This is my story.
I had a wholesome childhood. I was raised in a Christian home, my parents homeschooled me and my two siblings (so I had a pretty close relationship with my family), and I grew up knowing that my father and mother loved and cherished me. I also knew my Father in heaven adored me and called me precious.
However, I always had this feeling that I was too much.
I felt too overbearing, too talkative, too big in personality, too emotional, etc. I felt like I was overwhelming to say the least.
The funny thing is, I also felt like I was not enough at the exact same time:
Not good enough, not selfless enough, not supportive enough, not knowledgeable enough. The list goes on.
This alone created an enormous amount of confusion in my mind and heart… how in the world could I be too much and too little at the same time?
How is that even possible?
I didn’t even know how to put this into words until I read Stasi Eldredge’s book, Captivating. She points out that one of the devil’s biggest accomplishments is convincing women that they’re too much and not enough at the same time. As soon as I read it, I thought to myself “That is SO true!!! How am I just realizing this?”
That was just one “ah ha” moment I had.
All my life, I’ve had these intense desires. And I have to be honest, sometimes I felt like they were really silly. Whenever I found someone who had the same desires, it was a relief. Like, “oh good – I’m not the only one who’s crazy.”
To lay this out upfront – my parents did the best job ever making sure I felt loved, cherished, beautiful both inside and out, as well as important. I have the best parents in the world, and I know I’m beyond blessed to be able to say that.
Even so, I still felt guilty at times for having these desires in my heart.
For one, I had a great desire to be romanced.
I wanted the fairy tale, and I wanted to be the princess. I still want that – it’s a huge part of my heart. But I always felt selfish for having these desires. I mean, how self-centered is it to dream up fairy tales and make yourself the heroine? I wanted to be WANTED. To know that someone out there wanted me and needed me. Specifically, a man. I read romance novels, replayed romantic movie scenes in my head, and listened to love songs. All the while, thinking to myself “I really want to be pursued, but I feel so horrible for wanting this – it feels selfish and arrogant.”
Another thing I wanted was to be beautiful.
I desired to be pretty… to look nice – not just on the inside (which mattered more to me), but on the outside as well. Growing up in the Christian circle though, we’re always taught to value the inside (your spirit) more than the outside, so I felt incredibly vain in my desire to appear beautiful on the outside. I didn’t want to draw too much attention to my being pretty or not, because that felt horribly wrong. Again, I felt guilty.
Lastly, I wanted to feel like I was important, or played an irreplaceable role in some narrative.
I think I struggled with this one the least, but I still felt funny about it sometimes. As a child, I would imagine myself as a secret agent or spy, and my performance was critical for the success of some great mission. When I got older, I liked thinking that I played an irreplaceable role in some of my relationships with friends or in God’s plan. I loved feeling like I was needed. However, these fantasies seemed rather strange sometimes and I would feel a bit silly for thinking that way.
I should note that although I used the word “want” in the past tense, I still do have those desires today; however, my perspective on those feelings has changed.
I discovered that all those feelings, the desires to be romanced, pursued, feel beautiful, and play a critical role as heroine in some grand plan, were actually woven into me as a woman. I was designed specifically to have those wants. There was, in fact, nothing wrong with me – I was made to be that way, and God had placed those desires on my heart for a reason.
The war I was facing inside was essentially me feeling like I had to reject parts of my heart that God had hard-wired into me. But I was supposed to feel these things…they were what made me, me.
That realization made me feel even more loved than I had ever felt before.
Not only had God placed those desires on my heart, but He FILLED those desires as well.
For a long time, I had simply thought of Jesus as a savior and friend, and that was very good! But when I found out that Jesus was also my lover… that made me stop and think. Really? Jesus loves me like a lover does? Wow… Suddenly, I saw His gifts everywhere that were meant to romance me – different flowers, a small voice telling me to take a new route so I would see a cute rabbit, sparkling water, sunrises/sunsets, prompts to listen to different songs (even “secular” ones), and so much more. My eyes have most definitely been opened! This realization has not diminished the desire to be romanced by a man, but it has given me perspective that Jesus is my ultimate lover and will always be that to me (even if/when I get married someday) because He is the only one who satisfies!
Unveiling beauty – I now hear my Heavenly Father telling me that I’m beautiful and pretty on the inside, but also on the outside. Before, I had the idea that those thoughts, the ones where I sheepishly thought I looked pretty, were from me and my selfish vanity. And sometimes, they are, but I’m getting better at distinguishing between my pride and my Father’s adoring voice and admiration.
Lastly, I feel ever more important in God’s grand mission. I feel called and special. I feel irreplaceable – playing my role as a woman – NOT a man or a woman taking on the strengths of a man, but uniquely a woman. It’s incredible.
To say this book changed my life is an understatement. I don’t know where I would be in my relationship with God and Jesus without it. Hearing and listening to his voice becomes easier and easier the more I listen.
A few years ago, I was praying, and I finally stopped long enough to hear a voice saying “so…..are you done talking? Can I talk now?” Not in a mean way, but in a playful, teasing, way.
I was a bit shocked as I laughed… Because I always thought prayer time “didn’t count” if I wasn’t saying anything, but then I realized that’s no way to have a conversation with anyone. So now, I give God time to talk, and I just listen. The things I’ve learned have been amazing.
You are special. You are irreplaceable, precious, and adored. The desires you had as a little girl, and have now as a grown woman, were put there by your loving Father, and He is inviting you to a deeper and incredibly real relationship with Him if you so choose to accept it.
Hope Szymanski is Head of Operations at a crypto currency startup. You can learn more about her story and how she’s stepping into the role God has uniquely designed her for here.