Get ready for a 12 part series, y’all!
A couple of weeks ago, my sister sent me an Instagram story that Kayla Tuckerman Photography had posted (@kaylatuckermanphoto) saying she was looking for people to model the shirts for Jordan Lee Dooley’s new merch. My sister had done her college graduation pics with Kayla, and they were stunning so I messaged her. After some back and forth, we set a date!
If you don’t know who Jordan Lee Dooley is, she runs Soul Scripts (@soulscripts & @jordanleedooley) on Instagram and is a Christian blogger and speaker. And y’all- she speaks some TRUTH. She is wise beyond her years and has the ability to set people on fire for Jesus. I was SO pumped when I found out she was doing a year-long bible study program for women but was hesitant at first. I’ve watched her YouTube videos for a long time, but I know myself. I’m not the kind of person who is good at sticking to online things (the teachers of my online classes can vouch for that-yikes). I tend to stick to it for the first couple weeks and then it slips my mind and soon after, I’ve totally forgotten about it.
My little sister Caroline and I were talking about the program because I had asked her to be in the pictures with me, but we both weren’t sure if we wanted to do it. A couple of days later, I asked her again if she thought she was going to do it and she said that she was. She felt like the Lord was telling her that doing this project would really help her heart and prepare her to become a better version of herself. After hearing her say all that, I knew I had to sign up too!
I went up to Orlando to do the first session together, and we had a great time sitting out in the park listening to the talk on Identity. Even now, I can’t help but think about how good the Lord is to put Caroline and I both in the same season at the same time. Having someone who intimately understands what you’re going through and is looking for answers in the same place is such a gift! I remember dreaming in high school that my big and little would be amazing, kind, God-fearing women who I could go to for anything and He really provided. Caroline, I stinkin love ya!!
So, here we go. I’m not going to try to sell you on the project because that’s not my job and I honestly think it sells itself. What I am going to do is tell you what I’ve learned in just two short weeks with this project and where it has taken me so far.
Each month of the project is centered around a different theme, with month one being Identity. I don’t know about anybody else, but I find it stinkin hard to always put my identity in Jesus. Always have. It’s really easier said than done for me. Truthfully, a lot of the time I find myself saying that’s where my identity is until I truly sit down and analyze where my identity lies. With something as big as identity, fake it until you make it doesn’t work.
Just as faking it until you make it doesn’t work, it will also undoubtedly fail to put your identity in Earthly things. Everything on this Earth is fleeting. Relationship, jobs, achievements, performance- they can’t last for an eternity the way a relationship and identity in Jesus will.
There are 3 common things that women tend to put their identity in:
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely one of those women. When I take time to analyze where my identity truly lies, it often falls into one of those categories. Sad, but all too true.
Oh, boy. Literally. I have a bit of a rocky history with dating, and I definitely tend to get too attached to my relationships. I also seem to have a not-so-pleasant trend going in my life of being cheated on. And to be honest, I usually end up blaming myself. Even if it’s a seemingly good Christian guy, I just can’t seem to be enough. Everyone has their own opinion on what happened and what should and shouldn’t have been done, and people just looove to share those with you. You’re your own worse critic, but that doesn’t mean criticism doesn’t hurt. And let me tell ya, all of that combined leaves a heck of a wound people.
Now I’m not saying that I am in no way responsible for any tarnishes on my dating life, as I’m sure some of it is self-imposed. I am not claiming to be the “perfect” girl who gets the short end of the stick all the time but holds no fault. What I am saying is that it’s a lot easier for relationships to fail than it is for them to work.
After watching week one, I realized how much of my identity I placed in being a “girlfriend”. I am an Enneagram 2 (check out the Enneagram website to find out more about what this means and to find your number!). If you know what that means you’re probably saying “Oh yeah shoot that makes sense” right about now. And you’re not wrong! I thrive on being a care-taker and putting others before myself. As much as I like (and sometimes even need) to be taken care of, I won’t ask for it. I am always on-call to help my partner and expect them to show up and do the same for me without asking. I love to be needed. So not being “enough” for somebody….well that’s probably one of my biggest fears. Remember how I was saying I wasn’t perfect? Yeah, there you go. My weaknesses. On the internet. For everyone. Accountability? Just dumb? We’ll find out.
But here’s the thing. Placing my identity in relationships, especially dating relationships, is so far from how I was designed to live. I was designed to know Jesus intimately and have a relationship with him. Jesus does not see me and judge me based on what relationship I’m in. He doesn’t look at me and say “That’s Sydney, ______’s girlfriend”. He looks at me and calls me His daughter. Redeemed. Loved. Cherished. Worth dying for. Jesus never looks at me and says “Look you’re great but I just want this other person more”. He pursues me even when I completely turn my back on Him. He wants me when I don’t want Him. He finds me every time I run and hide and brings me back into his arms. And isn’t that what I wanted the whole dang time?
So, here’s what it comes down to: Am I letting somebody else’s opinion change my identity? I know I belong to Jesus. Why would I want to belong to anything else? Why would I think about my relationship 500 times more a day than I think about Jesus? Why do I look to earthly relationships for things I need from Jesus?
I belong to Jesus and I want my identity to lie there. So, just like I would put time into caring for an earthly partner and building an earthly relationship, I need to be doing that with Jesus. Yes, Jesus will never leave me– but that doesn’t mean that a relationship with Him is one-sided. Just like any other relationship, it takes two.
I was on the swim team for 10 years, and I LOVED to get to stand on that pedestal. In fact, I exclusively did sports that got individual prizes for performance. And I loved them. Just like I love to be wanted, I also wanted to be the best at what I did. Who wouldn’t?
Well, here’s the thing. I put too much value on being the best. I came to see “Sydney, Swim Team Captain” as part of my identity instead of just something I did because I loved it. And when my tenure as captain ended, I was heartbroken. I know it sounds dumb, but it really was important to me!
Here’s what I’ve learned about placing your identity in status– it’s useless. As the women of the She Refined project put so beautifully, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross”. No matter how high you climb in your current job, how much money you make, or what people think of you, when you stand before Jesus there is no first and second place. The ground is level.
Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to do well and succeed where you can, but simply that your identity shouldn’t lie in those things. You shouldn’t value those things as the most important thing in your life. They are fleeting and can change at the drop of a hat. Jesus will always be constant, and will always love you no matter what status you have.
I’m not sure if that will hit anyone as hard as it hit me, but dang. I felt this pressure to be the best and excel just lift off my shoulders and that is the best kind of feeling. Status changes so quickly– put your identity and dependence in a Jesus who has never changed.
I don’t think it’s wrong to assume that everybody wants to be considered beautiful. Beauty is something that society values so highly, and in the age of Instagram it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparison. I could go on about beauty forever, but I’ll just sum it up by saying this. True beauty comes from the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Physical beauty fades with time, but beauty that radiates from within remains beautiful at any age.
Now, let’s be real. We all have insecurities. But what I learned is that there’s something different between an insecurity statement and an identity statement. An insecurity statement says “I wish my stomach was flatter”, but an identity statement says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Father”. The identity statement sounds a heck of a lot better to me, and that’s definitely the one that I want to be repeating in my head. The She Refined project has you fill out this worksheet that has you write statements of truth next to your insecurities. It might sound cheesy, but it is so powerful. To see what Jesus says about you next to what you say to yourself is shocking, and it makes you realize how hard we are on ourselves. We could really cut ourselves a break, and learn to be loved where we’re at.
Another thing that was so powerful to learn is the difference between stewarding your body well and obsessing over your body. Stewarding your body says “This is the body the Lord gave me and I want to nourish it with good foods and exercise”, and obsessing over your body says “I hate the way I look so I’m going to eat a salad and go for a run and hopefully that makes me hate it less”. Stewarding your body is a lifestyle that leads to happiness and a healthier temple for the spirit. Obsessing over your body brings resentment and pressure that isn’t going to be fruitful.
I definitely value my beauty. That said, I want to be a woman who stewards her body well and values her inner beauty over her outer beauty. Day by day, I am trying to make that lifestyle change. And I have Jordan to thank for that!
So, here we are. That’s what I’ve learned in just one month of the She Refined project. If you’re even considering doing the project, I would urge you to sign up. It closes at the end of the night tonight, so if this post is what you need to push you over the edge, I am so glad! You can sign up here! Nobody ever regrets spending time with Jesus. Invest in yourself!
Photography is all Kayla Tuckerman Photography
Shirts are Soul Scripts
*This is an unpaid post and all opinions are my own!*