Your Pain Is Real


Yes, you. With tears in your eyes, waiting to spring. Or a lump in your throat and a heart that hurts. Or a million different thoughts that you don’t know what to do with. You.

You matter.

You are infinitely valuable.

And you, your pain is real.

No matter what anyone else has said to you or how many times people have tried to deny you of your words. Despite the lies that you hear everyday. Even though you feel lost and confused and denied. Your pain is real, it matters, and so do you.

What have people told you? Think carefully.

How were you hurt? In grade school. In grade 8. Last year. Yesterday. What did people say? What did you try to hide? What have you shoved behind in the garbage like a banana peel? What have you told yourself didn’t matter?

Because those are the things that do. Those are the things that should not be forgotten.


Almost a year ago, a professor sent me my Acting final exam marks and comments. He responded to what I’d written in my journals. When I write, I share anything and everything. And so, I’d shared a little bit of the pain that the scene had spurred.

I remember his response. He said that whatever had happened to me in the past was real. It had an impact on me. It should not be covered over or ignored.

I closed that email quickly, blushing, embarrassed at the feelings I’d shared. Yet I opened it just as soon to read it again.

Because my soul craved to admit my pain. I did not want to keep it hiding any longer.


You. Yes, you, again. Sitting there, listening, reading, wondering.

Are you still reading? I hope so.

Your pain is real. I’ve said it before, I know. But its true. And that’s why I’m repeating myself.

Whatever has happened to you in the past — whether it was ten years ago or yesterday — is important. It is real. It is part of you.

Do not deny it. Do not try to cover your pain.

Let yourself admit the scars of the past. Let yourself be healed. Find freedom.

Because you matter.

You are infinitely valuable.

And you — yes you — your pain is real.

Fail Boldly

My first memory of failure is from Grade 9. I failed a Science test. I’ll never forget the shame I felt. Like I was stupid, unable to do anything well, an idiot. That’s how failure made me feel that first time.

I think I was always kind of afraid of being a failure. I think we all are.

I spent high school watching my step and setting unreachable goals. And hoping I’d never fail again.

Then, I started university. And they told me that I had to fail to pass.

I don’t remember when they said it — whether it was during orientation, in my first acting class, or when I went for my advising session. But I know I heard this strange and impossible quote: Fail Boldly time and time again throughout September, October, November, and December.

I didn’t get it. Failure wasn’t good. I’d spent my life striving for just the opposite and I couldn’t imagine why anyone else wouldn’t.

Maybe they meant that you just had to be able to admit your mistakes and show that you were humble. Maybe failing boldly was just being able to laugh at your self. Maybe it wasn’t really “failure.” Perhaps it was just an artsy phrase or a figure of speech, I convinced myself and continued to hope for perfection. Because I couldn’t comprehend why anyone would ever want to fail on purpose.

I didn’t get it. My first monologue mark in the beginning of second semester reflected that. And I hated my work, felt like a failure, and considered giving up. I just couldn’t really, flat on my face, fail boldly.

The rest of the semester unfolded in a weird, tearful mess of beauty and growth. And slowly, I learned. I began to undo, to understand, and to fail.

I can’t explain it completely. But I do remember when I willingly failed boldly for the first time.

It was the end of March. The day had been bright and spring like. I’d memorized and learned and cried over a monologue for weeks. And now I stood, a bit breathless, a bit tired, a bit nervous, after the group audition, in the middle of the stage. I was alone and absolutely vulnerable. Right there, I lay one of my greatest hopes out and put myself on the clothes’ line. And as I opened mouth and began the text, I lay everything I had down and just let it go.

I had that actor’s moment where you don’t feel memorized and the words just slide out of your tongue as if you’re saying it for the first time. I stopped thinking about my audience or how I looked. I let myself be, for a moment. I felt a strange peace in my soul and my stomach, instead of the butterflies that usually reside there. I think I let the Holy Spirit in and it felt like He carried me on His wings.

And I think I failed. Boldly.

And I realized that failing boldly isn’t really what I thought it was after all. Failing is allowing yourself to be human. Its giving yourself the freedom to live and breath and let yourself move. Failing boldly is finding rest and growing and trying again. Its submitting yourself to the gift of Jesus and letting him take control of your life and future. Failing boldly is about grace and peace and life.

I don’t know if this is really what my professors meant about failing boldly. But this is what I learned when I tried. And as I think about this coming year, I hope to stay in this state, to tumble a bit, and fall on my face and then get back up again.

I hope you’ll try it too — failing boldly isn’t so bad as we thought.

You’re Worth More Than A Pair Of Shorts

I don’t like to wear shorts when I take the bus. Even if it’s boiling hot outside, I just don’t like it.

It isn’t because of the way the seat feels on my bare legs or because I never take the bus in the summer. Nor is it that the bus has amazing air conditioning either. No, it isn’t any of these things. Rather, it is because I think something bad might happen to me if I wear shorts when I’m traveling on my own.

Shorts make me feel extra vulnerable — even though mine aren’t “uber-short.” I worry about other people’s perception of me. I worry that guys will try to approach me and take advantage. I’m scared to wear shorts, even when the rising temperatures scream that I’m crazy to wear jeans because of what my culture, both Christian and secular, has taught me about men.

But I’m learning that this mindset is wrong. Plain and simply, it is destructive.

I don’t care whether you believe in modest dressing or not. I don’t care how Biblically sound your ideas are. I am not here to debate with you or argue over the value of modesty for Christians or dismiss your ideas and beliefs. I just want to say that a girl’s worth should not be rooted in how long her shorts are.

For a long time, I believed that dressing modestly somehow protected me. That if I wore higher shirts and longer shorts I would be a less likely victim. To be honest, I do not know what the statistics are for sexual assault victims*; however, I do know that what we wear as Christians or even as non-Christians, but as people, should never define who we are as human beings.

We live in a sex-saturated culture. I’m sure that’s clear by the advertisements and movies and music that we come across everyday. But contrary to popular belief, this fascination with sex is far from absent in the church. Oh no. It simply takes a different form at the altar. In Christian culture, sexual fascination takes on the form of legalized purity.

“But how can this be true?” You may ask. “After all, didn’t Jesus command us against sexual immorality?”

Yes, against immorality. But God didn’t tell us that our sexuality should somehow determine our worth.

In the Church, we’ve become fascinated with purity, particularly sexual chastity. While that’s great in and of itself, I believe we’ve taken it a bit too far. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that we’ll be saved based on what we wear or that there is no forgiveness for pre-marital sex or that sexual purity is the ticket to heaven; but that is the way that I believe some Christians have made God’s grace out to be. On the other hand, God calls us to love Him, first and foremost, and then to love our neighbour. Attaching a person’s worth to a clothing choice is simply not loving because we are whole people, worth more — much, much more — than a single clothing choice.

We were created in the image of God, our creator. Now, I’ll be honest — I haven’t always lived that idea out. I’ve spent my life critiquing others’ clothing choices and actions and monitoring my own. I haven’t always seen others as whole people, humans, created in the image of God for His glory. And I haven’t always seen myself that way either. But now, I want to change. I don’t want to see anyone’s — my own or another person’s — worth wrapped up in their chastity or lack thereof.

Because we were created for more. Much, much more.

We were created to love and be loved infinitely by our Perfect Creator.

We were created to serve God, create as He did, and bring about justice.

We were made to enjoy and live and work and build relationships.

Created in His image, first and foremost. That is our true identity.

You’re worth more — much, much more — than any old pair of shorts.

So now, let us live in the freedom and joy of Christ.

*Just so it is clear, I am NOT by any means advocating that “statistics” can show who is at fault. I firmly believe and know that a victim is NEVER at fault because of their clothing, words, or actions.

Today, I stumbled across this AWESOME post by an amazing blogger on modesty and worth. It is extremely well-written and insightful; she writes from this same perspective, though I think she conveys her thoughts much better than I did in this post. I encourage you to check it out!

The End Of Myself

“Bend your legs! Get down!” my prof told me. Timidly, I wobbled my legs a bit into a crouching position. “More! Don’t be afraid of your legs!”

I tried again. And again. And again.

He told me to do more things. To move in more ways. But I just couldn’t. I tried for what seemed like a thousand times, but every time, he’d tell me to do it again.

‘”Run around the room and scream!”

I ran. And tried to scream. But I could only laugh. Awkwardness, timidity, insecurity crowded my soul.

I’d asked my professor for help with my physicality as an actor. We were working one of Titania’s monologues from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’d told him yesterday that “I knew I could do it because I wanted to.” But just then, we hadn’t even gotten past the third line.

“I can’t do this,” I told him before we parted ways. “I’ll just never get it — all my life I haven’t,” I said through tears.


My pastor says that when we are at the end of ourselves we find God. Job was a the end of himself. Brought there through suffering and strife.

As Christians, we often see the end as something bad and to be feared. We stay in the shallow end or maybe on the sand, too afraid of the deeper waters ahead. We don’t like the word ‘end.’ But the end of ourselves is only the beginning when we know Jesus.


I held back the tears when I got home. I put on a flowy skirt and a tank top — clothing that made me feel like Titania. I thought it would help.

I went outside and shivered. Even late March was much too chilly for spring clothing.

There, in the comfort of my own backyard, I tried it again. I tried to move, alone, outside. But it was the same as before. I couldn’t. I fell down in a ball on the ground. The cold grass absorbed me and my tears and trembling limbs.

 I was at the end of myself.

But at the end of myself, I prayed. Prayed like I’d never prayed before. Prayed for something I never thought I could or would pray for.


Job lost everything. Everything he’d ever had or known. He was at the end.

But in that end, He found God. Not that he hadn’t known God before, but I don’t think he’d really known Him until that point. At the end of himself, Job saw God.


“That was wonderful!” My prof burst out, less then a week later, after watching me perform my monologue. This time it was complete with an active physical score; I was bold and daring beyond belief. I had moved fluidly and without shame.

I smiled hard. His affirmation tasted sweet. But even sweeter was the knowledge that I had reached my end and come back even more whole than before.

I recalled the beginnings of my monologue creation. I had laid on the living room floor after leaving the cold outdoors. I prayed on the ground, long and hard. And then I got up. And it happened. All at once. And looking back, I know that it wasn’t my doing at all. At the end of myself, I found the beginning of Him.


Vulnerability. Complete, utter, raw honesty. I dread it more than anything.

“Elizabeth!” the sound of my name, spoken by my prof awoke my mind’s childish nightmare. I had known this moment would come. Of course it would. But I hated it all the same.

The music played and I flitted across the room. Everyone else followed my ridiculous motions. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable beyond belief. A thousand memories from my life, in which I’d danced and utterly failed, punched me in the stomach. What am I doing here? I wondered.

We were dancing in Acting class today, in case you were wondering. It was called “Finding Your Character’s Physicality.” My prof put on some music, asked us to dance in certain ways, and then finally, made us lead. All of it begged for my vulnerability–something I did not want to give at that moment.

My scene partner and I rehearsed for almost four hours. We searched for that vulnerability for our scene. We even prayed for it. It’s funny because that is exactly what I wanted yet I was so terrified of actually finding it, that I blocked myself off in every way that I could. Sometimes vulnerability is the very thing that you truly need, but what you convince yourself you don’t want.

I don’t like to be vulnerable. Its embarrassing–just like dancing in Acting was today. Its painful–you have to open up a part of yourself that you’d really like to hide. And its scary because there is the fear that once you let yourself go to someone, that person is going to hurt you.

Tonight, I let a lot of that go. I didn’t want to do it. I kicked and screamed my way there. But it needed to be done because I realized that there is no real person or real relationship when you hold yourself back. Only a fake, uncomfortable body uttering things that don’t really make sense.

You see, I’m a classic at pretending. It’s not that I mean to lie or that I’ve never had a true friend before, but on a day-to-day basis, I’m not always real. It’s hard for me to be who I am, from the inside out, with everyone I meet. Why? Because I am afraid of hurt. I’m desperately scared to know what people see when they look right through me. And I am hopelessly frightened of being left behind. These are the fears I have when I look someone in the eye and talk to them. This is what I face everyday–the fear of vulnerability. The fear of honesty. The fear of relationship.

The funny thing is that I am not afraid to write. I never have been. I don’t care if a million people read this and know my fears, but saying it to your face would be a lot harder.

But I am going to change that. Step by step. I am going to say it to your face. I am going to be real. Ask you how your day has been. Actually give you a hug or a touch. Put you first and listen hard. Talk in a real voice and bare my real thoughts, emotions, hopes, and dreams. I am going to dare to be vulnerable—because that is where true relationships are at.

G Is For Grace

High school is behind me now, but I haven’t stopped learning, it would seem. Today, I spent a good chunk of time cleaning and organizing an overflowing box of schoolwork. You see, I’m not the most organized person in the world. Okay, I’m an absolute failure at organizing my stuff…especially papers. I kind of like to just relax and forget about things when I don’t particularly need them anymore. So, throughout the last two years, everything that I don’t really need anymore has gone into the school box. Consequently, the last few days have been spent sifting through Spanish homework, student aide lessons, English notes, and lots of Biology.

It was an interesting task, to say the least. I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but it did bring back old memories, good, bad, and unflattering alike.

My Biology brought the most thought, in the end. Oh, the Spanish I enjoyed looking through and made me dream about taking university Spanish classes next year. My teaching notes reminded me of the class I helped in and the future I may have in education. And of course, English brought a smile or two. But in of all that, I learned the most from the subject I know the least about… Biology.

Not to be a downer or anything, but I’m terrible at Science, Math, and anything technical. I’m extremely creative, as my project based Lit 12 class proved. I can write to save my life. I picked up Spanish pretty easily and was even able to teach it. But if you give me something technical like a fractions sheet or a chemistry lab, I’d rather get my eye brows plucked.

As I organized and slightly reviewed my notes on Meiosis and Mitosis, plant cells, and the urinary system, an aspect of myself that I’m not so proud of, unfolded before me. I am afraid of failure. In fact, I am so scared of missing the mark, that I run, hide, scream or do whatever is needed so that I don’t have to deal with my failure. But as a Christian, that is not the attitude that I am supposed to have towards Biology, school work, or my sins. Because Jesus is enough for my failures and I need to trust and let Him carry my load when I can’t.

But the truth is, I didn’t do that with Bio 12 and I don’t do that with most of my life. In my course, I received some A’s, lots of B’s, and a few C’s. And some of my marks were really, really bad. Actually, in addition to some super low C’s, I failed my first test by 3 %. Yup, I actually, officially failed. But really, my Biology scores are no different than my regular life as a human. God doesn’t grade us on our attitude, but I can garuntee we’d all fail more than one test if he did. 

Throughout my organizing, I found a lot of unopened envelopes. Like I said, I’m afraid of missing the mark and I literally run away from it. Since I was home schooled, my teacher sent my marked work through the mail and I had the choice to open it or leave it untouched. So, because I knew I wouldn’t be getting top scores all the time, I left a lot of them unopened, at least to me. My mom could open them if she wanted, but several times I wouldn’t touch my Bio marks. I was ashamed, just like I am of my sins. I didn’t want to look back at my failures because it showed me that I was unworthy, messed up, and fallen.

But isn’t it funny how that’s just not how God would look at failure? He forgives and loves us, despite our brokeness. And not only that, but He gives us second chance after second chance. God does not give up no matter how badly we miss the mark. And He wants to show us once again what is right. He encourages us to keep going and tells us to overcome our sins. When I went through my Biology marks, I found the envelope with the bad test mark. But because I’d wanted to run and hide and forget about my failure, I had missed the lesson. My teacher had sent that test back to me so that I could learn from my mistakes, but I had let my shame overtake me. God doesn’t want us to run from Him because of guilt.

The last envelope I opened surprised me. I knew before that I’d failed the first test and that my marks weren’t the best. I was aware of my failures. But this last envelope had not been opened by anyone–even my mom. It contained something different. I gasped when I saw that I had received % 100 for this Biology assignment! I was thrilled and I wished so badly that I hadn’t let my shame overtake me when it first arrived in the mail.

If we got report cards in heaven, we would all get 100 %, too. Even though we would have messed up and failed. Although we would deserve much less. Seriously, if God marked us on perfection we’d all get zeroes and my Biology marks would look good. But He doesn’t mark is on perfection — He accepts us with grace. And that is why the G on the report would be for grace and not good because of the grace that God has truly given us through His son.

If you’re hiding in shame and guilt today, please stop. If you think that God can’t love you because of past mistakes, that isn’t true. God always, always accepts and loves us for who we are… broken, messed up, but oh, so precious in His sight.

Forrest Of Lies

Sometimes I walk with a head that hangs in shame through a forrest of people who hate me. It’s a difficult road, full of thorns and twigs. And it’s dark in the forrest — so dark that I can’t find my way out. The forrest of lies consumes me until I want to cry.

In the forrest, I’m never good enough. I’m ugly, stupid, and not likable. No one wants to be my friend in the forrest of lies. Because who would want to stand next to a failure like me?

I’m bad and wrong in the forrest. I’m too ambitious for a female. In the forrest, they denounce what I want to do with my life and who I would like to be. I’m utterly wrong in the forrest. I can’t be successful there. My dreams of university and a career are scoffed at. I’m told that I need a man to do anything worth with my life. A man and a lot of kids. I am worth nothing in the forrest of lies.

I am sinful beyond compare there. My clothes are immodest even though I try so hard. Certain things I do and ways I act are just plain terrible. My actions in the past are unforgivable. I’m not good enough for grace in the forrest even though grace was made just for me. I’m never pure in the forrest of lies.

The forrest is demeaning, rude, and shallow. I do not like to live there and I will not let myself stay there any longer. It’s full of ridiculous expectations that I could never meet. Perfectionists without an ounce of grace pound my heart to pieces. And that is why I call it the forrest of lies.

But at the end of the forrest, there is a garden. It’s a perfect, beautiful place. I go there to be uplifted and refreshed. And in the garden, there is a gardener who calls me by name. Although He is perfect, the gardener doesn’t mind that I am not. For He has enough grace to share the beauty of his flowers with me. So I’ll leave this forrest of lies behind and go to the garden. Are you coming with me?

The Make-Up Trap

It was amazing in totally the wrong way. It was exhaustive and saddening to the core of my heart. With one look at that little glass bottle full of gooey “pretty”stuff, the insecurities came back. My beauty and confidence melted and the overpowering addiction for make-up returned.

It was a youth event two weeks ago. The boys were doing “boy stuff” and us girls were doing, well, “girl stuff.” We were supposed to have makeovers. Every one was happy about it and no one could really understand why I wasn’t. After all, make up can get rid of things like zits and pimples, bring out eyes, give a pale face colour, and make a girl beautiful.

As I sat there, watching each girl get her make over done by a professional, I wondered what I should do. At first, my resolution was a firm “No.” I’d made a promise not to wear make up for a year and I wanted to stick to it. But as I watched each girl go up and saw the fun of picking colours out and how they glowed when the artist was finished, I started to succumb. With a little make up, we could all look beautiful.

Suddenly, I became aware of every imperfection on my face. I thought of the skin I wished were clearer. I remembered the red spots and the zits I just couldn’t get rid of. I felt my chapped lips and recalled how my cheekbones could be more defined. Thinking of this, I felt ugly.

I knew that the foundation would wash away my zits. I remembered how a little blush could make my cheekbones look perfect. Make-up, I realized, could make me beautiful.

I didn’t want to believe it, but I did. I’d come to refute the lie many times, but now I gave in. I had been called beautiful and accepted myself and every girl as such, with or without make-up several times in the ten months. Still, I couldn’t help but think that all of the guys would notice me as the odd one out with all the other girls in make-up. No one would think I was beautiful today. Now, with the bottles of foundation and eye liner brushes staring me in the face, I let go of all the beauty, confidence, and joy I had every known. The make-up made me feel uglier than I had ever felt before.

I was trapped that night in the church room with girls getting their make-up done. I was trapped by the lies and misconceptions about beauty. The force of a world without true beauty imprisoned me. I gave in to Satan’s lies that He tries to get me and every woman to believe. I fell into the make-up trap and my beauty disappeared.

But then it hit me, that I was believing a bunch of lies. As quickly as the temptation had come, God’s truth brought me back. I talked to my youth pastor. I looked at myself in the mirror and remembered that God had made me beautiful just the way I was. I realized that if just looking at make-up made me feel ugly, how much uglier would I feel when it was on my face?

There is nothing inherently wrong with make-up, in my opinion. I think that it can be fun to experiment with from time to time and that it is OK to use on a regular basis. I still wear it when I am in a play and will probably use a bit for special occasions like Grad or my wedding day. However, when it consumes you the way it consumed me a year ago it is not healthy. If you can’t live without it and feel ugly when it isn’t on your face then make-up is an addiction, a trap, and something that needs to be cut from your life.

That night, when we all came downstairs, I was happy with my choice. No one noticed that I wasn’t wearing make-up. My youth pastor and a leader even commended my choice. And throughout the night, I felt free like I had the first time I swam again, because make-up did not ensnare me. I didn’t have to worry about it melting off of my face or smudging. Instead of worrying about how ugly I would look without make-up, I smiled in the fact that God had made me beautiful.

What is trapping you today? Is it make-up? Or is it something else? What is holding you from freedom in Christ? I encourage you to take it to God today and fight against any insecurity that is holding you down. With His love, you can conquer your greatest fears.