Photo credit: The talented Baylee Grambling @ Unsplash.

Girl, next time you post a photo of yourself doing something fun — playing at the beach, eating dinner with girlfriends, snuggling with your younger sibling, be ready.

There is always someone out there who does not want your good.

There are some people who are not your people.  Yes, there are girls (and boys, alike) who will call themselves your friends in the hallways but who choose to whisper crude and vicious names for you, covering their own mouth and the listener’s ear with a cupped hand, attempting to hide their words.  But the words, spilled out all over, spoken quietly from one person to the next, travel quickly and get exaggerated, like messages in an elementary game of  “Telephone.”

And those kinds of words, the crude and vicious names — they hurt.

Even when someone justifies, “Well, it’s true.” 

Listen, Lovely.  Only people who completely love you know what is true about you.

Did you hear that? I called you Lovely.

Your birth name or your adopted name might be Brooke or Elizabeth or Jane. But keep this in mind, and train yourself to hear Your Maker’s voice as He whispers your name into your ear. Your Creator has always called you Lovely. From your very beginning, you were beautifully crafted and uniquely made.  

But I am sure you have been called other names that eat away at your joy and crush your spirit.

Fat.

Flaky.

Weakling.

Beanpole.

Ugly.

Hoe.

Nerd.

Loser.

Idiot.

Have you ever wondered: Why do I hear these names repeat themselves to me more often than Lovely, especially when I look in the mirror?

Well, I have a hunch.

You hear these heart-breaking names often because you are choosing to listen to the wrong voices. Subtle, whispering voices suggest you are not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not strong enough. 

Sometimes these names are spoken by other people, but sometimes they sneakily find a way into our psyches and we have no idea where they come from.  But the debilitating messages are clear, and they play repetitively,  over and over. Over and over. Over and over, again.

You know what? You are not alone.

Young women, everywhere, are hearing these voices. Your momma heard these voices. Your grandmother and her grandmother were criticized and silenced by these voices. The whole history of women, dating back to Biblical times and before – we have struggled with believing the truth about our physical bodies from the beginning. Our female bodies have been the subject of attack since Satan cornered Eve in the garden, isolating her and whispering the Lie into her ear that would change the narrative of humanity forever.

After repeating God’s instructions to her, proving she had listened and understood what God said about eating from the tree of good and evil, Satan lied to Eve.  And she listened.  “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3).

But that was exactly Eve’s fate when she chose to eat from the tree.  She would surely die.

Young women, you have the power to silence the lying voices.  Death does not have a hold on your heart.

Look up from your social media and listen.  You are the next generation of women who will change the way that the female body leads.

You have instant access to television and movies and advertising, and all of these visual forms of entertainment want your attention.  They want your attention because they want your adoration.  They want your adoration because they want your time.  They want your time because they want your heart.

But so does God, who came to earth in the form of Jesus.  He patiently listened to teachers and wise leaders in his youth, and he spent his latter years loving and serving.  The One who healed dying children, who spoke kindly to women who were outcasts, who prayed for those who would someday betray Him. Jesus. 

Jesus wants your heart. And he fights for you, that you might hear Him calling you.

He longs for you to hear Him speak.  He says you are Luminous. 

Capable.

Confident.

Strong.

Worthy.

Lovely.

It is not too early for you to listen.  Do not let anyone tell you that you are too young to make a difference.

And it is never too late for you to hear His voice.  Never. No matter what you’ve done. No matter what they have called you.

Jesus calls you by name.  He speaks to you, Lovely. Listen close.

He is near.