One of the gifts I requested and received for my birthday was a magnifying/make-up mirror. As I grow older, less trusting of my appearance, and more likely to apply copious amounts of concealer, I thought it important that I had an accurate view of my true self. However, when I saw the price tag on this fancy mirror, and I saw my reflection in way too much detail, I decided it wasn't worth that kind of money to see myself in such an unflattering light. Therefore, I returned the high-end mirror and picked up a cheap plastic one. It requires me to squint to avoid a distorted view, but it shows my flaws just the same.
Flaws. Whether they're skin deep or deep within us, we each have our way of dealing with them. Some possess shelves full of self-improvement books and make-up. Others wallow in their weaknesses, allowing their flaws to define them. Personally, I like to protect myself from my faults with a layer of self-deprecating humor. But, what I'm really working toward is accepting myself for who I am, flaws and all.
I think most women struggle with self-acceptance or embracing what author Kimberly Dunnam Reisman terms “good enough.” Whether we're full-time moms or working professionals, many of us are united in our desire to be superwoman, a pursuit that will forever leave us feeling inadequate, insecure and overwhelmed. How much time do we spend comparing ourselves to other women, trying to live up to the unrealistic definition of the ideal mother, perfect wife, or star employee? How exhausted do we become by trying to do it all and have it all?
In her six-week Bible study, The Christ-Centered Woman: Finding Balance in a World of Extremes, Kimberly helps us to find balance at every age and stage of life. Confronting the daily chaos of competing demands from a new perspective, she asks not “How do I juggle my responsibilities?” but “How do I make choices that reflect my relationship with Christ and his direction for my life?” Kimberly reminds us that we cannot experience the balance that God intends for us if we falsely believe we can do it all.
Using chapter three of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as a biblical foundation, the study identifies barriers to balanced living and explores what the Bible teaches about Christ-centered living. We discover how being centered in the Savior can help us contemplate, sort, and prioritize our callings. Through it all, we come to experience Christ as Rock, Solace, and Guide and find him the calm center from which we can wisely navigate the responsibilities of our lives.
I’m not the only woman who has found comfort, encouragement, and a much-needed sense of balance in The Christ-Centered Woman. Linda Holland, a small group leader at Forest Lake UMC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, shared this with Abingdon Women:
“Six weeks ago, twenty new female friends and I began Kimberly Dunnam Reisman's study, The Christ-Centered Woman. As with many studies, our first night together included getting to know one another and distributing books. (We had to order more, TWICE!)
As I entered our classroom after our first week of this study of Ephesians 3, one of my new friends remarked, ‘Does she (the author) know me? I can't believe how much I needed this study!’
The Christ-Centered Woman provides not only sound theological teaching for a women's study group, but also draws group members closer to one another. The grace and balance emphasized in this well-formatted study created an atmosphere of peace and acceptance, fostering the vulnerability and openness vital to an engaged, supportive and enthusiastic group of women. Best of all, seasoned Christians, new believers and those investigating Christianity each responded enthusiastically to the study.
As the author emphasizes in an introduction: ‘Over the years, I've learned that balance is not about eliminating chaos; it's about finding a calm center from which to navigate the commitments and challenges of life. And this calm center is found in Jesus Christ.’
Together my new friends and I learned while we may not be perfect, through the Holy Spirit's guidance and with each other's encouragement, we can become more balanced and Christ-centered.”
Dear Lord: Help me to put away the magnifying glass, lay aside unrealistic expectations, and choose instead to develop a “mindset of grace” that will allow me to experience the wholeness that you intend for my life. Amen.