It can get messy trying to figure out how change really happens.
When we don’t deal with hurts, when we bury or mask truth, things only get worse.
The other day when I was speaking in a public school, a girl asked me how to deal with sexual abuse. I knew it was an honest question from personal experience, and despite the snickering girls on the other side of the room, I set my gaze like a laser beam on that brave and honest girl and told her unequivocally that she needed to go to someone she could be God-honest-real with: she needed to not bury truth. Not pretend like it wasn’t there. No hiding. No masking the pain. She HAD to speak about it to the right person to get free.
This got me thinking about change, how change really happens for people, and like the dawn I remember how it how it happened for me.
It happened when I got real.
Looked at what I didn’t want to look at: the real, hard truth.
And dealt with it, piece by piece, until it no longer held me captive, until I stood in triumph over the rubble of my past — and it truly became past.
Breakthrough came when I stopped pointing the finger at everybody else and owned my life — the dilapidated parts, the worn over and broken parts, the grime, the hidden truths, the lies — and decided it was MINE, and MINE only to clean up — and that it was worth however much time it took to get well.
Change happened when I got messy real with God and a trusted few mentors — no masks, no cover-ups, no half-truths — just bare-faced and real. You know what I found out?
I found out I wasn’t a failure because I was fallen. I found out I was loved at my worst.
In the writing of my new book coming out in June, I discovered the topic of sex is the most complicated subject I could have written about, but in every case it seemed to have the same answer: grace and truth.
It is in presence of both grace and truth that we change. We need grace: we need to know that whatever kind of fallen we are, we are not branded by our mistakes. Jesus took the branding on the Cross — that’s grace. We need grace like we need a hand from the sky to reach out, pick us up, and dust us off when we’ve really, really blown it.
But grace is not enough.
We need truth. Without truth, no one changes.
Truth is something we have to admit. We have to own and face. And it’s so much easier to hide in the shadows of shame than it is to say out loud how we really got to this hard place.
When it comes to broken people, Jesus always offers grace first – but then He challenges them to own their truth. He did not hold back the hard-to-hear in hopes people might do better not facing the real sin that got them there to begin with. He is honest with us, and it is in the real that we break free to become better people, to take a better path.
My hope is you receive His grace today — and that frees you to be strong and courageous — to face your truth with the most realness you can. Where there is truth, there is freedom — and where there is freedom, change is possible.
Whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. – 1 Cor 3:16-18
Herein lies the formula for change:
- We turn to the Lord and take off our masks. There is no separation between us. We are real and honest and open.
- We are free to face our sin, and the Holy Spirit is there to counsel and guide us.
- As we are real, God transforms us to be more and more like Him.
When one broken woman told Jesus “the whole truth,” He called her “My Daughter.” God already knows your truth. He just wants you to face it so He can change you to be more like Him — for in Him is the fullness of joy. Let Him have His work in you! You will not be disappointed with the results.
Where there is grace, there is relationship — and where there is relationship, there is truth. Where there is truth, there is freedom — and where there is freedom, there is real change for the better.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
At the age of 18, I was recovering from an eating disorder, cutting, and suicide when I read Jennifer Strickland’s book Girl Perfect and it changed my life. At the age of 33, as I travel the world reaching youth for the gospel, this is the only book I recommend to girls who are struggling. The Lord has truly anointed Jennifer’s words through her story, not only to address the struggles of today’s generation of girls, but also to walk them through the healing necessary for victory.
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, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA
“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”
Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church
“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”
Allie Marie Smith
Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made
One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”