Free People.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Uninhibited. Wanderer. Free Spirit. These words evoke such an excitement within our souls. Thoughts of adventure, throwing off the obligations that tie us down bring a rush of adrenalin. When we hear those words, they resound within our souls since they capture something that we were made for.

Freedom.

There is something about wandering, about not being restricted, that seems so appealing. Whether it’s as elaborate as quitting your job to travel the world, or as simple as experimenting with different ways of dressing, the life unhindered, the life of the free spirit, is one we perceive as adventurous and exciting.  It is the life we all dream of.

People tend to characterize the life of the free spirit by wandering, seeing it as the cure all for the stresses that serve as bondage in everyday life. But wandering does not automatically entail freedom. It can be easy for we Free Spirits to allow our experiences to define our freedom, so much so that we are only free when we are moving around, never committing, never following through because we want to keep our options open.

 

That’s not freedom.

 

That’s being captive to experience.

 

What happens when we don’t have an experience? When we have a moment that isn’t incredible? It is in those moments that we realize we are shackled by the need to seek. There’s nothing wrong with searching, but what are you looking for? Is there a destination? Or are you just seeking for seeking sake?

The truth is, freedom comes when you realize that your identity and destiny are not found in being free of commitment, but found from your Creator. You are created for greatness, to experience fullness of life without having to chase it around the globe, or from job to job, or from boyfriend to boyfriend. Freedom is knowing that there is an unshakable foundation on which your identity is based. When you realize that, you’ll be free to dream big and live extraordinarily without the burden of trying to make your life spectacular. Because it already is. You just have to realize it.

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Beauty beats comparison.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Our souls long for it. Seek it.

We are programed for it.

But in the world, it is subjective.

 

Beauty.

 

It is hinged on so many factors:

Your hair, perfectly styled. Your skin, flawless. Your body, thin and identical to a photo shopped image.

And the thing is, we never arrive,

The best we can do is be better than someone else.

We become bent on outshining others, buying into the idea that if someone else is beautiful, then they must be the single standard we must comply to. Jealousy arises, pitting us against one another, as beauty is compartmentalized into a single mold.

Thus, we allow comparison to rule our identity, our worth, our beauty, our self-love, our destiny and our relationships with others.

 

But what if we believed that beauty isn’t determined by outward factors, but is inherent to each and every one of us? If we believed that beauty does not have one face, but every face? What would that do to our relationships? To our dreams? To the way we treat our bodies? To our self-esteem?

 

When we know our beauty as part of our identity, we’re moved from a victim mentality to power. Suddenly, we don’t have to hate others for their beauty, because we realize that beauty is in everyone. We recognize that other people have no power over determining our worth, because beauty is not relative.

 

What could we discover about ourselves, our passions, our dreams, our abilities, our creativity, if we lived in a place of power?

 

We would be free to cultivate who we truly are, instead of trying to construct someone else. We wouldn’t have to pick each other apart so that we can feel better about ourselves. We would be secure in our own beauty, so we’d know that others don’t threaten us. We would see other women not as competition, but our greatest allies, as fellow strong, beautiful people.

 

I think it is Satan’s greatest plot to subdue women: pitting them against each other in competition. Because he knows how strong we are, he knows how much damage we can do for the Kingdom of God if we truly knew our worth in Christ, united as sisters. Community lends to strength, growth and empowerment, for you and others. Comparison creates envy, self-absorption, self-hatred, and self-pity. When we live in a place of power, secure in our identity and destiny, we look outward, we become mountain movers and we empower others to rise to who they are as well. When things change within, things change around us.

 

If we knew our beauty and helped others know theirs, we could change the world.

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Forgiveness From the Heart.

Courtesy of Pinterest

 

“Sarah, I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

 

Tears streamed down my face, matting the strands of un-kept hair that were tangled in my wet eyelashes.  My friend and I sat across from each other on the white duvet, clothed in baggy sweaters, the muted crashing of Indian Ocean waves against the shore as our background noise.

 

I had reached the end of myself.

 

After a year of intense emotional trial, from losing people I cared deeply about to being faced with the staggering effects of my past eating disorder, I was done. My heart was absolutely fractured, my emotional capacity absolutely spent. I had done everything I could in the face of great loss and pain: I had grieved, I had gone back into my past, I had processed, I sought mentorship and wise counsel, I sought healing, I had prayed and been prayed for. And yet, I was still so broken.

 

True, things had gotten better. I had witnessed the effect that acknowledging the past can have on your present. Through recognizing my continual battle with lingering eating-disorder tendencies, I discovered my passion for helping others in their struggles. Through a broken relationship, I was taught the essential need for mourning.

 

But still, remnants of my past clung to my heart, relentlessly reminding me of my incurability. “He didn’t think you were worth the second chance,” they whispered cruelly to me regarding my fractured relationship, “so you’re not worthy.”

 

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was tired of hearing this endless loop in my mind, exhausted from tormented dreams that recycled that same mantra, giving shape to my fear that these thoughts were truth.

 

My friend’s eyes softened and, not saying a word, she pulled me into a hug and held me as I sobbed.

 

Little did I know that it was at the end of myself that my answer would come.

 

The following morning, Sunday, June 9th, at a little church called Victory in the inconspicuous surf town of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, my heart was forever altered. The pastor began to speak about forgiveness from the heart. Something within me stirred, and I knew this message was meant for me.

 

I listened, captivated by the words of truth I so desperately needed to hear. To forgive from the heart, we must realize that unforgiveness, anger, bitterness etc. are simply indicators of a bigger problem, the pastor explained. If we try to medicate these surface issues, we will forever be frustrated. The root of these negative feelings lies in the shifting of our focus from God to the person or circumstance we are angry with. Thus, our unforgiveness becomes an idolatry of the heart. Our thoughts revolve around that person, become consumed by them, until every moment is filled with our anger.

 

In turning our focus to a particular person or circumstance, we give them the power to determine our identity and destiny.

 

We allow another person or experience to define us, letting ourselves feel stupid, unworthy, used, damaged. Suddenly, those outside forces become the superior influence and word on our identity. This makes it impossible to forgive anyone, because every time we see that person or are reminded of them, we feel stupid, unworthy, used and damaged.

 

“No person controls your identity or destiny. You can choose to let them have power over that, but only God has authority over your identity and destiny.”

 

It all made so much sense now, my ongoing struggle. I had been allowing a person to dictate who I was and the direction in my life. I had bought into the lie that since my relationship had messed up, that would direct the course of my life. I had permitted my own feelings of unworthiness to turn the other person into a monster, so that every time I saw him, I felt shame. And I believed that I was damaged goods. That broken was as good as I was going to get.

 

Then I stopped looking at a person and started looking to the only One who truly has a say in who I am and where I am headed. And what did I find?

 

Wholeness. Life. Love. Freedom. Fullness. No lack. Limitless possibilities. Victory.  Things I had given up on, yet they were right there in the passages of Scripture, promises, love letters written on the pages of eternity, sealed by the blood of our Lover, Jesus Christ.

 

And when you experience that, you can’t help but forgive the other person.

 

Now, I must ask, what are you allowing to determine your identity and destiny? Is it a break-up, like me? Is it feelings of self-hatred? Is it an experience with bullying or abuse? A broken family? Whatever it is, it doesn’t have any power over you, unless of course, you allow it to. Your Lover, Jesus Christ, saw you in your brokenness and, compelled by love, bore all of your shame and pain as He conquered death on the cross and rose again. He alone determines your identity and destiny. And do you know what He thinks of you? He calls you His Beautiful One, His Flawless One. He is utterly captivated by you. And He has a life full to overflowing with dreams beyond anything you could ever imagine.

 

We have a choice. We can permit the things of our past to rule who we are and where we are headed, or we can choose Him.

What will you choose?

 

If you would like to continue this conversation, please feel free to contact me via email at tayllor.a.lemphers@biola.edu or comment below! And please, share your forgiveness journeys too! I’d love to hear how you are learning to live well.

 

Please take the time to check out Victory Church, there is some powerful stuff being done through that group!

 

I love you all very much, I hope the journey my heart has been on can help you on yours!

 

Blessings,

 

Tayllor

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Coming out of hiding.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

 

Hello, Beauties!

 

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long, I feel like I’ve just started to re-emerge into the outside world! I’ve been kind of a hermit for the past couple weeks, just trying to process my profound life changes.

 

Have you ever had an experience that has radically altered the way you view the world? The way that you understood love? An experience that showed you that there is no limit to your radical dreams?

 

Well, I certainly have. Two weeks back home in Canada and I am still trying to take it all in!

 

My time in South Africa created enough space so that my Heavenly Lover could speak healing and truth into my raw, wounded heart, my heart that was so cluttered with all that had occurred over the preceding year that I had given up on healing. I thought being whole again was impossible. But it sure is incredible what making space to listen to truth will make possible!

 

I know that summer can be busy, but I would encourage you to take a step back, even just for a moment, and really listen to what’s going on inside of you. You might be surprised at just how long it’s been since you’ve actually listened.

 

Be sure to check out my next post, in which I will elaborate on the amazing truth that has brought me freedom like I have never experienced before! It’s too good not to share.

 

In the mean time, enjoy some fun, South African lingo that I picked up during my month-long adventure:

Yoh (pronounced like “yo”, but more breathy) – an expression, often used for emphasis “Yoh, that dinner was delicious!” South Africans use this one all the time.

Robots – traffic lights (isn’t that awesome?!)

Hectic – crazy, wild “That party was hectic!”

Bru (pronounced “brew”) – dude, informal way of addressing a friend.

Howzit – Short for “How’s it going?”/ used as a greeting, like hello.

Braai (pronounced br-eye) – a BBQ, but with an open fire. Also used as a verb as in to braai the meat.

And my personal favorite,

Lekker – great, incredible “Those waves are lekker!”

 

Tayllor xoxo

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Choose Love.

Two and a half weeks in to my South African adventure and I must say, it’s felt like much longer than that! All the things that I’ve had the opportunity to do, like explore the city of Cape Town, wine tasting in Boschendal, hike around Table Mountain, go for sunrise runs along the beach and craggy cliffs and even hold a lion cub, have made my time here so rich and full of experiences. I even had my first surf lesson in Jeffery’s Bay yesterday evening, and I stood up! In short, this trip has been nothing less than incredible.

 

But even here, in this little paradise that I’ve been living in, I am not immune to the struggles I face back home, my ongoing battle with self-hatred being one of them. Looking over pictures from my trip thus far, my first thought was, “My hair looks disgusting.” It came so naturally, like a knee-jerk reaction. It almost passed by unnoticed. But then I realized that was a common theme as I looked through all of my memories. Instead of being grateful for this amazing experience, or being taken aback by a breathtaking view, I scrutinized myself, noting what was wrong with me in each picture. “Your thighs are fat. Your butt’s too big. Your shoulders are to broad.”

 

We choose a part of ourselves, or a list of parts, that we hate and feed ourselves that hatred as motivation in attempt to force our bodies to reach this impossible standard we put on ourselves. We use exercise and eating as punishment for ourselves, restricting or obsessing over these mechanisms of perceived control. But do you notice that we never seem to reach those standards? We could always be better, thinner, prettier, smarter. Good is never good enough.

 

When we look in the mirror, we don’t see the things that we perceive to be “right” about ourselves, we see only the flaws. We pick ourselves apart, criticizing relentlessly until our self-hatred becomes our personal soundtrack, our inner mantra, an endless loop. Degrading ourselves becomes second nature and we don’t even realize it. What kind of thoughts are you feeding yourself? Those thoughts are of the utmost importance, as they manifest themselves within you, shaping your growth and directing your path. The way you think about yourself hold enormous power, enough to change your life. What is your soundtrack telling you? Is it mostly good? Or mostly bad?

 

Well, you have a choice to make. Everyone does.

 

We can declare truth over the areas of lies, healing over what has been broken. Only if we believe that we have the power to change will change come to pass. Many of us, myself included, have been feeding ourselves deception for far too long. Let’s claim truth, let’s refuse the lies. Let’s speak love over our bodies, make peace with the areas we’ve been at war with.

 

To my hair, I say “Hair, you are healthy and shiny. You are not too thin, you are not too short. I refuse to believe that my hair is ugly, and I declare that it is perfect just as it is.”

To my thighs, “You are toned, you are elegant, you are not too big. You help me run fast and far. I declare that my legs are incredible.”

And my butt, “You are attractive, you are muscular, you are not too large. You look awesome in jeans. I declare that my butt is amazing.”

 

What do you need to declare love over? What part of you have you been beating relentlessly, that must be soothed with words of healing? At first, this may seem ridiculous. It may seem contrived. But, slowly, little by little, the more you choose love over hatred, truth over lies, the more you will begin to believe it. Let body peace begin.

Image compliments of A Well Traveled Woman

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Just Some Brief Musings.

Courtesy of Pinterest

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank

Is it strange that even though I’ve learned this year that life is often very painful and many times, we want what we can’t have in the moment, I feel the most hopeful about life right now? About chasing my dreams? Because I feel secure in what’s in my heart, the passions and dreams that have been created just for me, that they will come to pass in a way more beautiful than I could ever imagine. I have seen the redemption that comes out of pain. I have seen beauty come from the ugliness. I have seen the most dire circumstances in my life, from my broken past to my broken heart being used to open doors I would have never seen, fueling passions I would have never discovered if not for my experiences. Thus, I have hope.

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Transitions.

It seems as though these past couple weeks have been those full of change. Amidst the vast (and quite frightening!) amount of my friends getting engaged/married, moving, graduating college and another semester of university drawing to a close for myself, I found myself feeling like I was in a sort of limbo, frantically trying to grasp something that wasn’t turning into something else.

I felt so unstable. When something that you’ve been doing for so long, that deeply engrained routine you’ve established, perhaps even a pattern that you’ve longed to be done with finally comes to an end, you find yourself feeling quite naked, wanting some form, some shape, some stability to your day. So when the craziness ends, the world comes to a standstill, our projects are finished, we get a day off from work or perhaps summer has finally arrived, what do we do?

Why, we get busy again, of course!

We cannot stand the uncomfortable feeling that we don’t have a purpose, that we don’t have something to achieve, despite the fact that in the midst of all of our efforts to achieve, to work, to study and to perform, all we want is a break.

We want things to change, to let up a little. But in order to get to that place of bliss that we all crave so much, we must go through the transition period.

And transitions are scary. Really scary.

But we do ourselves and our hearts a disservice when we quickly busy ourselves to distract us from this foreign feeling.

We need to give ourselves grace. Where we have come from, all we have been subjected to, whether it’s been a long semester at school, a grueling period at work or a turbulent time in a relationship, that must be honored. All of our experiences are worth appreciating, processing, acknowledging. Our experiences, both good and bad, shape who we are. We must ask ourselves, “What did I learn from this? How have I grown? What hurt? What was beautiful? How will it affect how I live now?” In our attempts to forgo the scary in-between time, we can miss the value and beauty found in our past.

Not only that, but we can also miss the value and beauty of the present. When we launch into something new right away, we rush through all that we can experience in the here and now. Maybe all we need is a perspective change. Instead of viewing transitions as a time of fear and uncertainty, view it as a time of rest. How often do we ever not have obligations? Places to be? People to contact, appointments to schedule, work to be done? Not too often.

So let’s take advantage of those transitions. Let’s take time to just be. Maybe notice the surreal beauty of a sunset, read that book you’ve always said you would when you got the time, or drink your morning coffee slowly while taking in the rich aroma of roasted beans. Let transitions be what they should be: restful, peaceful, rejuvenating. Let them happen, don’t fight them needlessly with the weapons of productivity and busyness. Learn more about yourself, your past, your present and be patient about where you’re headed. The future will come, the projects will return, work and school will resume and life will go on. But in this moment, just be. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

xoxo Tayllor

PS: Photo is courtesy of Pinterest. For more photo inspiration, you can follow me here.

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