Hey friends… every once in a while you come across someone who has a real message that deserves to be heard. Such is the case for Dawn Sutherland. Her message of hope and belonging is one that resonates with us all.
I’ve asked her to write something for us about the message of belonging. I think you’ll really be inspired by her words.
Once you’re finished reading… go check out her site for more inspiring articles and updates on her journey.
Here you go:
You are not alone. You belong. And, it gets better.
There I stood, in a sea of gorgeous, flowing blonde haired women, fake leather pants, skinny jeans, and waves of self-loathing. I was at a women’s conference in North Carolina as a leader in my church; and the other women there were breathtakingly gorgeous. I swear they looked like models and spoke like angels in this hyper-cool, hipster church. And there I stood with my black hair, tattoos, and curvy body wearing all-black and wondering why I ever signed up. I did not fit in, and I told myself, I had no place in leadership, in ministry, no credentials, and no hope at ever making a difference. Like so many other girls, I felt not good enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not rich enough, and not blonde enough to belong.
• Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are attempting to lose weight.
• 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. (DoSomething.org)
• 74% of women say they’re under pressure to please everyone (Girl’s Inc., The Supergirl Dilema)
• Only 11% of girls globally feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful (Dove)
• More than 40% of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass. (DoSomething.org) (Men want to belong, too.)
There is a reason that we feel this need to belong. It’s because we DO belong, but to something much greater than a middle school clique, a high school club, a mom group, or even a group of women’s ministry leaders or pastors. We belong to Him. The King of the Universe, the Maker of all amazing things, the One who placed the planets in the sky and hung each star calls us by name. Out of all the things He created, He calls us His greatest masterpiece. That’s you my friend, and that’s me! With all of our scars, our imperfections, our past, who we were, every mark, every bruise…they are all brush strokes in His painting of grace and forgiveness.
But He goes beyond forgiveness and gives us His name to carry. He has called us His own.
Pay close attention to what He says to His sons and daughters:
Isaiah 43: 1-4 MSG (emphasis mine)
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am GOD, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.”
See how much better it actually gets! Dear friend, if you are reading this post, know that you are more valuable than any diamond and more priceless than any gem. You are a son or a daughter of the King. You BELONG in His kingdom, set apart for a purpose. We have this longing to belong, because He has marked us with His love and nothing of this earth can fulfill it. Our longing is an eternal one, focused on the fulfillment of our destiny through Jesus. Your destiny is supernatural. Your destiny is marked. You belong.
Father, I pray over each person reading this post that they know they belong. In You we are whole. In You we are complete. I pray that wholeness overcomes our desire to try to be perfect, that our fear of failure pales in comparison to our desire to have a relationship with You. Empower each person reading this today and bring people into our lives who remind us of how awesome we are and remind us of our identity in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
To read more from Dawn visit her website and be inspired.