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Wonderfully Made

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
January 8, 2022 1:00 am

Wonderfully Made

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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January 8, 2022 1:00 am

Many girls and young women believe they are defined by their struggles and their worth comes from looks or achievement. On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Founder and Director of Wonderfully Made, and award-winning author, Allie Marie Smith will share her story. She says no matter what other voices may say, you have been lovingly and wonderfully made.

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Today, on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

She was a success. She had everything going for her, but inside there was a deep struggle she couldn't share. When I was in the hospital, as broken as I could be, all of these places and things that I had placed my identity in and my worth in were really stripped from me.

But the beautiful thing is it freed me to discover my true identity in Christ, that I am holy and completely loved by Him, that I didn't have to perform for my worth. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, a story about a young woman who didn't understand her own worth in God's eyes.

She made a decision that nearly cost her life. Allie Marie Smith tells her story in the book Wonderfully Made, Discover the Identity, Love, and Worth You Were Created For. We have it linked at our website, FiveLoveLanguages.com. You'll find out about that and more simple ways to strengthen relationships.

Just go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. Our host is author, counselor, speaker, Dr. Gary Chapman. Gary, part of the conversation today is going to deal with mental health struggles. As a counselor and pastor for decades, you've probably seen a few people in your office who have struggled with that with mental health. Well, it's an all too common problem today, Chris.

Many, many different aspects of that, of course, and degrees of severity. But I think many, many people can identify with having struggles in the whole mental area of life and tied often with the emotional area of life too, for sure. So I'm excited about our conversation today. I think people are going to find real encouragement as we talk with Allie.

Yeah. Well, let's meet her. Allie Marie Smith is the founder and director of Wonderfully Made, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teen girls and young women know their true value. She's an award-winning author, speaker, podcast host, certified life coach as well. She lives in North Santa Barbara County in California, where she loves surfing and adventuring up and down the California coast with her husband, Paul. Our featured resource today is her new book, Wonderfully Made, Discover the Identity, Love, and Worth You Were Created For.

You'll find it at FiveLoveLanguages.com. Well, Allie, welcome to Building Relationships. Hi. Thank you, Dr. Chapman, for having me and for having this conversation. It's such an honor to be with you today. Well, before we get into your story, tell us a little bit about what you feel called to do with your organization, Wonderfully Made. I like that title.

Sure. Well, our mission as a 501c3 nonprofit ministry is really to help teen girls and young women know their God-given value and live spiritually, emotionally, and mentally healthy lives. We've hosted 10 young women's conferences for over 10,000 young women and their moms and mentors. We also have a podcast for young women and the women who love them.

During COVID, we weren't able to do our events, so the suicide rate actually skyrocketed during COVID among teenage girls, about 51%. We began sending encouragement packages to teenage girls just to remind them that God loves them and sees them and has a plan for their lives. We also reach girls online through our blog, our short films, and social media. So, any way that we can really reach young women and affirm their God-given worth, we try to do that.

Well, it sounds exciting what you're doing and the numbers that people that you're touching, young girls and moms. Let's go back to your adulthood. Did you feel wonderfully made when you were younger? Well, I would say as a young girl growing up in a good home, I did feel loved and I did feel known and I even felt special. So, in a sense, I did feel wonderfully made. I also believed in God and I knew God had created me and that God loved me.

But at that time, I hadn't clearly heard the gospel and I hadn't given my life to Christ. So, I was pretty feisty and confident as a young girl, but really around the age of 12, Dr. Chapman, my confidence and my feistiness began to fade and I started experiencing unexplained feelings of unworthiness, sadness, loneliness, insecurity. Really looking back were early symptoms of what would become clinical depression. So, everything really changed for me around the age of 12. Yeah. Now, by the time you're 18, however, you were seen by others as being successful and people liked you. Everything seemed to be going right. Is that true?

Yes. On the outside, it looked like I really had the ideal life. I excelled in soccer and in athletics.

I got straight A's in school. I was part of the popular crowd and had friends, was accepted. I think my friends and my family really believed that I was fine and I was trying to fake fine behind my smile. But really, under the surface, I was really coming apart. What happened was two weeks after I graduated high school, I found myself in a deep, dark, and a debilitating depression, unable to eat, sleep, or talk.

And really, my body was alive, but there was really no life within me. And so, my parents admitted me to the psychiatric hospital. I really wanted to end my life. I was put on antidepressants and really sent home three days later to do outpatient therapy all summer long while my friends were out having fun and starting to decorate their dorm rooms. It was really not the plan that I had for my life.

What happened in June of 2001? On a gloomy June day, I grabbed my car keys and I snuck out of our home in Silicon Valley with one destination in mind. And that was the Golden Gate Bridge with the intention to end my life by jumping off. The pain was excruciating. I was deceived.

I really believe the lie that the world was better off without me in it. I thought I was a burden. And I thought this was the only way that I could end the pain. And I was driving my car to the bridge and I got really close. It was up in the distance and I was driving somewhat recklessly.

And my tire hit a curb and I got a flat tire. And I remember sitting in my car just paralyzed, not sure what to do, despondent. And there was a knock on my window and a silver haired, kindhearted man asked if he could help me.

And he called for roadside assistance. And I actually engaged in a real conversation with that man after not talking really for gosh, probably over a month at that point. I hadn't really had any real conversations with anyone. And my encounter with that man gave me a little bit of hope and I turned around and went home to my family. But that wasn't the end of my struggles with my mental health. That fall, a therapist recommended that I start college on the East Coast at the university that I was accepted to. And I was on medication and in counseling and the depression was starting to lift a little bit, but it wasn't entirely gone.

And so my parents were trying to do the best that they could. And so away I went to college and it was extremely overwhelming. I stopped taking my medication. I got into very dark in a very scary place. I was very confused.

And I remember reading Gilgamesh in the library. And all I could think about were the train tracks behind the library. And about just, what if I just went back there and just ended it all? And so I was very depressed. I had to be flown home and I was readmitted to the psychiatric hospital in September 2001.

I actually saw the Twin Towers be attacked from the TV room of the hospital. And Dr. Chapman, I was as broken as a girl could be. And the beautiful thing is though, as Christians began praying for me in my family's life, I started to get a little bit of relief from the depression. And I asked for a Bible and I began reading it for the first time in my entire life. I remember poring over the gospels and seeing that Jesus loved the sick and loved the broken and came to offer them love and belonging and hope and healing. And one day we were taken to the hospital chapel and a woman who was in the hospital with me began to sing Amazing Grace. And in that moment, really the desire to no longer live was beginning to fade and was beginning to be replaced by the desire to live. And in that moment, through a whispered prayer, I turned away from my way of living and I surrendered my life to Christ. And I've never been the same since. I have had struggles with my mental health since giving my life to the Lord.

But today, by God's grace and with professional help and through living a healthy and a clean lifestyle, I am now thriving, free from symptoms of mental illness. And I just hope I can share a message of hope with young women and really anyone who may be struggling with similar experiences. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Our guest today is Allie Marie Smith, author of Wonderfully Made, Discover the Identity, Love and Worth You Were Created For. You can find out more and hear our program again at our website, FiveLoveLanguages.com. You'll find simple ways to strengthen your relationships right there at FiveLoveLanguages.com. Allie is the founder and president of the organization Wonderfully Made. And if you have a teenage girl or a young woman in your life, this is a resource that may help.

Again, go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. Well Allie, your sharing your story was powerful. And I think many of our listeners can identify you know, either they've gone through that or maybe they have a daughter or son for that matter going through that. As someone who has suffered self-doubt and depression, how did you discover what your life was meant to be?

Sure. Well, in high school, I really placed my identity in four things and being a competitive athlete and being an A student and being accepted by my friends and in my appearance. And so when I was in the hospital as broken as I could be, I had nothing impressive to offer. All of these places and things that I had placed my identity in and my worth in were really stripped from me. But the beautiful thing is it freed me to discover my true identity in Christ that I am wholly and completely loved by him, that I didn't have to perform for my worth. I love the quote by Brandon Manning that says, define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self.

Every other identity is an illusion. And so for me, it was a radical experience, but coming undone really was a gift because I found the love of God that forever changed me. And in that I discovered my purpose in life was simple. It was to live loved by God and to love others well, and to share Christ's love with other people.

Yeah. Well, in the process of finding your own identity, you've become passionate about helping teenage girls and young women know their God-given value and their identity. Why is this so important to you? Yes, I am so passionate about teen girls and young women and really helping them discover their true identity and worth in Christ. And so we know that about one in four young women today are wrestling with a mental health condition, whether that's anxiety and eating disorder or depression or something else. And really to compound this, girls are raised in a godless culture that tells them their identity and worth is found in their appearance and in their influence and in their achievements. And they're also really contending with the toxicity of social media, living their lives through their phones and the everyday pressures of life.

And so, as I shared earlier, during COVID, the suicide rate among teen girls went up 51%. And so our young women are really struggling, really lost, really confused, really hurting. And so I know personally from my story how hard it is to be a young woman alone, but to also be a young woman in our culture today. And I also know from my story and what God has done in my life that a better life is awaiting for them when they receive the help that they need and find their identity and value in God alone. And so I wholeheartedly believe that with faith and community and professional help when needed, any girl or young woman can really overcome their struggles and find freedom and wholeness. I hope that our listeners are hearing exactly what you just shared, the hope that is really there because when you're down, you don't see the hope, right? I certainly didn't when I was in the middle of it.

Yeah, yeah. Why do you believe that beauty and purpose often come from our brokenness? Well, I love sharing about a Japanese form of pottery known as kinstugi. And it's where the potter takes a piece of pottery that has been broken and shattered into many, many pieces. And instead of throwing that broken piece of pottery away, the potter takes all those shattered pieces and using a gold or a silver lacquer, mends them together into a new piece of pottery that is actually more beautiful and resilient than it was before it came apart.

And so rather than seeing the breakage as something to be despised, the potter sees it really as a history of the object that brings it beauty and depth. And so in the same way, God can take the shattered, broken pieces of our lives and mend them together. God can do beautiful things with a broken life. And our suffering isn't the end of the story. We know that God's eternal plan for us is good. Of course, our beloved verse in Romans 8.28, and we know all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And so in breaking, and the key part is in coming to God, we can actually become more beautiful. We might not look the way that we thought we would, but we can trust that God's eternal plan for us is good and He is our great Redeemer.

I love that picture of broken pottery being put back, not put back together like it was, but even more beautiful than before. Wow. Now, obviously, we have a role in that. We have to cooperate with God. So how do you fight for your mental health and what steps can others take to do the same?

Sure. Well, because I have struggled so severely in my life, I take my mental health very seriously. I personally try to do everything I can to stay well and to be well. And on top of that, I daily pray for God's mercy over my mental health, that I can continue to flourish and live well. So the first thing I do really is I live a very healthy and a very clean lifestyle. I've stayed, of course, from drugs and from alcohol, and I religiously guard my sleep. I exercise daily. I'm very intentional about the foods that I put in my body.

I make it a priority to get outside in God's creation, to do the things that bring me joy that I'm passionate about, such as surfing. I'm also very grateful for how God has used medication in my life. I used to experience a lot of shame and a lot of resistance. But for me, it has been a gift and not saying that everyone who struggles with their mental health needs medication.

But I take it with gratitude. I see it now as a gift, and I take my vitamins and my supplements. And as I'm putting them into my pill box every week, I just say a prayer of gratitude for these tools that help me live a better life, a healthy life. And then I also seek out really positive communities surrounding myself with positive friendships, family relationships. I'm always in touch with a counselor in case I need some additional support.

In case I need to make an appointment, I can call her and go in and see her. I also have several mentors and friends. And then a big one that has really helped me is continuously renewing my mind. And this looks like memorizing scriptures, truth declarations, and really practicing gratitude in my thoughts.

Just the other day, I kind of found myself spiraling. And I chose to be very intentional and really about my thoughts. And so I started to just list off all of the things that I'm grateful for. And so constantly renewing my mind. I really believe in neuroplasticity, the ability of our brain to be transformed as the Bible talks about, to create new neural pathways that are more beneficial ways of thinking. And then I'm also very intentional about identifying things, what I call are the weeds in my life, things that are maybe robbing me of peace and joy. Maybe it's a bad relationship or too much technology time and just being really wise about those and getting those out of my life. And so these are just some daily ways that I guard my mental health and that I pursue wellness.

I like the practicality of what you're saying. I want to say just a word about the medication part. You know, I'm running into some Christians who have the idea that the Christian should not take medication for depression, for example. But there is a physical aspect to depression, and medication can address that, right?

Absolutely. You know, I think as Christians, because we can't see it, we can't see our loved one's broken brain, like the way that we can see a broken arm, we can tend to spiritualize it. But there is very much a physicality to mental illness. And so I mean, I have, I know what it's like to be completely suicidal and depressed. And about six weeks later, after taking the right medication for that depression to lift and to actually feel like a normal person, I know God has used it as a good gift in my life.

I think our country may be overmedicated. Of course, that's another conversation. But for me personally, I can only speak to my personal experience. God has used it as a good gift to help heal me. Yeah, I think it's important to emphasize that, because I think some, you know, we take medication for other physical problems. And sometimes we think, well, you know, depression is a spiritual thing or an emotional thing, and medication can't help.

But it is a physical thing, as you've said, and medication can indeed help. Let me jump in here, Gary, and mention something that I also see, too, in the church. And that is, if you have a struggle like this, a mental health struggle, and you're getting help with medication, there's, as you said, Ali, shame.

You know, it's shame on you for doing this. Why can't Jesus help you? Jesus is enough. And so many people who struggle with mental health issues then are already isolated, because you're listening to the things that are going on inside you, and they're so loud. And then that pushes you even further away and compounds the struggle. Well, I can't share this in church, because then I'm going to get, you know, people who are picking me apart or giving me a verse that says you can't do this. So, Ali, how does the church come alongside, even if you feel like, you know, we're overmedicated in the country, how does the church come alongside somebody who's struggling? Well, Chris and Dr. Chapman, I'm so glad that we're having this conversation. And I want to thank both of you so much for really being shame breakers for people who do struggle with mental illness and their mental health.

I think having conversations like these are just so important. And I think there are churches now that even have specific ministries dedicated to helping people with their mental health, having conversations. And I think if more people within the church, beginning, of course, with church leadership can really educate themselves, because it is, it's a very hard thing to understand unless you've been through it yourself or you've watched a loved one struggle. And the reality is we are all impacted by this. I mean, someone we know ourselves, someone we love has been affected by mental illness.

About one in five U.S. adults have mental health issues. And so I just think having these conversations, creating spaces, ministries, creating awareness and understanding just can really help so much and help us stop spiritualizing it. I mean, yes, we are spiritual people and there are spiritual components to it.

But like we talked about, there is a physicality to it and we can't deny that. Well, I really appreciate what you're saying and hearing it from someone who has been through depression. You know, I hope our listeners are identifying with what you're saying, because yes, there is a spiritual dimension, no question about that. But God often uses people to help people and God often uses medications to help people.

And when we realize that, we don't pull away from something that God has designed to help us. So I really appreciate your sharing that as well. We hope today's broadcast is encouraging to you. Tell a friend about our program that can hear the conversation with Ali Marie Smith at fivelovelanguages.com. Dr. Gary Chapman is our host, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our featured resource today is the book wonderfully made, Discover the Identity, Love and Worth You Were Created For.

You can see it at fivelovelanguages.com. Ali, as we continue our conversation, what is one of the biggest lies that you believe girls and women buy into today? Well, I think as our culture has changed and social media has taken such a prominent role, I think many girls and young women really believe the lie that they must live out loud online and do big things. For young women today, the portrait of success often looks like a massive social media following and influence and influence can look like popularity and the ideal image in looking a certain way. And so I think today's girls think that they must be follow worthy and accomplish impressive things in order to have worth and value. But of course, we know God doesn't expect any of these things from us.

And in fact, he invites us to live very counter-culturally. I think of my grandmother, Mary, and my dad's mom. She endured the Great Depression and World War II, and she lived a simple and a hardworking life.

She was fully present and engaged with her own life. And her life wasn't fancy by any means, but it was a beautiful and a joy-filled and a faithful life. And I think really instead of chasing the world's portrait of success, God invites us to live faithful lives that really make the world better. And I like to tell girls and young women that there is a difference between being a social media influencer and being a woman of influence. Being a social media influencer is really about the idol of self. It's about vanity metrics, about likes and comments and sponsorships and the perfect image. But being a woman or a girl of influence is about impact.

It's about making a difference in the lives of people around you. And so for some girls in the world's eyes, our lives might look simple and they might look ordinary and they might not generate a lot of social media followers. But I like to remind girls and young women that God has written a unique story for them that is just as valuable as a girl who gets all the praise and attention. So I think girls and young women are really God's inviting them to live counter-culturally and pursue deep and meaningful lives.

I like that concept. And if we wake up to recognize it, the online presence is a very new thing. And thousands of people have lived without that beforehand.

And now it's become so predominant in influencing, especially as you say, young girls and young people and young adults. And now your book, I like the title, Wonderfully Made. What does it mean to be wonderfully made?

Sure. Well, I'd love to go back to our beloved Psalm, Psalm 139. I'm sure many of your listeners are already familiar with it, but just in case it's new to anyone, I want to share verse 14 in which David says, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. And it's just such a beautiful verse. The whole Psalm is just full of depth and beauty about how God knows us so intimately and loves us so deeply. And of course, I think it's important to remember that we didn't wonderfully evolve. We've been wonderfully made. We have been created and we have been made with great purpose.

And so to be fearfully, the word fearfully really means to stand in awe of, to be awed with reverence, respect, wonderfully inspiring, delight, extremely marvelous, good. It means knowing that we are believing full well that God created you with intention and purpose and wonder and beauty and awe. And I think one of the key parts of this verse is David says to God, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

He doesn't praise himself. He praises God for creating him. And when we have a high and a holy view of God, we have a healthy view of ourselves.

One that is neither insecure or prideful, but is powerfully confident in who God created us to be. And so being wonderfully made is not just about praising God for who he created us to be, but especially also for who he is. And this verse became so important to me. I still remember the day that I first read it when I was 18 after being in the hospital.

And it really became like an anthem over my life, pointing me to my true source of worth after depression told me I wasn't worthy of living. And that's why I just wanted every girl, every young woman, really every man, every woman to know the depth and the beauty of what it truly means to be wonderfully made by God. You know, I think when we see that, it changes the whole paradigm. And you know, in our culture, you mentioned earlier the whole concept that we are simply a part of an evolutionary scheme and we're really nothing more than animals, just a little more intelligent animal. If that's the view we take of ourselves, there's not much worth in that.

But when we take the view that the Bible has, and you've just shared, that we are made by the living God, you know, wow, powerful to perceive ourselves in the way God perceives us. Well, we've seen in the news headlines a lot about mental health and celebrities who are speaking out about their own struggles. Is it helpful to know that you're not alone in these challenges? Absolutely. I think for so long in our culture, we didn't really talk about mental illness and have conversations about mental health. Now it's really being normalized. You see it in the headlines all the time, celebrities, athletes sharing their stories. And so 20 years ago when I was going through my experience, it wasn't really even talked about then. And so I think, you know, in some ways we have come a long ways. And like I shared about nearly one in five people live with a mental illness. And I'm just really glad that we are starting to talk about it more in the church. And like I shared, there's even ministries dedicated to helping people who are struggling. And so I think it really helps people because when you're going through it, depression specifically, a nature of the illness is it is so isolating and it makes you feel so alone as though you're the only one who has ever had this experience. And of course we know that that is not true. And so I think it is helpful that we're having these conversations and people are sharing their stories and the stigma is starting to fade a little bit as we really normalize it. So I think we've really come, I think a long ways in a short period of time.

So I'm hopeful. To the young girls and young women who are listening today and they're hearing your story, maybe they're struggling now with this in their own lives. What would you just say to them directly? Because they're there, they're listening.

What would you say to them? You are profoundly loved and your life matters immensely. You are not as alone as you think you are. And your struggle is not your identity. And this isn't the end of your story. And God is a source of your true identity, value and purpose. And the world will offer you a cheapened life, but Jesus has come to give you life and give you life to the full. So I hope that you will seek after him wholeheartedly as you discover who you've really been created to be and are invited into a beautiful story. One that is about loving other people and serving God. And it's just a beautiful adventure and God can take whatever struggle you may be going through and he doesn't waste it.

He can use it for good and he can take all the broken pieces of your life and put you back together even more beautifully. Ellie, why don't you give your website where these young girls and young women can turn and just to kind of follow up with what they're hearing today. Sure. Our website is wonderfullymade.org and you can find information about the book, about our podcast and everything that we offer there. So we'd love to have young women, moms, parents visit us there. Yeah, I think it's great what you're doing. And I just want to point as many people as we can to the ministry that you're having now because someone who's gone through this speaks with a lot more authority than someone who has not gone through this. And so I want to point people to your ministry and just again, thank you for it. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find simple ways to strengthen your relationships at our website. Plus, see our featured resource by our guest, Allie Marie Smith. Her book is titled Wonderfully Made.

Discover the identity, love and worth you were created for. Again, find out more at fivelovelanguages.com. Allie, what would you say to a father who's hearing this and just doesn't know how to handle some of these difficult questions that he's facing and really his temptation is just to pull away and not be involved?

Sure. Well, understandably, I think the temptation for a lot of fathers is to do one of two things is either to disengage or to try to fix their daughters. And so instead, I would challenge the father to really spend time with his daughter and really speak her love language. And it is also really the role of a father, of course, to protect his daughter. And depending on what his daughter's situation is, it may look like implementing clear phone and social media boundaries for her to really protect her mental health. And we know that Instagram and other apps are highly toxic to teen girls.

And on that note, I really believe social media is the last place any girl should be who are struggling with with their mental health. And so it also may look like getting your daughter into Christian counseling and having difficult conversations with her. I think it's helpful to remember that teen girls and young women are looking for love. They're looking for significance, acceptance and belonging.

And the world can't fulfill these core desires the way God can and the way a loving family and a positive faith based community can. So I want to encourage any fathers with that is that you really have an opportunity to minister to your teen daughter and to meet her with these needs. And so I would encourage him to keep fighting for his daughter because she really needs him more than he probably thinks she does. So important for fathers to hear that, I think. Their role is absolutely important. You believe and you say in the book that there are two important steps women can take to thrive.

Tell us what those steps are. Well, a couple of years ago, my husband and I bought our first home. And in California, you don't get too much for your money here. So we have a tiny backyard. And so as a reluctant gardener, I realized that about 75 percent of my job was to pull these sinister weeds that were suffocating the life out of my native plants. And so I think that in order to really bloom and flourish, it can be helpful to think of our lives like a garden and to really do two things, pull the weeds in our life and tend to our own garden. And so often there are things in our lives that are sucking the joy out of us.

It could be a toxic relationship, an addiction or a habit. And so with God's help, we can ask for wisdom to identify what these weeds are in our lives. And then with his help to pull these weeds out of our garden to really help us bloom more beautifully. And then the concept of really tending to our garden is to invest in our own lives, to be present with our actual lives, to tend to our dreams, to be faithful with what we've been given, to steward what God has given us well, not to look over the neighbor's fence to see what's blooming over there. So I just think the principle of pulling our weeds and tending to our own garden can really help us thrive and flourish and bloom.

I like that picture, getting rid of the weeds and tending to your own garden. How can women go from being at war with themselves to being at peace with who God has made them to be? Well, I think every woman's journey looks different and I can mostly speak about my own experience. Of course, a girl and a young woman who was really at war with herself, you know, really believing the lie, the world was better off without me. And today I'm a gentle and a kind friend to myself.

I enjoy my own company. And so I do believe and know from my story, it is more than possible with God's help to go from being your own worst enemy to treating yourself with kindness and with dignity. And of course, inviting Christ into our lives, surrendering our lives to Christ is one of the first steps we can take to making peace with ourselves, because we know when we know God and we know our true value and worth, it changes everything. And so I love the verse in 2 Corinthians.

I think it's chapter three, verse 17. It says, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And so we know that the Holy Spirit is fighting spiritual battles for us on our half, breaking down the lies that we believe, replacing shame with love. And so I think the renewing of our minds is also another key way that we can be transformed, that we can rise above shame and the lies and go on to believe true things about God, about ourselves and about our future. And I think holding ourselves to a standard of grace and not perfection, you know, breaking up what I call it, breaking up with our ideal self. You know, for so long I had this ideal picture of who I needed to be and who I thought I should be and what I needed to look like. And that standard of idealism and perfection, it was keeping me self-focused, but it was also keeping me from the authentic life God had for me. Of course, receiving professional help for me personally has been key. And then just an overall commitment to treat myself with kindness and dignity that is really in alignment with my God-given worth and identity. So I just want to offer women hope that if they are feeling like they are completely at war with themselves, that God can help fight for you and lead you into a place where you experience more peace about who he created you to be and walk in truth instead of shame and in the lies of the enemy. You alluded to this concept of rather than being at war with yourself, to have an outward-focused life. What impact does that have on our wellbeing?

Sure. Well, you know, for me as a teenage girl, whether it was my depression or normal teenage insecurity or both, I was really, really consumed by myself and I wasn't able to love people well in my life because I was so inward-focused. When I was 17, something beautiful happened. I volunteered at a YMCA summer camp and I met Brian.

And Brian was about a year older than me and he had Down syndrome. And Brian taught me about the beauty of self-forgetfulness and how to live what I called an outward-focused life. He just made everyone feel so loved and important and was always looking to the needs of other people.

And I found myself just being completely at ease in his presence. And so I know from my own life that the more self-focused I have been, the more sick I have been. And so while there may be seasons in our lives when we are struggling and it's really hard to look beyond ourselves and it's hard to serve other people, we really have been created to live outward-focused lives. And so the more that we can rest in our God-given worth and look for ways to love and serve other people, the more freedom we experience, the more whole we feel. And so there is just great beauty in living this outward-focused life because it really frees us from the idol of self and our insecurities and our shortcomings and it puts our attention and our gaze on loving other people well. I think life's deepest meaning is actually found in serving others, you know, as representatives of Jesus.

And we're doing that and reaching out and looking for ways and means and people that we can minister to. We're going to have the greatest possible sense of worth and value in our lives. Well, Ellie, as we come to the end of our time today, what do you hope happens as a result of this book and your organization, which is called Wonderfully Made? What is your vision?

What do you hope is going to happen? I really hope we can see a generation of young women confidently walking in their God-given identity, value and worth. And I hope young women will come to see that the life God invites them to is so much better and more beautiful and more adventurous and what the world has to offer. And I really hope young women will believe that their struggle is not who they are.

It's not their identity. And believe that with Jesus' help and professional help when needed, they can really rise above whatever they may be going through, whether it's a mental health issue or another struggle. And I hope that they will really also come to know that not only their value, but to also be women who affirm the God-given worth in others and live meaningful and purposeful outward focused lives.

Well, Ellie, that would be my desire. And I thank God who's going to use this book, among other things, to help a lot of young women and young girls. So let me just thank you again for being with us today. And let me encourage you to continue the ministry that God has given you. Thank you. It's such an honor to be with you. Thank you so much for having this conversation and for your support.

We hope our conversation has given a little insight into the real struggle of mental health. And I think teen girls and young women are going to be helped by Ellie. Her website, again, is wonderfullymade.org. And her story is told in the book, Wonderfully Made.

Discover the identity, love, and worth you were created for. Again, Ellie Marie Smith has been our guest. You can find out more at FiveLoveLanguages.com. And next week, if someone has told you they're sorry, but you still don't feel they've apologized, don't miss our conversation. We'll talk about the five apology languages in one week. Our thanks today to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago, in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-30 21:29:15 / 2023-06-30 21:45:19 / 16

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