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Posts tagged ‘Michelle McKinney Hammond’

Single and Simply Fabulous.


 

single-womanTo a woman, whether single or married, what matters most is knowing her worth in the eyes of God.

What do you think of yourself? How would you describe yourself to someone if you were being objective? Would you want to get to know you if you met yourself walking down the street? Well, it’s time to get under the skin you’re in.

I’ve told the story of the time I was deeply hurt in a relationship—so deeply I had a party with the devil who served me Unbelief Tea and Resignation Pie topped with “Why Me?” sauce. Well, the man got married and divorced. He became a Christian. He came back to me. I was thrilled.

Then we had a major disagreement. He married someone else without telling me. (Can you believe he got married on me twice? What was I thinking?)

Though it took a while, we resolved the past, and today we’re friends. One day when we were having a discussion I jokingly said, “Oh, no one wants to marry me.”

“Why wouldn’t anyone want to marry you?” he asked.

I replied, “I don’t know.”

He came back with: “Yes, you do. Why wouldn’t anybody want to marry you?”

That’s when the light came on in my head. I couldn’t think of any reason why a man with good sense wouldn’t want to marry me!

“Actually,” I said, “I think I am absolutely fabulous! I wasn’t always fabulous, but I am now, so the reality is that a man would be a fool not to want to marry me because I am a complete package.”

My friend replied: “Well, there you have it. I thought you knew that. You would be quite a catch for someone, but if you don’t know it, no one else will either. And men will treat you accordingly.”

His comments caused me to pause and reflect. I realized that lately I had been attracting a different kind of man. I had broken the cycle of disappointing relationships. I had changed.

That’s when it clicked: We attract people who feed off what we think of ourselves. Did you know that?

When I thought I wasn’t a great prize, I attracted people who reinforced that idea in my mind. I didn’t feel beautiful inside or out, so I allowed them to make me feel unattractive.

I didn’t feel as if I had any purpose, so I would lose myself in their pursuits and neglect the call God had placed on my own life.

I gave my heart away to the undeserving because I didn’t know how much it was worth. I was empty, spent by my efforts to find fulfillment in external things that would never satisfy.

Scripture says, “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet” (Prov. 27:7, NIV). I don’t think I had any concept of what honey tasted like. It wasn’t real to me.

For me the bitter was as good as it got. It was what I was used to; therefore, I decided I should settle for it. After all, some man was better than no man at all, right?

Looking back, I see myself as a woman running around with her heart in her hand offering it to anyone who would have it: “Here, take my heart. Try it, you’ll like it!” Well, who would consider a giveaway valuable?

Girl, it’s time to come to know your worth and make no apologies for it.

Knowing Your Value
How do we get to the place in which our self-worth is intact? And how do we master confidence with grace?

When I address self-confidence and self-worth, please understand that I’m talking about getting a healthy perspective of your worth as a woman through Christ.

You are a pearl of great price. If Jesus thought you were worth dying for, there is no reason for you to believe others have the right to abuse the life He went through so much to save.

It is important for us to see ourselves as the King sees us. This can be difficult when we are bombarded by so-called perfect images via the media. According to them we should all be a streamlined size 6 or 8. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t hit those numbers since high school.

In the Song of Songs, the Shulammite woman speaks with confidence to her friends in defense of her looks, but she tends to lose that confidence when addressing the man of her dreams (see Song 1:5-7). Nevertheless, King Solomon sings her praises and pays tribute to her beauty (see vv. 8-10). Despite what she felt, he saw perfection.

As a result of reading Solomon’s dissertation, I have come to believe the media has misled us. It’s not about being model-thin with waist-length hair and chiseled cheekbones. It’s about being a complete package. This requires giving attention to both the outside and the inside of our beings.

Cultivate external beauty. The first thing that arrested the king was the Shulammite’s eyes (see Song 4:1). He said that they were like doves, which signifies that she did not boldly come on to him. She made a louder statement with her silence by displaying modesty and humility.

It has been said the eyes are the windows to the soul. This statement is not from Scripture, but it is true. If you are harboring any pain, any anger, any distrust, it will come to light in your eyes.

It is important to clear your heart’s deck with God so these negative things don’t become deflectors when you look at others. Your lips may smile, but your eyes will give your bitter heart away every time, and no amount of eye makeup can camouflage a wounded heart.

The king also liked his beloved’s hair. Women today have so many options that there is no excuse for not having beautifully groomed hair.

Don’t be above doing whatever it takes to get your head together—in more ways than one. Hair occasionally had significance in Scripture. For example, a Nazirite priest’s uncut hair was a sign of his commitment to God. What does your hair say about you?

Solomon mentions the Shulammite’s teeth, mouth and speech. She spoke things that were inviting, that caused him to want to spend time with her. Though she did not reach out to him, her mannerisms drew him to her.

Acquire internal grace. In mentioning the Shulammite’s inner qualities, Solomon revealed his heart to her. He called her his sister, his bride. He treasured her completely, granting her the same consideration and protection he would give to a sister.

The Shulammite woman was beautiful to the king because everything about her character was good. The fruits of her life were things that he valued because they mirrored the fruit of the Spirit (see vv. 13-16).

You might feel that the Shulammite’s standard of beauty is impossible to attain, but it isn’t. It’s not about being thin or about having perfect teeth or great hair! It’s about your being the best woman you can be, inside and out. Work with what you’ve got.

Dressed for Success
When you’ve achieved your own personal best, you’re going to feel good about yourself. Your different attitude will attract a different type of attention. When you’re comfortable with you, others will be too.

When Queen Esther was being prepared as a candi-date for the king’s bride, she, along with the other women, went through a beauty treatment that lasted for 12 months. They were entering a different lifestyle. Nothing of their old life was to remain. So they were treated with scents that delighted the king.

The day came when Esther and the others were ready to be presented to the king. On this occasion, the candidate for bride was given her choice of attire.

Esther asked the eunuch, who had been in the king’s employ for quite some time, what he thought she should wear. The other girls probably picked what to wear based on what had worked for them in the past. But it didn’t work for the king.

Seek wise counsel about what looks good on you—inside and out. Don’t get defensive when others offer constructive criticism; use it to your advantage, and get free. Don’t be afraid to let go of some old habits and embrace a new line of thought.

Esther listened when the eunuch told her how to dress for the king. More than enhancing your physical appearance, dressing reflects the countenance of your spirit.

All the fruit that Solomon raved about with the Shulammite woman should be evident in your life as the fruit of the Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit what you should wear daily in terms of attitude as well as what you should put on your body.

The bottom line is that we can all stand to improve ourselves. Change should be viewed as a positive adventure.

Pleasing the King
Don’t consider losing weight, changing your hair or even finding trendier clothes in order to get a man. Instead, take on each of these challenges as self-improvement steps toward being the best you can be for you and for the one who loves you most: the Lord Himself.

Being in good physical shape pleases God because you are taking care of your temple, His creation. You represent Him every time you walk out your door.

Trust me, God has great taste. So if you aim for catching His eye, the right man will be unable to resist you.

Beauty is hard work because it comes from within. Too many of us paint the outside without dealing with the inside, and it mars the finish every time.

God wants the man He places in your life to love you inside and out. But as long as your focus remains on you and your attributes, you will miss it.

The beauty in all of us is not our own. It is only as we release the beauty of the Lord that we are transformed from ugly ducklings into exquisite creatures who capture the hearts of those looking for a safe haven in which to rest.

“From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” (Ps. 50:2). God is the finisher of our beauty regimen. Without Him we are mere mannequins standing in the window of life.

No man wants to touch a mannequin, but a godly woman—that’s another story. A man knows that this is a woman he can trust with his heart. And a safe haven for all he holds dear will always be the most beautiful sight of all.

By Michelle McKinney Hammond.

Let the Pain Go.


girlinthought-prayEvery woman has endured one kind of heartbreak or another. We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of betrayal, and we’ve grieved over the difficulty of getting past it.

As Christian women, how do we process the hurts we go through? And where is our God in the midst of them?

In the book of 2 Samuel, King David’s daughter Tamar suffered an unspeakable violation at the hands of her brother Amnon, who afterward, rejected her and cast her away.

The Scripture says: “Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing.

She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” (2 Sam. 13:19, NIV).

Imagine how this tragic scene might have played out.

Tamar’s weeping came from the depths of her soul and ran through the canyons of her entire being.

Clutching her torn garments to her breast as if to reserve the last shreds of her dignity, she made her way across the courtyard.

The ashes with which she had covered herself were a silent witness to the stain of violation no tears could wash away. Nothing could. If she took a thousand baths, she would still feel unclean (see 2 Sam. 13:19).

Tamar was empty, spent, a prisoner of her own despair. She could still feel her half-brother Amnon’s eyes glaring at her with intense hatred. Still hear his words ringing in her ears, “‘Get this woman out of here and bolt the door behind her'” (2 Sam. 13:17). “This woman! This woman!” She had been deceived and raped, but being reduced to just another woman in her half-brother’s eyes was more than she could bear.

The sounds of her suffering carried on the wind, drawing the attention of her brother Absalom. He came bounding from his house to see what had so devastated her.

Absalom said to her: “‘Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.’

And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman” (2 Sam. 13:20).

She felt so ashamed as she shared her plight with him. Would he blame her for this? Would he say that she had done something to entice Amnon? The thought of his name caused her to shiver in repulsion.

She thought Amnon liked her. She had caught his gaze many times when he did not avert his eyes quickly enough to conceal his longing.

It was inconceivable that he had such evil intentions toward her.

Though they did not share the same mother, the blood of their father, David, joined them together in a familial bond that could not be ignored.

Now it was too late.

Amnon’s “love” had changed to hatred.

As a matter of fact, he hated Tamar more now than he had ever loved her.

Now he cast her aside carelessly, as if he had never known her at all.

Now where could she turn? Who would come to her defense? No one had been present to hear her cries, to witness this travesty.

Absalom could only clumsily comfort her by suggesting that she should not take this matter to heart.

Though Absalom did not accuse her, his attempts to calm her did not repair her shredded soul.

How could she not take it to heart? The inner core of her being had been brutally invaded. Her very soul had been ravaged and left for dead.

Yes, a part of Tamar had died that day.

It did not come back to life when, after several years, Absalom avenged her by killing Amnon.

His death could not console her devastated heart.

And as she wandered the halls of Absalom’s house, day in and day out she resigned herself to believing that only the night and her dreams would give her relief from the desolation that had taken up residence within her.

HURTING PEOPLE, HURT OTHERS

Men are mandated by God to treat the women in their lives with respect and honor. They are called to protect and cover us.

However, the heart of fallen man does not always heed the call of the Spirit.

When flesh rules, men and women alike fall prey to selfishness, impulsiveness, impatience, lust, covetousness, manipulation, strife and every evil work.

The cycle of violation that follows sinks the soul into deeper and deeper depravity, wreaking more and more destruction on others not aware of the pain of the offender.

Whether it is an abusive mother that builds fury in the heart of a young man, a father with a perverted sense of affection toward his young daughter, or some other past relationship or painful incident, no one knows the motivation of one who violates and damages another person’s heart, body or spirit.

There is no such thing as a small or insignificant violation or offense.

One cannot compare violations to rationalize which will cause less or greater damage.

The bottom line is the pain is a large reality to the person who has been victimized.

To try to explain away the pain or attempt to put it in any type of context is to demean the one who is already struggling to make sense of the occurrence.

Though the pain is the same, the circumstances can be different. One can be raped emotionally as well as physically.

A person’s heart can be violated by the misinterpreted motives or deceptive actions of another.

The wound can sometimes be deeper than if a physical act had been involved.

Ruptured trust can give birth to fears that can grow and overwhelm its victim.

In their mind, a thousand “whys” remain unanswered.

There may never be a visible rhyme or reason behind actions of abuse, rape, betrayal, emotional battery or adultery.

Emotional devastation can go deeper than physical abuse, simply because it can be more difficult to locate the source of suffering in order to deal with it.

Neither party walks away unscathed by these painful encounters.

Regardless of what the eyes see, both people pay; both lose pieces of themselves.

Those who inflict pain on others are usually weaker than those they violate and have no knowledge of how to extract themselves from the prison of anger and pain they find themselves bound in.

The antagonist who never suffers the consequences of their actions comes to believe that there are none.

Which in the end only serves to increase their pain because their abusive behavior is a cry for help.

However this knowledge is usually lost on the victim who is trying to recover from her assault.

Both the perpetrator and the victim become people with the potential to hurt others over and over again until the root of their anger is addressed and done away with.

Such is the cycle of unresolved pain. Yet the power of God’s healing is always available.

RECOVERY IS NEAR

In order to embrace the One who comes with healing arms to comfort us, we must first extricate ourselves from the offense.

We will never forget the experience, but we must choose to understand (this does not mean justify) and forgive the one who has wronged us.

If we allow ourselves to become prisoners of unforgiveness and bitterness, we are sentenced to live a life of seclusion, self-loathing and hopelessness.

How do you begin to forgive someone who has hurt you? Do you begin sifting through your pain to find the one grain of rationale that could excuse the other person’s behavior?.

Sometimes there is none. What does one do then?

We have all heard that hurt people hurt other people, and this is a fact that is resoundingly true.

It must also be noted that if someone truly loves you, they would never seek to hurt you on purpose.

Yet, loved ones do offend, they do jolt us emotionally, shock us, dismay us and sometimes even violate us through shattering the things that are nearest and dearest to our hearts.

Your body, your mind and even your self-esteem can be dealt a blow from which you feel you will never recover, but recovery is just a choice away.

The gift of free will that God gave to us is more powerful than we know.

Many of us have not exercised the greatest reaches of its capacity to bounce back, overcome and even forgive.

Forgive even when you are right and the other person is wrong.

The truth is that forgiveness has nothing to do with who is right or wrong.

Forgiveness is a free agent.

It is not attached to reason or agreement or even understanding.

It is however attached to wholeness and to your healing and liberation.

Unforgiveness is a prison.

It slams the door on new beginnings and entrenches you in your present pain.

It chains the heart and stops it from beating.

It suffocates joy and paralyzes your ability to move on. Unforgiveness is the cancer of the soul.

It slowly eats away the marrow of your existence and impairs your judgment, your personality and your ability to love again.

The desire to want to hurt the person who hurt you can be overwhelming.

We want them to feel the torture we think they deserve.

“How can he act as though nothing ever happened?” We ask.

“It’s not fair! Where is God in all this? Is there no justice!”

Yes, there is justice.

But justice comes only after we have released our offender into the hands of the One who is solely in the position to judge.

RELEASE THE OFFENDER

Only God knows both sides of the story.

The fears, the past wounds, the generational conditioning, the weaknesses, the insufficiencies of character and integrity.

He knows the things that we failed to notice—the things that should have warned us to guard our hearts.

Only God knows the hidden motives and unspoken regrets of the one who hurt you—their sickness, their brokenness.

The assumptions we make usually do more damage than the truth:

“He doesn’t even notice how much he hurt me!”

“How could he be so cold?”

“How could they just ignore my cries for help and walk away?”

“Doesn’t anyone see my pain?”

Our imaginations can be unmerciful.

Trust me, it’s never what you think.

Your guesses will always be more cruel than the reality of what really transpired, adding unnecessary injury to insult.

You must let it go.

You need to forgive, not for the sake of the one who hurt or violated you—for your own.

It’s time to redirect your focus and move on.

And you won’t be able to do that if you continue to nurse and rehearse your anger, the many wrongs done against you, all the reasons why.

If you can’t forgive for your own sake, forgive for God’s sake.

He needs your hands open in order to bless you. Cooperate.

The one who wronged you does not deserve so much of your time, energy or attention.

Your fixation is standing in the gap between that person and God, shielding him from conviction.

Move out of the way.

Free him to receive the proper correction from God.

Free yourself to receive your healing.

Forgive because you need to be forgiven.

How can you expect what you are unable to give yourself! Forgive my dear sister, because you are not alone.

We have all been prisoners of our unspoken pain and suffering. So come and join us on the other side.

Choose to forgive because it is what God requires of you, and it is what is best.

He will help you to forgive from your heart and not just from your head.

Ask Him for strength to release your offender, for to release him (or her) is to release yourself.

Trust God to free you from your anger and your pain and from all the questions that continually assault your mind.

Let Him speak words of comfort to you and assure you that He has taken heed to the things that have transpired.

Although you may never forget what has happened, He will enable you to forgive even as He has forgiven you.

By Michelle McKinney Hammond.

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