, stop and ask God for His perspective. Do your thoughts match His thoughts toward you?
Here are some AM and FM thoughts to help you get started:
When doubt comes against me, saying I’m weak and all alone, I will focus on the truth that God is for me! I can be strong and courageous because the Lord my God is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deut. 31:6).
When doubt comes against me, saying I’m not good enough for a certain role or position, I will remember that God is for me! He says I am His masterpiece, created to be new in Christ so that I could do good things He planned long ago (Eph. 2:10).
Doubt Diet Tip: When we go on a regular diet, it’s helpful to start a food journal to keep track of what we’re eating. That way we can notice unhealthy habits and find healthy alternatives. For three days, keep a “thought” journal to track what you’re thinking so you can identify unhealthy “against me” thoughts and replace them with healthy God is “for me” thoughts.
Enter to win a copy of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope – just in time for her online book/Bible study starting April 1st . To enter just enter a comment below regarding the doubts that make you less than confident to be the woman God intended you to be. Three people will win!
Renee Swope is the mom of a toddler and two teens, and wife of one very patient man. She’s also a speaker and co-host of Proverbs 31 Ministries radio show. Renee’s passion is to help women rely on and live in the power of God’s promises in our everyday lives. Receive encouragement and connect with Renee on her blog at www.ReneeSwope.com.