“How I forgot to be who God had planned for me to be – and my struggle back to reality.” The words are written at the beginning of a 17-page testimony my mom penned in October of 1999 – just 4 short months before she died from the ravages of breast and bone cancer. The story was tucked in a brown envelope, in a non-descript binder full of poetry – a binder with a simple dedication at the front: “to Ronne, with love, from MOM.” This morning, as I rummaged through some boxes in a closet looking for god-knows-what, I found it. I had read the poetry, but had never opened the envelope before.
A few days ago, a friend confessed a fear on a Facebook thread. She said the fear of not measuring up to others threatened to paralyze her – and the fear of not being pretty enough held her hostage. I quickly responded with encouraging words, sharing my own past demons of inadequacy that screamed their loudest during the days when I modeled professionally. Every monthly weigh-in determined whether or not I would get bookings. My comp card featured not only my name but my measurements and height. Every modeling gig paid bills and put food in my son’s belly – essentials for a single mom who was the sole provider. But the pressure to look beautiful took a damaging toll. My words to my friend reminded her of her truth worth and beauty – something I said I had learned to embrace. But they may not have been completely true.
Because I still battle those demons.
The voices aren’t as loud as they used to be, but they are still there. I embrace my laugh lines, but shudder every time I put on a swimsuit and see the legs that lost their beauty due to bulimia. I style my hair and see the silver-grey reminders of time that is passing far more quickly than I would have ever imagined. And in the media, I am presented images of Michelle Pfeiffer or Christie Brinkley or some other woman in her ‘50s who has not a sag or wrinkle. And it’s much more than the physical. The voices make it easy to believe I will be passed over for those who are younger, brighter, smarter, cooler, more spiritual, more talented, more anything-other-than-me-because-who-would-really-want-me. Yes, those voices are there. The voices that want me to forget how to be who God had planned for me to be.
Those voices spoke to my mom too.
I knew how to be glamorous and act brilliant about most everything. I could dress in my great-looking gowns, and because most people thought I was good-looking, I could stand with the best of them…the greater I got at playing the part of someone else, the more fearful I became. I was dying inside.
But here’s her reality – a reality she found when she embraced the true beauty of her gifts, her talents, her personality. A reality she walked as she lived out the last years of her life, a widow caring for and feeding others as an in-home healthcare provider (something she didn’t think had any real value at all when she did it as a homemaker and mom).
It’s alright for me to be the person that God created me to be. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. This is my gift from God and I will be that person…the greatest thing that a man could ever do in this life is to be what God has already made you to be. To build cities is a great thing. But maybe the greatest thing ever is to just be yourself…to close your ears to that reality is like denying life itself.
And that reality is – and is becoming – my reality too. Maybe the god-knows-what I was searching for today was really God-knows-exactly-what I needed. Hearing my mom’s voice encouraging me to stay the course, to embrace my God-given gifts of leadership, teaching, exhortation, and wisdom – and let my personality shine through the talents God’s offered. For mom, it was tending to and feeding others who couldn’t care for themselves. For me, it’s in pouring into lives through teaching and losing myself in stories of redemption – and finding my own redemption in the process.
When my friend shared her fear, something came to life in scriptures I had read so many times before. Philippians 4:6 was the first scripture I ever memorized – about praying rather than worrying, and being thankful. And what followed was the list of things to ponder. Beautiful things. True things. Admirable things. Things I had made a point to focus on – for everyone but me. Now I read the list in the morning as a prayer for each of us on this journey, that we’ll see with clear eyes the things in our own lives that are true, honorable, reputable, real, grace-full, beautiful, worth celebrating. Because it’s in the seeing that we remember who God planned for us to be. It’s in the believing we can say “I will be that person.”
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
So what is it that threatens to paralyze you? What are you afraid of? What piece of Philippians 4:8-9 is hard for you to see in yourself? Oh, and by the way, my friend is confronting her fear head-on, and beautiful things are happening. You can read her post about it here.
16 thoughts on “I Will Be That Person.”
Wow. Thanks for that, friend.
Thank you for being brave.
Wow, just wow. I needed to read this. Thank you Ronne.
I’m glad the words resonate with you too, beautiful one!
Amen. This is so beautiful Ronne. Reminds me to remember Whose I am and who He’s called me to be, yeah to just, “be”
I’m so thankful He is faithful to remind us to breathe and embrace.
Excellen read, Ronne.
Beautiful, Ronne. Thank you for baring your soul like this so others can be blessed.
I’m learning that the more I just lean into the reality of who I am in Christ, the more I become unafraid to let that reality shine through. Thank you for your encouragement!
Ronnie, what I remember of you…is that I wanted to know who yoh were inside thanks!!!! Not only for the insite but you are what I thought, one of God’s Girl’s Go Sister!!!
Billy, the Lord was exceptionally patient with me back in the day, as I ran in a million different directions rather than straight into His arms. Thank goodness, He’s still patient with me as I learn to stay there.
I remember the evening I saw you at Dreamers & Builders The Neighbors Table dinner. I dont think we even talked but I remember you were So filled with life, playfulness, heart, passion, and spirit. Thankyou, even in those brief moments and small encounters, your life, your smile, and the way you related to those around you exclaims (!!!) your stunning beauty. You inspire me.
That evening remains so meaningful to me. I remember you and your family – the love and grace you showed each other and the rest of the Dreamers sitting at the table. And it’s been wonderful to get to know you through your writing and photos!
I ran a stint in pageants and modeled for 6 years. The longer I did it, the worse my insecurity got. I finally quit after my son was born…but my agent wanted to represent him, too…it was an easy choice to say ‘no’. I didn’t want him to have to deal with the weirdness of that world.
Believing I am more than the sum of my mistakes and flaws changed how I saw myself. It really did become ‘If God says’, then ‘I am who He says I am…’
Yes Ruth, we are indeed so very much more. We are beloved. That word overwhelms me in its beauty – beloved.