Words are powerful. Written or spoken, they release an emotional response.

A few years ago, on a particular spring day, I decided to put my mouth on a diet. Not a diet in the traditional sense of what I was eating, but rather, what I was consuming. I was beginning to have a big, fat mouth because I was eating a lot of my own words and other people’s words. I had been swallowing them whole and letting them ferment in my spirit for my entire life.

In my years with Compassion That Compels, I’ve learned the things women long for are love and acceptance. The journey to find those things is often a tortured path making every glance in the mirror warped as if in a funhouse. Time doesn’t heal wounds, it only ages them and childhood hurts can fully ripen in adulthood.

When I was younger, my dad would buy me those full-front, iron-on, graphic shirts that felt like I was wearing a plastic cutting board. They’d say things like: Daddy’s Princess, Miss America in the Making, or my personal favorite, My Daddy Loves Me.

I never questioned the veracity of any of these statement wardrobe additions until we moved from the midwest to Louisiana and I went out to play kick the can; excited to make some new neighborhood friends. That's when I heard, “What does she have on?” I could feel the unison of bowed ponytails whipping around like a decorated kite string to assess my outfit. The heat on my face was stronger than the sun’s rays.  With no one wanting me as a teammate, I made my way home.

I waited for my dad to return from work, then asked him: “Dad, I’m not a Miss Universe winner or even a princess, so why do you buy me these shirts?”

Without missing a beat, he said, “Because you’re beautiful and to me, you’re my princess.”

“Um…oh, okay,” I muttered and walked off wearing my pageant shirt and drawstring Planters Peanuts pants we received for mailing in 30 labels from the mixed nut containers. Why? Because my daddy loved me and to him, I was beautiful. Thank God for an older sister’s closet! I chose that day to consume the neighborhood girl’s words and not my dad’s. Later, I chewed their words and swallowed my identity with their ridicule well into my twenties.

In my early adulthood, I realized my quick wit could make me the center of attention and preempt any hurt. I volleyed words and opinions with wide target swings. It was a cycle of verbal binge consumption that haunted me throughout my driving work and need to please. Even after I became a Christian, words spoken about the type of Christian wife and mom I should be were bittersweet morsels. I was a harsh critic and firmly expressed my opinions. I consumed all these words to excess and still waited on the approval of others instead of God.

Things changed with my sister-in-law Sonja’s cancer battle. I can’t say that her diagnosis was the moment, but the letter of forgiveness she pressed in my hand before being wheeled into surgery. See, Sonja and I had gotten fat mouths together for a while, but suddenly words didn’t matter. My diet didn’t start that day. Not even after both my second sister-in-law, Pam’s diagnosis and my sister, Vikki’s. It came when I looked at the pained faces of my two daughters. There wasn’t anything beautiful in my ugly, fat mouth. That spring day, I decided that the only words and opinions I consumed were God’s.

When your words came; I ate them; they were my joy and heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. (Jeremiah 15:16)

My loves, people will always have an opinion of you and themselves. At the end of the day, you will rest your head in peace with this truth: Live for the audience of one. You’ve been given this gift of life to enjoy. Nurture your spirit with His Word and there’s no longer the need to feed your hungry heart. Be wholly satisfied dining at your Daddy’s table with a feast of love, grace, mercy, joy, and yes…acceptance.

[caption id="attachment_25337" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Rest & Reset Retreat | CompassionThatCompels.org Join me March 23rd & 24th for our Just Breathe Retreat in Pigeon Forge! My good friend and Life Coach, Dianna Salciccioli is one of the speakers and will work with you on your life plan. Click image for more details, registration, or to sign up to receive updates on this event right in your inbox![/caption]