Jo Saxton and I met when we recorded a short devotional together at a conference. The first thing you see is her broad beaming smile. The first thing you hear is her beautiful English accent. But if you listen in, you’ll also hear the fire in her heart. Jo is passionate for people to become free of all the wounds and broken pieces that hold them back and recover their God given identity and purpose. With honesty, hope and wisdom, she shares her own journey in and the lessons learned in her new book, which you are absolutely going to find captivating, The Dream of You. It’s a grace to welcome Jo to the farm’s front porch today…
“You’d be so pretty if you weren’t so dark skinned.”
“Stay out of the sun so you won’t get even darker.”
“Your nose is too broad.”
“You should go on a diet.”
“Men don’t like tall women.”
“I like you and I’m attracted to you, but I can’t date you because you’re black.”
I stood silently in front of a mirror with the thoughts and opinions of others echoing through my head.
All I could hear was negativity and judgment.
My looks were not enough, my body was not enough. I was not acceptable.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13–14, niv)
When you read the Bible, do you ever find that certain words jump out like flashing lights?
The verses confronted my identity, revealing where I had exchanged God’s truth for lies.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
At the time, I couldn’t read those words and mean them. The truth they held seemed to be the opposite of what I felt. Yet I knew God wanted me to see His view on creating me. He wanted me to see the lies for what they were, lies that chained me, that poisoned me.
I knew He wanted me to exchange the voices of the culture, the lies, and my own insecurity—everything that named my body as useless—for His truth.
I took my Bible and stood in front of the mirror. I felt prompted to read my neon-light verse over every single part of my body, out loud. I began, starting out with the parts of me that I liked!
“I thank You Lord that my eyes are fearfully and wonderfully made…for my teeth…”
“I praise You Lord that my ebony skin is fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. I am not too dark for You. This is me. And it’s good. I’m good? Yes, I’m good!”
“I praise You Lord for my ears. Personally, I think they’re too small, but You say they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Fine.”
“I thank You for my stomach. I promise to stop calling it my nemesis, to stop saying that I hate it.”
With that, the fierce battle over my body intensified.
What was the truth: what I felt and heard and interpreted in the culture, or what God spoke over me through a psalm?
Which would be the louder voice in my life?
That’s when I discovered that the Bible is a weapon, the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17).
It was when I stood in front of that mirror and read Psalm 139 that I first felt the weight of the sword in my hand and began to discover its impact as an offensive weapon.
I read the psalm daily, sometimes multiple times through the day, thanking God that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.
Sometimes I prayed, trembling through my tears, arguing with God about the body parts I found the hardest to accept, then sobbing my way into surrender.
Other times I felt victorious. These words affirmed my beautiful black skin!
Yet honestly, I’d reread Psalm 139 many times and feel nothing. It was just hard work, repetitive, dull at times, made up of blood, sweat, and tears.
It was a personal war as well as a path to transformation. I didn’t realize that every time I declared that verse, I was cutting away at chains, slicing and splicing the most seductive and stealthy of lies.
I didn’t know that God’s words had fallen like seed in the soil of my heart, growing in the dark, taking root until they broke my life open into a new dawn.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
I think of the journeys taken by women I know and women I’ve met, the storms they weathered and how they had to fight to establish themselves. I think of the women who were victims of abuse, violence, and violation, courageous survivors who want to become whole.
The women who live on the other side of eating disorders. On most days, they walk free and far from the past. And then there are other days.
Some women stand in front of a mirror and grieve because, though a medical treatment saved their lives, it also cost them their hair, their nails, their brows for a time. Or their breasts, permanently.
There are the women who lay a hand near their womb and question their worth because they never carried a child. Others who lay their hand on that same space ache that their bodies could not carry a much-loved precious new life to term.
Some of you haven’t stood in front of a full-length mirror for quite some time now. You step to the edges when family photos are being taken, or you only take pictures of the children. It’s simply too hard to see yourself in photos.
Some of you take pictures, but they’re never candid. They are staged, filtered, positioned until they are Insta-worthy. You don’t mean to count the “likes,” note the comments.
But every click on social media has become a statement about your body and your value. You don’t want it to matter so much to you. But it does.
You are fully known.
He has seen it all and He knows it all.
And still you are deeply, deeply, loved.
Using Psalm 139:14, acknowledge that your body, your personality, your talents, all of you is fearfully and wonderfully made.
His words have the power to level and liberate you, a Spirit-filled sword to cut through the most resistant of chains.
I think they can help you see into the mirror differently.
His words help you discover who you fully are.
His words speak a truth that will set you free.
I read this book in one sitting — could not put it down. Jo Saxton is on fire & these pages burn with the hope of who you were meant to be! Jo Saxton is a popular leadership trainer, international speaker and author. Jo also chairs the board of an international discipleship organization 3DMovements; serves on the advisory board for CT Women; and co- hosts the Lead Stories podcast. Jo and her husband Chris have two daughters.
We were made in the image of God, born with beauty and value, potential and purpose. Yet life experiences and definitive relationship can reshape our lives, distorting our understanding of our identity and purpose – and we live as a fraction of who we are created to be. In The Dream of You Jo explores biblical figures and shares her own personal story as she invites you to turn to the One who has always seen, known and loved you. These pages are life-changing and offer you the lifeline that God always values your true identity and purpose. Let these brilliant pages show you how it is possible to let go of your broken identities and live the life you were made for.
[ Our humble thanks to WaterBrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]