By Jackie Roese

At the beginning of the year I found myself looking at a less busy calendar with fewer speaking engagements, fewer trainings, and fewer scheduled salon conversations. In my twenty years of ministry I have never had an "empty" calendar. In America we tend to evaluate our productivity by our busy schedules. My first reaction was to ask Jesus, "Are you finished with me doing this?" 

The answer was, "No."

Nothing else, just no. 

So I asked him, "Is there an illness coming? Mine or a friend, family member for whom I might need to be available?" 

Nothing. 

And I'm not going to lie, I had thoughts questioning the loss of income. How was Marcella going to make it with less income coming in? We are sustained by equal parts donations and revenue. I like that model. It keeps us fresh, and the accountability of the market is not a bad thing. I could have stressed out, but money is not a big driver for me. 

Instead I started praying, "Lord, give me ears to hear and eyes to see." (Proverbs 20:12)

I've prayed this throughout my ministry years. Jesus and I have had this thing. I'd pray for revelation into his women, and he would show me threads - a piece of woven fabric, if you will. I'd be at a conference in New York where every side conversation pertained to domestic violence, while at another conference in Oklahoma the side conversations centered around infidelity. It was uncanny how at each event there was this common thread. It was as if Jesus and I were at the theater, and he'd open the curtains so I could see and hear what others couldn't: what women were facing, how they viewed themselves, how he viewed them. I don't know if I'm doing a good job explaining this sacred exchange. It is a bit mysterious; it isn't something I can conjure up or demand from him. Simply put - it is the Spirit revealing, and my job is to pay attention and herald God's word into it. 

In 2010 metaphorically speaking I was in a relational car accident where my mind, body, and soul were wounded. My eyes went dim, and my hearing went faint. It took time for them to heal. What I love about my Jesus is he doesn't love us based on how well we are "functioning." He was good with my long recovery. Oh, what we could learn from him!

This time of fewer scheduled events has enabled me to meet up with people at times and places that I couldn't have if my calendar had been full. And wouldn't you know it, Jesus has been sitting with me in the theater slowly pulling back the curtain; it's been evident. If my senses had been dulled, they are no longer.  

Jesus wants me to see that women, his women whom he adores, are not comfortable in their own skin. We aren't fully living. 

We may see other women as amazing but not ourselves. We think other women are beautiful but not ourselves. We are highly competent in our skills, abilities, and gifting, but not confident in ourselves. We have these amazing bodies. Yup, I get that you can't easily embrace that truth about yourself, but we have bodies that are amazing even when we aren't confident or comfortable in them or with ourselves. 

So please hear what I am hearing from our Lord through his women. 

My heart has broken as beautiful high school seniors shared how they don't like their bodies. (Some of the gals in that room were model-like. I kept thinking - Wow, if you're not good with how you look, then what about the rest of us?) 

Another group of women shared how they didn't like being naked in front of their husbands because they didn't like their bodies. (There's so much in this that I can't unpack here.) 

An older woman struggles with aging and how she doesn't look like she used to. (I wonder who will show me the way? Who will model for me how to grow old gracefully? She is one of the most beautiful women over 60 that I have ever seen.) 

At a wedding party with hours of primping and prepping, there were nonstop self-deprecating statements denigrating their own appearances. 

Jesus has some very important things to say to us women about being embodied women, living in the body he provided for us to carry out his kingdom work. Yes, the body, soul, and spirit that he provided which enfolds your personality, quirks, physicality, skills, history, and ethnicity. Living in your skin means embracing who you are and coming fully to the table, because we are each one of a kind, "never to be seen again in history" redemptive agents in God's kingdom.

Dr. Sue Russell and I working on our book about Sisterhood and Brotherhood last week

Dr. Sue Russell and I working on our book about Sisterhood and Brotherhood last week

My empty calendar? God was preparing my mind and heart for writing this summer. He has pressed on me a book called Image about learning to live in your own skin. 

Your support makes my one-on-one ministry possible. But far more than that, together we are gently lifting the eyes of the church to see that shoulder to shoulder men and women are the incredible reality of Genesis 1:26 - "Let us make mankind in our image."

Thank you for walking this journey with us at The Marcella Project.

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