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The Countdown Continues – 40 Days Lighter Turns Three

“Life is meant to be lived in a cycle of receiving and releasing,

and without this order, life comes to a halt altogether.”

A. St. Louis, 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free

As I continue to reflect on my 40 Days Lighter journey, this quote from Part II – Release continues to ring incredibly true. This chapter was born out of a moment of realization that I had gotten into the habit of holding in and holding onto ideas, experiences, and just plain old stuff that had come into my life, no longer had a place, yet was taking up a large amount of space.

There were empty promises that had been made to me, friendships, acquaintances, and work relationships that were fraying, but fear of having nothing to replace them deterred me from letting them go – despite how useless they had become. I was holding onto old definitions of who I was, which left very little room for me to embrace the woman I was becoming. I had clothes that I kept because “I might need them” or “so and so gave this to me” or “I don’t know where I’ll find another one”, yet I hadn’t touched them since I moved into my husband’s house (or I wore them and felt insecure every time). I needed to let go and not allow the “what if’s” ringing in my head stop me from experiencing “what could be”.

The truth is, if you aren’t willing to release what is behind you, you limit your view of what is ahead of you. I had to go through the process of divesting myself of old patterns of thinking – physically going through the process of letting go of the way I used to dress, the way I used to think about life, the way I used to think about my potential, and the way I thought about my future. I changed my hair, got my first tattoo, started losing weight – yet none of these things were the defining characteristics of the changes I was undergoing.

I was changing from the inside out – starting the journey to asking God to free me from perfectionism, from the spirit of comparison, from feeling inadequate in the various spaces of my life. I began to see a woman who had a story worth sharing, who deserved to be her own person not limited by the perceptions and opinions of everyone else around me.

I began to write my own story, not knowing that this would be the process, the moment, that change my life – and it was just the beginning.

I want to encourage someone – reflect on your life, release what doesn’t belong to you, and then tell your story.

It will surprise you to see just how far you’ve come.

~ Andrea ~

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This is for the Great Pretenders…

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“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””

1 Samuel 16:7

We all know it’s not real until it’s on social media – or at least that’s what our technology-driven society would want us to believe anyway.

We post beautifully scripted captions and posed snapshots of our lives – using lighting, angles, cropping, and our beloved filters to gloss over and smooth out the rough edges that disrupt perfection. We allow the world to see what we want them to see – and hope that they can see nothing more.

Yet, we’ve all seen a photo or two posted, where the person didn’t realize that we could see the “hidden” imperfection reflected in a mirror or nearby window. Tell the truth – those photos are hilarious! Or there is the beautifully crafted caption, only to have someone who knows the person in real life, blow the whole thing by making a comment that completely discredits everything that was written before. Awk-ward.

If only there was a filter for real life, right?

Unfortunately, so many of us treat our lives as if we can merely pick an outfit, put on some makeup (slaying that highlight and those brows), snap a pic and throw a filter on it to make everything wrong appear right. We become so accustomed to dressing up our shortcomings and shame, that when life eventually rips off the Bandaid, we are traumatized all over again by the sight of our unhealed wounds. 

What if, instead of taking falsified “bestie pics”, we took the time to work on and maintain healthy friendships?

What if, rather than pretending to have an excellent relationship with our Bible and vibrant prayer life (courtesy of our lovely study Bible and journal photos), we actually spent private time with God, letting out an ugly cry or two when needed?

As we continue our pursuit of a life lived lighter, it’s high time we drop the weight of our carefully crafted and curated facades – our decorative but fragile walls we have put up to keep others from discovering our “truth”. We might be able to fool people who don’t know us, but we aren’t fooling anyone that matters. We aren’t fooling ourselves, and we certainly aren’t pulling a fast one on God.

What good is it having a perfectly styled, toned, and contoured outer appearance, while on the inside, we are depressed, discouraged or feel like we’re dying? Be free from the pressure to play pretend. Get real with God, get real with the people who care and keep you accountable, and get real with yourself.

We will have so much more to offer the world when authenticity becomes more important than popularity, and building a firm foundation becomes more important than wearing it.

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40 Days Lighter – Day 40: Ready to Run

First, please let me say how utterly amazed I am at the outpouring of encouragement I have received throughout this 40 Days Lighter Journey! I am at a loss for the perfect words to express just how much I appreciate each and everyone of you who has taken the time to join me on this journey!

Second, for those of you who hopped into the story a little later on, please be sure to take a look at 40 Days Lighter – Day 1. There you will find out more about the challenge that inspired this journey, and some of the resources I have used in my reflections and change implementation along the way.

As I wrap up Day 40 of this amazing experience, know that my story is not over. I am still growing – lighter, wiser and better! And I have discovered that with all of this preparation, I am now ready to run!

This journey started, with me feeling like I needed to seriously declutter my mind, heart and life. I now end this adventure, having dropped serious weight, openly and transparently addressing the inner wrestlings of my heart, and deepening my relationships in ways I never knew possible.

So as I head off to bed, in awe of all that God has accomplished in me during this time, I will leave you with this thought, in the hope that you too, will take a step of faith into purpose, and find your way to living lighter and living free!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)