Friday, 26 February 2016

Don't call me SHY

‘Shy’ in the Thesaurus: afraid, apprehensive, cautious, fearful, hesitant, nervous, reluctant, timid.

I write this blog post from experience – as I do with them all.
Shy is a word I’ve been labelled with many times, especially when I was younger. The more I ponder it, the more baffled I am that people thought it was ok to label me with this particular characteristic. People make a deliberate choice to label others this too.

It’s a label that sticks. It’s a label that affects you in many ways. It’s a label of self-fulfilling prophecy.

And do you know what, ‘just pondering’:
Maybe it’s your presence that makes me feel uncomfortable and therefore quieten down. Maybe your company is so invading and intrusive that I just leave you to it and am happy to take a back seat. Maybe I enjoy observing conversation and don’t feel the need to always participate. Maybe I’m processing internally as opposed to externally. Maybe I’m content in who I am that I don’t need to show that outwardly. Maybe you label me ‘shy’ because of your insecurities with your own character. Maybe I just have different characteristics from you. Maybe, ultimately, I’m just totally different from you. 
N.B. Just ‘maybe’. I may be wrong, I’m sharing my thoughts for you to explore where you stand yourself.

We have to be careful with our words.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose” (Proverbs 18:21, MSG)
I carried ‘shy’ for so long that it started to define who I was and how I approached different situations. I would immediately cave inBUT now I have the choice to let the initial power behind the word 'shy' fall away: and it will.That’s not who I am. I’m open, I’m chatty, I’m passionate, I’m loved, I’m significant, I’m confident. I’m learning to own who I am. Love it. Embrace it. And carry on growing, learning and exploring. 
God's thoughts about you (and me) are bigger, truer and more powerful than your thoughts about yourself. And they are bigger, truer and more powerful than other people's thoughts about you. And where do we find out what these thoughts are? The Bible.
"You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something" (Psalm 139:15, MSG)
So – thank you that I can now relate to those going through a similar journey. And – please – think about the words you speak into others’ lives. They have power (whether they should or shouldn’t). 
I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Why I'm giving up Make-Up for Lent

A few months ago I was chatting with a lovely friend at college (you know who you are!) about make-up and how she doesn't wear any. I made the rash comment; 'oh well I might just give it up for lent, it's probs a good idea considering what I do with Belle'. 

It wasn't until 'bedtime' (yes I still call it bedtime) on Pancake Day that I was reminded of my comment and decided to GO FOR IT. So I decided that on the average day, for 40 days, I will not be wearing make up.

And here we are 4 days in. Since the start of lent I've done a belle workshop, been out for dinner 3 times (that's not a usual thing btw), spent time with family/friends/boyfriend and been shopping - just so you know I haven't been hiding away in a cave avoiding all contact with human beings. 

Here are some of the thoughts I've had so far:
  • Is it too late to back-out?
  • What if people think I'm ill or I haven't slept in days or something?
  • I fancy wearing lipstick today - wait, oh crap
  • I hate this
  • I can't fail because then I'd be a hypocrite
  • I wish contouring hadn't yet been introduced (even though I don't do it anyway)
  • At least my face is relatively clear at the moment (*touch wood*)
  • What if people treat me different?
  • Oooh I might buy this new eyebrow pencil - wait, oh crap
  • But doing make-up is my hobby - I miss my hobby
  • 40 days. That's almost two whole months...
So WHY am I doing this?

1. To prove that who we are isn't defined by how we look

We are more than our image. The fact I'm not wearing make-up doesn't make me any less myself. I'm still the laid-back, lacking common sense, funny because I lack common sense, smiley, caring Jessie that I am with make-up. 

I want to be more comfortable and confident in my own, natural skin. I want to still own, love and embrace who I am. And at the moment I feel like I'm comparing myself to others more than ever! So, honestly, it will take time. But that's why I'm doing this - it's important.
God doesn't called his 'masterpiece' (Eph. 2:10, NIV), dependent upon whether we're wearing make-up or not!

2. To be an example to young (or just other) girls

It was great to stand in-front of the girls at the Belle workshop and be 100% raw and real with them. I don't want us to be encouraging a culture of fake, filtered and fraudulent (i.e. would a stranger notice you in a crowd from just viewing your Instagram/Facebook profile pic - just a thought!) 

Checkout my other blog post 'Should I be short, fat and ugly?': I want this to be an example to all of those people who don't think I can lead Belle because of the way I look. 

I've already felt challenged by not being able to 'look my best'. Why is that? Is it just this need to impress? I'm exploring the 'why' behind the 'what'. Do all girls feel that they have to look their best all the time to impress? That's not ok: I'll explore it.

3. To see what God reveals to me during this time

I preached in December on 'idols'. Tim Keller: 'an idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give'

I figured that actually my image is something that I can all too easily slip back into making an idol in my life. To be sure that it's not at my centre, (despite how uncomfortable it feels), make-up has to go. I want God to absorb my heart and imagination more than concerns about how I look do. I want this to be a time of self-denial and thus drawing closer to Him who created me and knows me better than I know myself. I want my value, ALL of it, to draw from Him.

So, if you see me - let's chat about it. Tell me how you feel, I'll tell you how I feel. Let's be real and vulnerable. Let's open up conversation about this stuff.

I'll keep you posted on the journey.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Look Outside of Yourself

Something has been challenging me recently. 

The world is obsessed with ‘self’. It’s so focussed on self-love, self-acceptance, self-justification, self-righteousness, self-actualisation, self-denigration, self-righteousness, self-pity and self-centeredness.

We observe in the world such emphasis upon what we achieve, how we look, what we own, what we do, what we have; it’s all about ‘me’.

We live in this tension between the world and God. Yet, we can do something about it. 

I had the pleasure of attending the Bloggers Big Brekkie on the 28th January. We were invited find out more about the 'BIG BREKKIE' Campaign; seeing churches and families, young and old, across the UK getting their neighbourhoods together for a big fundraising breakfast. 

I was reminded of our duty to LOVE, our duty to SERVE, our duty to SHARE

Photo by Christian Aid
I was reminded of how lucky we are, yet how much life isn't about 'self'.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbours'. And not just the ones down the street.

Photo by Christian Aid

The Big Brekkie campaign is a great way to gather people together, to join in fellowship, to laugh, eat, share and love. Yet, to also look outside of yourself and make a difference to someone outside of yourself. Checkout Morsheda's story here.  

Photo from
I cannot think of a better way to look outside of yourself. To be counter-cultural in a society obsessed with 'self'. 
I cannot think of a better way to change a life.

Thank you Christian Aid.


Sign up for a free Big Brekkie hosting pack here: 
Find out more about Christian Aid Week:

Monday, 1 February 2016

"Shut up you Anorexic B*tch"

During the early hours of Sunday morning (3:30am to be precise) - after celebrating a friend's 21st and trying to sort our taxi's - I received the nasty side effect of a girl's over-consumption of alcohol. When I walked away, (as overheard by the friends I was with at the time), the girl shouted:

^ Shocking right!!!

It's been on my mind ever since. (Especially taking into account that I am confidently a healthy size). I spoke with a close friend at college about it and we decided it wasn't a comment to overlook. I then persisted to gather the opinions of others as to the seriousness of such a remark and decided to collate them for your reading:

Beckah Boreham
"Calling somebody 'anorexic' is not the same as calling someone 'skinny' or 'thin' or 'slim' and A) If you had anorexia, that could relapse you B) You wouldn't use any other type of mental health as an insult, but because anorexia is linked to body image we think it's ok to say it."

Rhiannon Rees
"People don't understand that mental health is the same as a physical illness/impairment because it is. If someone said "shut up you cancerous b*tch" - there would be an uproar. Anorexia is something to do with identity and what we see and people think that's excusable. It's really sad."

Martha Stringer
"What was going on in her head for that to be the thing that came quickest to her mind to insult you? I think it goes much deeper into what is going through girls mind in society today. Anorexia and other mental illnesses are so misunderstood that people can think it's okay to call a stranger out for having an eating disorder. The bible says whatever comes out of our lips is a reflection of our heart, I think that girl, drunk or not, is struggling with something deep in her heart and can't express it because of societal misunderstanding."

Chris Burrows

"There's an objectification - anorexia is a medical term. Skinny is subjective - anorexia is objective, it's fact. It could be seen as adding weight to an insult. Plus, they're removing themselves from the blame."

Jackie Faerber

"As a 'reformed' anorexic I felt physical repulsion at the use of the two words together. 
I never set out to be anorexic, it took complete control of my mind. I ended up completely depressed, homeless, friendless and ostracised by community. 
I was skeletal and hid my bone protruding frame away from a society under baggy clothes not wanting to be noticed by a world that did not recognise my fear and pain. 
I felt so dejected, lonely and unlovable that I think someone shouting anorexic bitch would have sent me into a spiral of devastating proportionAttaching this to the word b*tch even now causes my belly to churn and the feeling of anxiety rising up within me. 
Please do not ever ever use this word to lash out at any individual. You do not know our past. You do not know what we have had to go through to get to this stage of survival. 
Firstly, turn the mirror round and take a good look at yourself."

Beth Worn
"It saddens me that the instant reaction of a girl to insult someone contains the word anorexia - drunk or not, this is no excuse. There has to be a huge blip in society in regards to anorexia, amongst other mental illnesses. It would appear to me that the girl has underlying confidence issues to even throw that word at someone, and a clear lack of understanding of the illness. I have never come across anyone using these words against someone, and now that I have, there are clearly major issues within our society and people need to be educated."

Annabelle Hawkes
"When the individual paired 'anorexic' with 'b*tch' it effectively displays a social condition where mental illness is still worryingly stigmatised and reduced to surface values. 'B*tch', has become a popular derogatory word used to insult women universally and is often used to cement practically any perceived flaw 'domineering b*tch', 'stupid b*tch' 'skinny b*tch', 'fat b*tch'. Seeing 'anorexic' paired with 'b*tch' raises SO many worrying implications that it's impossible to cover them all. Following a word with 'b*tch' immediately defines the word it follows as an insult, a negative. While 'b*tch' itself is also problematic because being etymologically the word for a FEMALE dog, it is a word that specifically targets women. Therefore when any insult uses the word 'b*tch', it automatically plays into the oppression and degradation of ALL women."

Jennifer Lovegrove
"When I stood and heard what she said I couldn't get my words out because of how shocked I was. I feel like there's a deeper issue in terms of girls' insecurities and this level of 'competition' to be a certain way and look the best doing it. It's a pressure forced upon society - and men suffer too. There's a huge emphasis in society on being a certain way and shouting words out such as 'anorexic' is extremely damaging."

It seems I have very wise friends.

What she said was not ok. But I can't let it capture my mind and my heart. What I can instead do is look at what this suggests about society today and try to change it - whether in some small way (like this blog post) or perhaps big (hmmm...)?

We need to think about the stigma related to mental health. 

We need to think about the pressures on men AND women in our society.
We need to think about how we so easily judge a book by it's cover.

Maybe it's time we stopped 'thinking' and actually acted on these issues?

The words we use can mean the difference between relapse and restoration. They can destroy or they can build up. They can cut or they can love. Choose wisely.

What are you going to do differently?

I'll keep you posted.