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When You Must Look at What You Don’t Want to See (meeting grace and truth in hard places)

Shutting our eyes is easier than opening them wide to the hard truth, because the hard truth casts light on what we don’t want to see.

Dmitry Ratushny
Dmitry Ratushny

It’s a strange truth that people don’t want to see their own messes because if we look at them we think that will make us look messy.

But a mess doesn’t make you messy.

A mess makes you in a grace place.

What if we all said out loud, “I’m a mess and it’s my fault and that makes me thankful for grace,” because gentle Grace came down and said, “Your mess makes you need help, and help is available to you.”

I love the church. Jesus called the church the light of the world. In the church, light streams through stained glass windows hemmed together of messy, broken people. The counselors, the teachers, the musicians are there because they know they are fallen. The church is people who know they need grace. 

The grace is the true light. Without it a church is just another dark place making us feel darker.

I’m a big believer in truth. I like helping people see truth. And guess what? It never works if it’s done loud and harsh or with shame or judgement. I’m better at it on a stage than I am face to face with people I love.

That’s why I really believe God’s been calling me off the stage to practice beauty in the up-close-and-personal and learn how to offer grace and face truth in loving ways, instead of with harsh rocks that make everyone feel more broken down.

In writing this new book about “Sex” I found out it was about gentle and unassuming tones of Love in its finest form— that none of us is really after sex, because love is what the human heart beats for. Without love we might as well shut up this place called earth and sit in darkness forever.

But love makes it possible to peel back the paper dark and see glimpses of freedom from whatever hard truth we don’t want to see.

So here’s my thought for you today: If you don’t want to look at what you don’t want to see, picture where Jesus is in the picture.

Imagine yourself dealing with your hard truth, bit by bit, step by step. Maybe even draw a picture of yourself dealing with your mess. And then draw where Jesus is in the picture.

I bet you’ll find out what I found out as I walked straight into the black pit of what I didn’t want to see: He was right there beside me. He didn’t look down into my pit and shake a finger.

He walked beside me through it.

So goes with the mess I’ve created today. So goes with the mess you’re in.

(And if you’re not in a mess right now, there is someone you know who is.)

It really is okay to say out loud, “I created this.” And I’m going to own it and face it, determined to come out the other side better than I walked in. As you deal with the hard stuff, use these two priceless gifts to walk through it:  Grace and Truth.

Grace that says: your mess makes you need a Savior.

Truth that says: I need help changing this, and I’m going to do it piece by piece, step by step. 

In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott tells a story of having to do a big class assignment where she had to classify hundreds of birds. She was overwhelmed and frozen with fear that she couldn’t do it all. 

She asked her father how on earth it would all be accomplished.

“Bird by Bird,” he assured her. Guess how she got the big job done?

Bird by Bird.

That’s how I wrote a book on Sex. Truth by hard truth. Grace upon grace. Chapter after chapter, each one at a time.

You know friend, you may have a lot of things you need to tackle. Issues that you need to resolve. A long list of things to be forgiven. You may have a wall that seems a mile high or a pile that looks impossible to face so it tricks you into thinking it’s easier to pretend it’s not there.

God will help you face hard truths with gentle grace, not a wagging finger or a cloak of shame. It’s his pleasure to peel back the paper dark and help you take first steps into the light. You don’t need to be afraid to look at the mess, because in the mess you find the gospel, you find the church, you find help in time of need.

Bird by bird.

Brick by brick. Truth by truth.

Knowing God’s got your hand. 

He is FOR you,

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About the Author: Jennifer

Jennifer Strickland is a wife, mom, TEDx speaker, and former professional model. She is the author of Girl Perfect, More Beautiful Than You Know, and Beautiful Lies, among other books and Bible studies that teach women their worth in God’s eyes. Since leaving the modeling industry, she founded URMore.org, a non-profit ministry that provides resources to hurting women and girls. Her favorite moments are found working on the family ranch with her husband, who she calls “the Cowboy”; in her kitchen, concocting a new version of her famous spaghetti; or spending time with their three precious children.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

The honesty that Jennifer uses to tell her story drew our young women in and captured their hearts. She provided them with practical tips that the women use daily to transform their lives. These decisions have caused them to do things differently. We loved her so much, we are having her back!

Chrissie Dunham

Chrissie Dunham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX

Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.

Barbara Brown

Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA

Jennifer has the ability to make you laugh, cry, and see yourself as one of God’s glorious creations — and that is just her warm up! Once Jennifer starts speaking, all you want to do is listen, learn, laugh, and love her. She takes you outside of yourself while helping you see inside of yourself, and does it in such a way that you feel safe, empowered, and capable to embrace all that the Lord is waiting to give you. She opens your eyes and your heart to hear from God in ways you never have. She connects you with others who share similar life experiences — and shines a bright light on the pathway to forgiveness, love, and blessings. Jennifer is also an amazing mother, compassionate, loving wife, and loyal, dedicated friend. Any opportunity women of any age have to hear from her is a gift and one that will produce fruit in their lives.

Lori Kennedy

Lori Kennedy, Outreach Event Coordinator, Riverview Evangelical Church, Bonsall, CA

I just picked up my girls from school today and they both talked all the way home about Jennifer’s presenation. It was a BIG HIT with Middle School and High School kids (both boys and girls). My high school daughter mentioned that she was glad that for once, a speaker focused on girl’s topics instead of sports or boy topics. She said that Jennifer engaged with the boys and made them answer questions too. My middle school daughter said that everyone in the middle school was paying attention too, and that all her friends were very tuned into what Jen was saying. Both girls said that they thought it was fine that the boys were with the girls during the presentation because the boys “needed to hear this stuff too.” 

Mother of two student attendees

Mother of two student attendees of Jennifer's U R MORE school program for boys and girls

If you think Jennifer gets the attention of adults, just see how the teenagers respond! My teenage grandchildren said they wanted to hear more from her and that her book was the only one they’ve ever really enjoyed reading! If teenagers are informed, inspired, and desire more, does anything else need to be said? Jennifer is an unusual voice of truth, integrity, and dignity. She needs to tell the world about her experiences and her victory. She encouraged me, a 70-year-old great grandmother. So, from teens to grans she has something everyone can benefit from.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon.), Speaker / Author / Founder of the Ready to Win Conferences

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