Fearfully and Wonderfully

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:14-15 ESV

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that God made me and intricately wove me in His image. I can easily quote Genesis 1:27 to anyone else and tell them that they are made in the very image of God, but do I truly believe that for myself? I am my worst critic. I am aware of my every flaw; both inward and outward. In a world full of fitness Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards of “ideal” lifestyles, and every face product and fad diet available, I think it’s time we look into where our true worth comes from.

To fill you in a little bit, I assure you that I have not always been the type of person to find my self worth in the Lord. I come from a history of finding my value in other people, my own accomplishments, and maybe the worst of them all being food and fitness. If I ever found out that someone didn’t like me or was upset with me, I would do everything I humanly could to gain their affection. I knew that not everyone could like me and think I was the best person ever, but you best believe I did everything I could to maybe, just possibly, be liked by almost everybody. If that didn’t work, then I’d search for value in my own talents. Needless to say, no cheerleading, jazz choir or academic award could fill the longing to soothe the aching of my soul.

Since I couldn’t control other people and all of my accomplishments left me still feeling empty, I fell into a deep pit of finding my value in control over food and fitness. This struggle started young when I started to get the feeling that I was a little too chubby. Though I do not condemn my brother for this, his chanting of “Burn that donut!” to me while jumping on the trampoline got me thinking that maybe he thought I had a little extra chub to burn off. Subtle comments made my experiences in ballet, swim and cheer a bit more complicated. I started to feel embarrassed of the small roll that hung out over my leotard and the tightness of my swimsuit. One of my worst experiences was in cheerleading when a fellow teammate said, “You know the feeling you get when you’re hungry actually makes you lose weight, so maybe you should try that.” To make matters worse, I had adopted the nickname “Jell-O” in sixth grade because my Victoria’s Secret body spray apparently smelled like a fruity gelatin mix which a fifth grade boy used to his advantage to ask, “Do they call you that because when you walk you jiggle like Jell-O?”

It wasn’t until eighth grade that I started to adjust my habits to the lies that I had begun to accept as truth. “If I was skinnier, then I would be good enough.” The thought ran through my head like an anthem. It began as a fluctuation of binging and restraining. (My mom and best friend Cassie can attest to the hoards of Taco Bell and Oreos that I consumed during this period of my life.) Then, it became much more.

I was preparing to go to Summer cheer camp as an incoming high school Freshman when my mom and I had to stop by the UPS store. A kind looking old man walked in and began to chat with my mom. “You’re daughter is quite pretty, but she is a little fat,” he said shamelessly. Reluctantly my mom responded, “Well she’s about to go to cheer camp for a few days, so I’m sure she’ll be exercising there.”

I got the point. I was fat.

I began to exercise and diet which turned into excessive exercise and starvation. I cut out complete groups of food in the name of “Oh gee, I’m suddenly lactose intolerant even though I’ve eaten dairy my entire life and have been just fine,” and “Gosh I must be gluten intolerant because have you seen me bloat?” and “Wow sugar is the spawn of Satan and will certainly kill us all” and “Poor animals…” leaving me with basically just lettuce and apples to fuel my body.

I had dropped weight rapidly and dramatically died my hair dark brown to prove to the world that I was now good enough. Although somehow no matter how much I controlled my life, I was still terribly miserable.

A lot happened after that. I went back to my blonde roots, stopped starving myself after about two years, moved across the country, got up to the highest weight I had ever been in my life, moved back to California, started working at a gym (bad idea), pulled a truck, won a fitness competition, quit my job at the gym (good idea), moved out with my best friend Cassie, married the love of my life Aaron, and learned a lot about my worth in Jesus Christ.

My transformation was not night and day; I had to be sanctified, and God is still sanctifying me in this area. The people that God put in my life helped point me to biblical truth. My husband who I love deeply began his pursuit of my heart in the most beautiful way by intentionally not saying anything about the way I looked when our relationship was starting because he wanted to show me that my value is not found in my appearance. Ironically, he did not even know about my struggles with self image at the time. The first time he ever mentioned my looks was when he said, “You are very beautiful, but what is most beautiful is your heart.”

God showed me that no matter what I do, I cannot be good or accepted enough. My acceptance comes through what Jesus Christ did on the cross for me to forgive me of my sins so that I can have a relationship with God. I have learned that looks do not matter. The Bible says that people look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Why would we care what people think if the God of creation looks at our heart and calls us beautiful? I learned that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and we should certainly take care of them, but that physical training is of some value while godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). I learned that after this life on Earth, if we are believers in Christ Jesus, we will have a new body (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).

I do not believe that God is proud of our achievements in eating under 800 calories a day or finally fitting into size 2 jeans. So in a world that preaches that we need to be prettier and skinnier, let’s seek our worth in Christ and Christ alone.

Ugh, I’m a Peter

This morning I saw myself in the Bible as I read in Matthew Chapter 14. To catch you up on the action, Jesus has just gotten done feeding the 5,000. When he was done he basically told his disciples, “Hey, I’m going to stay here with the crowd for a bit, then go up and pray. I’ll catch up.” So he sent them in their boat and went about his business. When he was done praying up on the mountain, the Bible says:

And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””

First off, let’s just take a moment to appreciate that Jesus, being God, could have just appeared on the other side of the sea, and they could have wondered how he got there so fast, but it could have probably been said he took another faster boat. Or he could have just appeared on the boat instantly, and that probably would have freaked them out too. But instead, Jesus decided to walk on the water.

Where I see myself in this story is that often times when I don’t know where God is in my life, all of the sudden, out of nowhere, he shows up, just like Jesus did on the water, and I wonder if that’s really him. Is this really what the Lord wants? I pray for God to show me if it is him and he whispers “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And for some reason I test Him again, and ask him to really  show me if it’s His will. He usually send me hints, and opens doors and I get out of the boat and start to walk towards him on the water of whatever it is I feel he’s calling me to. But then someone says the wrong thing to me, or  maybe attitudes of my peers don’t match mine, or there is the slightest of pushback by flesh and blood or an attack of the enemy and just like Peter fearing the wind, I start to fear and doubt.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Strangly, and undeservedly, Jesus reaches out and always pulls me out of the water.

More times than I can name, God has reached down and pulled me out of situations that I thought were the end. (Though my wife would tell you I was probably over reacting i.e. The Great Math Test Debacle of 2k18).  But God is good. And he’s opening doors we don’t know. And He’s doing things every moment we may never see this side of eternity. My message to myself and to the reader is this: have faith. God is good. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Nobody wants to be a Peter. Everyone wants to be a great evangelist like Paul or get all the revelation stuff like John. No one wants to be the guy who says “I’ll NEVER DENY YOU, JESUS!” then does it three times before the rooster crowed the night Jesus was put on trial for our sins. Today I found I’m more Peter than I thought. But thank God that he reached down into the water and pulled a wretch out like me.

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20 ESV

 

The Arnett’s are headed to Guatemala

Here is our support letter we’re sending out this week!

Dear friends and family, thank you so much for taking the time to hear about the exciting things that God has been doing in the life of the Arnett’s.

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We were married August 6, 2017, and since then we’ve seen God move in our own hearts and lives daily as well as the children we work with Monday through Friday and the ones we teach on Sunday’s at The Well Community Church. In trying to find out what God really wants for us, we have not given up the notion of being full-time missionaries or entering some other type of ministry. Over the fall we prayed and prayed for months as it seemed like God was calling us to take a short-term trip abroad to Guatemala. After praying more. And more. 395CCCBA-C363-4417-A71F-32A457D28F60And more, we realized God was indeed calling Brianna to take her first trip out of the country, and Aaron’s return trip to Guatemala. We are excited for this opportunity to serve the Lord and see what he does with us, not only in Guatemala as we serve the locals and the full-time staff at Students International, but what he does with our future careers, whether that be ministry our something we can’t even imagine.
Naturally, there is a cost to taking a trip like this. For a couple, the price is $5,000 and we must raise half of it by April 29th. We hope that you might consider partnering with us as we earnestly seek the Lord. Please prayerfully consider helping send willing hands and feet to Guatemala by a financial contribution. If you felt called to serve in that way, please see the backside of this letter to learn how you can partner with us.
To be honest, what we need even more than your money is your prayers. This trip isn’t about us or even the people in Guatemala, but it is about Jesus Christ and the sin debt he paid for us on the cross. We want to honor, serve, and glorify the Lord in all we do and we feel called to go on this trip to do just that. Will you please pray for us, that we would know the Lord even more daily, that we would build each other up in this marriage daily. Pray that we would get a clear perspective of what God wants to do with us. Pray for our team, that we would bond and serve with all our hearts.

In Christ, Aaron and Brianna Arnett.

 

 

 

Thank you so much for considering partnering with us financially for this trip. If you would like to write a check, please:
Make it out to “The Well Community Church”
Leave the Memo line blank.
Do not write our names on the check at all.
Fill out the provided donation form and return it with the envelope provided.

If you’d like to make your contribution online, please:
Visit tinyurl.com/ABGuat
Scroll down to Aaron or Brianna, and click “Give”
Follow the rest of the instructions on the website.

OR

Visit thewellcommunity.org
Click the orange “Give” button at the top right of the screen.
Scroll down to Guatemala 2018
Click “Learn More”
Scroll to Aaron or Brianna and click “Give”
Follow the rest of the instructions on the website.

If reading isn’t your thing, catch us on Youtube by searching “The Arnett Show” or simply going to tinyurl.com/thearnettshow

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to consider us and what the Lord is doing. Please be in constant prayer for us as we seek the Lord’s will.