Boarding School. Just saying the words makes people give me a scrutinizing look! Yep, there are still boarding schools and I volunteer at one. When I tell people it is a private Christian boarding school then their curiosity changes to an assumptive idea of “privileged” students.
None of those stereotypes are true here. We’re a very small school nestled at the base of Mt. Rainier in Washington. Our school is co-ed–housing boys in one dorm and girls in another. The students that come here are given opportunities to work off their school bill by applying for the many needed jobs on the campus as well as the donation based student aid program.
I count it a privilege to work with students in an environment that allows me to minister to them. I take the call seriously. Most of my personal mentoring is with young ladies. I’ve been doing so for close to 13 years and love it.
In 2007 I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat. I’d never done public speaking and didn’t know what I would talk about. When I said yes, God made it clear what I should share. He wanted me to talk about my struggle with body image, value, and comparison. God showed me how my own struggle with image made the fear of vulnerability very real. And that journey lead my ministry in a direction I could have never anticipated. I had no idea how ministering to others would help me find my own healing and understanding of who God made me to be.
A Shared Struggle
As I shared my story of going from comparing to being content through Christ, I quickly found out that this struggle is not unique to me. The earth that we live in is a result of comparison. Satan wanted what he did not have and he still uses that strong desire today to take our eyes off of what God made us to be. He was able to convince Eve that God was keeping her from being all that she could be. She was not good enough. He was able to get her to compare herself to God.
As I work with these young girls, I hear the root of the same struggle. “I am not. . . smart, pretty, skinny, talented, outgoing ….enough.” I’ve asked them who they use to set that standard. They often aren’t sure, they just feel it’s true.
One day while reading a blog I saw a link to Compared To Who by Heather Creekmore. I knew that this was a book I needed to get into the hands of these girls. I ordered the book and when I read it (of course for the sake of ministering to the girls) I realized my own struggles with comparison still had a strong hold on me. The serpent voice telling me that I am not good enough still hisses too often. I knew this would be a meaningful journey to take the girls on too.
I talked with two other women and the girls’ dean about helping me conduct a 6-week study during the evening worship service held in the dorm. The ladies were very excited and we started calculating how much it would cost.
In order to purchase the 135 books we needed for the girls, the funds would have to be raised from outside sources. I prayed and asked God that if this was something He could use through me to please help with the funds needed. One afternoon I heard a clear voice tell me to “ask Heather” to help. I was sure that my request for assistance with getting these books would get an automated response that “due to the large volume of requests we cannot help you at this time, but we will continue to pray for your ministry.” But when I reached out I got a personal reply that she was very interested in what I was doing and would work with me!
I emailed and called other community members and prayers were answered. The money was raised within that week!
Compared to Who? on Campus
The book has been a blessing, not only to me–as the leader of the study–but also to the girls on this campus and to all who are hearing the story!
The ladies helping me facilitate the study said they signed up to “help the girls” but finished the 6-week study with a different view of the gospel message. One of the ladies emphasized how she never realized that her “ideal” was her idol.
The questions at the end of each chapter are perfect and guide a great group study. The memory verses and tools through Heather’s website are very helpful and make this ready to use even if you have never lead a study before.
For me, well my booked is dog-eared, underlined, and written in very well. I will use it as a main resource not only for my ministry but for my own growth. “The battle for our hearts, not our bodies,” is never ending on this earth. The Gospel of Christ offers us contentment in the knowledge that I am free today from the struggle of comparison because, as Heather reminded me, God wouldn’t love me more if I was. . .smarter, thinner, more outgoing, or talented.
Thank you, Heather, for sharing your story and for helping the girls in our school, the volunteer ladies and me, see all the ways that we can connect and not compare.
Helping Women understand how much their image is detested and coveted by the serpent is a personal ministry for her. Follow her blog at: www.cherifletcher.com