Hey SRW, leading up to the New Year I will be highlighting a few single men and women who caused me to STOP….take a closer look….WAIT…find out what they’re about, then GO…invite them into my Chambers to share their wisdom and experience with you.
So, without any further do let’s begin this STOP, WAIT, GO blog series with the lovely Jody Bent.
Jody: I must say that is very true, we are definitely living in an image based world. To be totally honest I cannot remember ever truly struggling with self -image, as obscured as that may sound. As a child growing up I always had a strong sense of who I was and was comfortable with being me. I was always different from the rest. I was never enticed or interested in the “cool” way of dressing or wanting to be in the popular crowd, or to look like the other children. I always wanted to be different and knew that I was unique from a young age. Growing up in a Christian home, my mother and grandmother always instilled morals and values in me in regards to my worth and how to act and conduct myself as a young lady, also the love and support that they showed me really helped me to be comfortable in the skin that I’m in and helped me to develop into the confident woman that I am today (Proverbs 22:6).I thank God for them every day. Therefore, I believe that my upbringing played a vital role in helping me to understand, accept and to be comfortable with whom I was and to have a positive self-image.
Tanika: How and at what age did you learn to love and accept yourself?
Jody: I believe that loving and accepting oneself is a life long journey. We all have our good days where we feel that we are the hottest thing on planet earth and then our not so good days, where we just want to change everything about who we are and how we look. I would say that I truly started loving and accepting myself around 9 years old, that is as far as I can remember to be honest. As a little girl I would always be in front of the mirror combing my hair, trying on outfits for school and church, my mother would always take pictures of me every morning before going to school, I was really a girly girl. However, as I got older into my early teenage years I really began to develop, mature, grow as a young lady and these were the times that I truly started loving who I was becoming and accepting who that person was. As I continued to mature in life I realize that the best example of Love was the Love that Jesus showed for me when He died on the cross. If He loved me enough to die for me, then it must mean that I am worth it and in return I must love who He has created me to be(Genesis 1:27), because I am a product of His love.
Tanika: Name three things that helped to shape you into the confident young woman you are today?
Jody: There are so many. But the three major things that have helped to shape me into the confident young women that I am today would have to be firstly, My Faith in God. When I truly began to start loving God and living a life that pleased Him it surely changed the person that I thought I was and lead to be the person who He wants me to be. Secondly, would be my mother/grandmother. They were my guidance, biggest supporters, Godly examples and the ones who helped to shape my life. Thirdly, I would say my experiences. I have had and continue to have a lot of experiences in my life that has taught me, challenged me and changed my entire way of thinking. I thank God for my stages and phases because they have surely shaped who I am today.
Tanika: What advice do you have for young women who might be struggling with poor self-image?
Jody: For the young women who might be struggling with a poor self-image I want to encourage you to start loving love, keeping in mind that God is love (1 John 4:16). I know that it is easier said than done, but when you start to understand the Love that God has for you, it will make you love yourself even more, knowing that He dwells inside of you. I must say that being a young woman in today’s society is not easy. The media has tainted the meaning of true beauty and has influenced how one should look, act and live. It can be very overwhelming and be a lot of pressure on a young person, especially one who is not grounded and know their true identity. My advice would be to find out who you truly are. Ask yourself the questions who you are, what/who do you represent, what are your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, your values, your style, your true self. You would have to dig a little deeper going beyond the way that you look and taking a closer look into your heart and what lies there. Speak over yourself, positive self-talk work wonders. Start declaring it out of your mouth that you are beautiful and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14) and start believing it. I always encourage young women not to be like everyone else, not to blend into the crowd but to stand out and dare to be different. I truly believe once one starts loving love then they will start loving themselves. Lastly, never try to compare yourself to anyone, you should be the best you that you can be. Take the time out to re-evaluate yourself and to do an internal self check. Take a closer look into the person that you are portraying yourself as to others and ask yourself, if that is truly the person you genuinely want to be.
Jody: It is very important for a young lady to know her worth because this is how she is going to know who’s worth it. If she does not know her worth, then she will not know her value and will allow anyone to come into her life and take disadvantage of her. A lot of times young women do not know their worth and as a result they find themselves in broken relationships, with severe low self-esteem issues and devaluing themselves. But a woman who knows her worth knows her value and will not settle for anything less. When a young lady truly knows her worth, she will know that she is priceless and it is not everyone that can afford that! Proverbs 31:10 let us know that the price of virtuous women is above rubies! Young women your worth is priceless. Cherish it and love who you are.
Tanika: How do you think young women can learn to love and accept themselves?
Jody: As I stated before it is a journey. As human beings we are always evolving, changing, growing and maturing. I can only tell you what has worked for me through my personal experiences. When I started building my relationship with Christ Jesus and started reading and understanding His word, it was literally a mirror, a true reflection of who I was and who He wanted me to be. I think young women can learn to love and accept themselves through first loving and accepting Christ and the person He has made them to be. He helped me to love and accept my flaws, imperfections and weaknesses; because I know that through Him I am made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). Do not dwell too much on the negatives, but look at all that you are, your accomplishments thus far and the greatness that lies within you. Accept your imperfections and work towards perfection in all that you do. Ask the Lord to teach you how to love yourself and how to see yourself as how He sees you. None of us are perfect, when we think that we are at our worst point, there is always someone that is even worse than we are. So be grateful for who you are and what you have. Identify the things about yourself that you can change and work on it and the things that you cannot change just start loving it.
Tanika: As a single women desiring to be married one day, how would you answer the question found in the book of Psalm 119:9. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?”
Jody: Well clearly as we know it, it is not easy especially for young people nowadays to live a life of purity in this sinful world that we live in. There is always a constant reminder of sex and promiscuity in the media, the spirit of perversion that has been unleashed in the world today and the temptations are endless. However it is possible to stay on the path of purity with the grace and help of God. Paul warned Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). As much as we have Christ dwelling on the inside, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we are still in flesh and the fleshy nature awakens from time to time. I believe Psalm 119:9 is asking how can a young person stay pure and keep their temple from being defiled. But as important as this question is, I like the fact that the answer follows thereafter. It is all through taking heed to the word of God. It is a great consolation that we have the Word of God as a means of cleansing us and cleaning us up. I believe a young person can stay on the path of purity through keeping their mind stayed on God. By reading/living the word of God (Psalm 119:11), developing an active prayer life and fasting and seeking the face of God earnestly. This will help to keep your mind focused on Christ and not be distracted by the pleasures of this world. This goes back to knowing who you are in Christ and knowing your worth. It is also important to know your weaknesses and try not to put yourself in compromising positions. Surround yourself with people of God that will encourage you to live right and hold you accountable. Try not to be around negative individuals that will pressure or force you to indulge in sin and to do things that are not right. This will help to keep a young person grounded, strong, and pure and to be encouraged to wait on the Lord. It can be difficult at times, but we just have to fall back on God’s word, it is not we that keep ourselves but it is He that is keeping us.
Tanika: Finally, Jody you are so encouraging and inspiring to many is there anyone in your life that encourages and inspires you?
Jody: All the glory belongs to God, Thank you. I am humbled to know that I can be an encouragement and inspiration to someone else. I try to surround myself with people that love God and that will give me Godly counsel. I have always loved to be around the older folks they have so much wisdom to impart to us young people. My grandmother is my greatest inspiration, she is truly a woman of God, a virtuous woman at that and I strive to be like her as I get older and mature in Christ. My mother is my number one fan. She’s my greatest supporter always pushing me to be better and worked so hard to give me all I needed to become the best I can be. I am blessed for the selected few that the Lord has placed in my life that continue to encourage, inspire, counsel and impart wisdom to me. I cannot call them by name but I am grateful for each and every one of them for the influence and impact they have on my life.
Tanika: Thank you for sharing Jody. You are truly a beacon of light. Keep shining!
Jody: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share on this platform. God is truly amazing and is deserving of all the glory and praise. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless your ministry as you continue to be a blessing to so many.