I’m writing over at Proverbs 31 Ministries today and I thought this might bless you too. Read to the end to see a picture of that little girl.
There I sat. Second row, middle. Front and center. Scared to death. I wasn’t scared of the camera. I was scared of life.
The day I found that picture of myself, I had been flipping through a childhood scrapbook my mom made. The pictures began on the day she brought me home from the hospital and continued through birthdays and Christmas mornings. But when I got to my kindergarten class photo, my heart stood still.
While all the other children sat straight and tall with big smiles that would make any parent proud, I sat slumped with my hand up to my mouth … biting the knuckle of my right index finger.
My hair was perfectly curled and my monogrammed dress crisply starched. I looked good on the outside. But on the inside, I remember wanting to disappear from the camera as insecurity and fear weighed heavily on my little-girl shoulders. My childhood home had not been a safe place.
The image of my slumped little body in that kindergarten picture reminds me of a woman we meet in Scripture. She, too, slumped — not because she wouldn’t stand or sit up straight but because she couldn’t. We find her story in Luke 13:10-13:
“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God” (NIV).
While we might not relate to being bent over physically, most of us can relate to being “bent over” emotionally. We see feet … people passing us by, going about their busy lives. We see dirt … the mistakes we’ve made through the years. We see trash … the pain inflicted on us by others and, sometimes, by our own poor decisions.
We feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. Bent and bowed, perhaps because our race, ethnicity, gender, age, lack of physical ability, marital status, family history or financial needs become burdensome in our broken world.
Crippled by shame, fear, pain, disappointment, depression, poverty, insecurity, inferiority, inadequacy, broken dreams.
I was emotionally crippled for many years. I listened to words from my past telling me I was “ugly,” “not good enough” and “worthless.”
Inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy were my three closest companions. I didn’t like these three lurking shadows, but they followed me everywhere I went. They stalked me, yelling taunts and accusations that no one heard but me. The more I listened to them, the more emotionally bound I became.
Then one day, Jesus called me out of hiding just as surely as He called the crippled woman to Himself in the synagogue in Luke 13. It was as if He placed His nail-scarred hand under my chin and lifted my head. He whispered to my wounded heart, Sharon, you are free from your infirmity of feeling less-than. Because of the finished work I did for you on the cross, and because of My spirit in you, you are more than enough to do what I’ve called you to do and to be who I’ve called you to be. Click & Tweet!
And that’s exactly what He’s saying to you today. No more slumping in self-doubt or hunching in halfhearted conviction. Instead, you can stand up to the full stature of a confident woman who knows she is equipped by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit and enveloped in Jesus Christ. A daughter of Abraham by grafting. A child of God by choosing.
Is there something in your life that is crippling your spirit? Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, guilt, sorrow, worry, regret, comparison? Today is the day to cut it loose, cast it off, throw it away.
Whatever has been holding you back from lifting your head … Jesus has come to set you free! Lift up your head, dear sister. He has called you by name. You are His.
Dear Jesus, thank You for setting me free! Today, I choose to walk in that freedom and never be held captive by emotional chains again. In Your Name, Amen.
What is Jesus calling you to be free of today? Let us know in the comments.
Can you find me? Smack dab in the middle.
If you’ve ever felt less-than because of your past, your present circumstances or your gender as a woman, then Sharon Jaynes’ newest book is just for you! Never Less Than: Living Empowered, Esteemed, and Equipped When the World Tells You Otherwise is a message that you, your friends and your daughters need to hear. Learn more here.
Thank you for this and a timely message. …especially after V day! Not having the actions of love demonstrated when so many others around do is painful. It made me think of so many in this spot …a painful day. A reminder God always loves me and Litt my head😍
God thank you for emotional healing and freedom 💗
Thank you for this message today. It is so timely. I lift my head up today as I am reminded what Christ did for me on the cross. You have been such a blessing today. God Bless You!
I am casting off my worry of major financial problems. I am trying really hard not to worry but something happens new every day!!
God’s got you sister, he will definitely provide.🙏🙏🙏
I was always treated as if I weren’t really loved by my family. Thank you for writing this.
Thank you for this encouraging word this morning Sharon !! It lifted my Spirit, my Heart and Soul ! I am Free from past mistakes and feeling less than!! I am more than a Conqueror through Christ Jesus!!! I am the Daughter of a King I shall walk Tall and with confidence in HIM!! Gif Bless !! ! 👑
Thank you for this message, I feel so overwhelmed, so many things happening around me. But this message, talked to my heart. Thank you!
We are beginning our Less than Book study this Wednesday morning. Please pray for me as I lead and for our ladies (20) of them, as we grow in Christ together.
Love you so very, very much!
today and most days I feel “not good enough” and “not smart enough”. I know God is able, just sometimes I don’t feel worthy or capable of doing what I need to do. Finances make me crazy, and it is also not my husbands strong point either, so…
This year ended my caregiving of my parents and my mother in-law. I started with all three in early 2017, my dad passed in 2019, my mom in-love in 2020, and my mom, last month. I have reached a new depth of tired, which also pulls at my confidence.
My hubby retired for the second time in December, (he has been waiting for almost two years now for back surgery, which on several occasions has left him in a wheelchair because he was unable to stand or walk due to severe pain). That all said, meeting the bills we have will be a challenge and also cause us to be on a much tighter budget. I feel weighed down by that most days, even realizing that God is in control.
Thank for you and your daily devotionals that keep me going!
My heart went out to you even though I don’t know you. You have been through a lot. You have no reason to feel less than very special for all you have delt with. I am sure you are tired; anyone would be. You have a servants heart which is certainly Christ honoring.
I am praying that you get some good rest somehow and that ( family/friends, church family) would step up and be a help to you. May you seek Godly cousel for finances and be encouraged by seeing the Lord go before you.
I will be praying for you.
Thank you for these powerful words. I have always felt less than for as long as I can remember, but couldn’t find the words to articulate that. Your words, along with the scripture references, move me.
Being single and never married always makes me feel less than around all the married couples.. At 56 I find myself being cynical and judgmental of my past relationship choices. Always wondering how I drew the unsavory characters – the drug addiction, cheater, alcoholic, abusers and liars. I tell myself everyday that God is enough and He already considers me as enough.. i am enough to do His will, to serve in ministry, Yo share the Gospel and to live in Christ. Thank God that His truth stands when all else fails.
What a great message. Full of grace. Let’s go….
I do not know how to be free.
I tell myself almost everyday that I am a worthless piece of trash & a complete failure. I have made so many mistakes. I do not deserve to be happy. This is my punishment for the mistakes I have made.
Our God did not make a worthless piece of trash! He created/creates master pieces. Do you realize He purposed for you to be you. He chose your eye color, your hair color, your family and He is not taken by surprise by the turmoil that you are feeling. Please look up bible verses on who you are in Christ and just stay focused on His word. If you do not know Jesus as your savior, I want to encourage you to take that first step and I promise He will reach you where you are at, right in the mist of your pain. He is just waiting for you to grab His hand and call on His name and He will show you how He feels about you and who you are! I too felt like a piece of trash and an after thought, before I called on His name and He started showing me how much I mean to Him and how He has a plan for all of the bad decisions I have made. He will and does use them for His glory.
Carine, the fact that you read this message shows that inside of you, you DO KNOW YOU ARE FREE!
The fact that you typed out a message in reply proves that you are making a HUGE STEP of lifting your head up to set down the words that you tell yourself. Those words are heavy. Leave those words at the feet of Jesus today! TODAY! For He is strong enough, loving enough and ready to haul them to the dumpster forever
YOU are not trash, the words you tell yourself are the trash. DROP THEM at Jesus’ feet and let Him tell you who you are!
Loved, chosen and forgiven and never forgotten!
Step into His shelter of love today. Tell Him ask Him to take them away
My name is Jane and I live in Ontario, Canada. I wish I could meet you and give you a much needed embrace. I too, live with feelings of inadequacy and you are very brave for revealing your heart. The fact that you are reading Sharon’s messages, tells me that you love God. And you must be aware that He loves you. He has forgiven you for your past mistakes, now you need to forgive yourself and rest in His loving arms. You are worthy of love! You are a treasure! Leave your mistakes and disappointments in the past and live for today. God will take care of your tomorrow’s. YOU ARE LOVED!!!
You are created in the image of God and a precious treasure to a Him. I pray you are able to receive deeply of His love and stop beating down what He has created as good. His love for you does not change and is not based on earning our deserving it. LORD GOD, today I pray Your blessing and Spirit over this lovely lady.
Carine, I understand that place — when life has been so painful that we blame ourselves and embrace shame, even at times when it is someone else’s actions.
I know it can be difficult to believe, but our heavenly Father loves you so very much and He sees none of that. He only sees His beautiful daughter who has so much more to do in this life. You are more than what has been spoken over you by others. You are so much more than the things that you have spoken over yourself. None of these things are true — you are beautiful, and you are so loved.
Your sister in Christ,
Caribe, Christ died on the cross for you and me. His blood covers all our sins. None of us are worthy without Him. Please accept the gift He has given each of us of eternal life knowing we belong to Him. That blessing can start here in this world and continue throughout our lives and into heaven. He is big enough to cover us and make us enough! Enough to face each new day we are given with full knowledge that we belong to Him.
Sharon, thank you so much for making yourself vulnerable to help others. I too have sat slumped over, a victim of abuse, a victim of a recording playing the song “nobody cares, nobody loves me” until Jesus set me free. It has not been an easy road and some days that record still starts in my head and Jesus is faithful to send messages just like this one to remind me that I am indeed free!
I know God loves me unconditionally. I lived in an abusive home and I was able to grow from in spite of it by God’s mercy. I married a man from my church. He is faithful, hardworking but, he has no communication skills and punishes me with silence and lack of affection or attention when I don’t meet has expectations or make a mistake. When I was younger it would cause great anxiety in me, but through prayer I have learned my worth is not determined by him. Now that I am older I find myself getting depressed especially since my children are all grown and I am left alone with him.
As a Minister and Hospice Chaplain it has been difficult to admit my pain.
I am slowly letting people in…but still feel I need more assurance-encouragement. As dumb as that sounds-knowing His Grace and mercy and love is enough.
Thank you for being part of healing.
I pray you and your readers be blessed many times over.
Very timely for me. Thank you for the reminder that Jesus is enough!
God’s timing is ALWAYS ON TIME. This was what I truly needed today. I have been struggling with feeling less than for a while now. I’m starting to slowly listen to Him tell me I’m worthy and He is enough. My past is just that the past. Don’t buy into the lies of the enemy who tried to keep me in bondage of feeling unworthy. God defines me! Now to get my mind to grasp that completely.
I so needed to read this today. Thank you so much and thank you for your book Never Less Than. I loved it and feel so much love for our Savior. God bless you Sharon.
Your messages are really helping me. I was very depressed and cried out to God a couple weeks ago and found an advertisement of your book “When You Don’t Like Your Story..” I ordered it and it arrived the next day! I started reading it and finished the next day. It was just what I needed. I could relate to so much! I never thought I was enough nor ever would be. It brought healing and a new hope! Your messages are so inspiring.
I ordered another of your books “Enough” to read.
Your story is just what I needed! Your messages are reminding me and lifting me up and sometimes putting me in check when I start to settle back into those thoughts.
I journaled 40 pages after reading your book and started wanting to share my stories instead of letting them hold me hostage in bondage.
I thank God for you!
I’m in a difficult time right now with a couple family members and I get so overwhelmed and feel bullied at times. I try to control the situations but keep going around in circles. I get angry and want to lash out at them but it doesn’t do any good. Well maybe for a few days than it goes right back. I’m trying to be compassionate with them eventhough they don’t seem to be with me. I know I have to give it to God and trust His timing but I get inpatient.
Have a blessed day!
Thank you for this msg , Gods timing is always perfect . Just out of a broken relationship, not knowing what was the truth or lies, left me doubting myself and my choices . But this reminder of who I am in Christ , and victory is mine because of our Savior , that gives me strength to move forward with joy and a clear heart .
Excellent message! Thank you LORD for using Sharon to bless others and me. (I can relate to this message, but thankfully I am free)
I have always felt not good enough, Like a disappointment to my family as I got pregnant in my teens and also was abused as a child. I felt like if I just get married my identity would be better because we were taught that a woman’s identity came from being married and having children. This lead to me eventually getting married but then the abuse started in the marriage. It has been a struggle but God. I was upset I asked God, “did you not have any plan for your daughters that you gave all the control to the sons. Is it okay for them to be doing this and you do nothing?”. God helped me understand that it was all about who I felt I was on the inside and that has to change. He gave me a new identity and confidence then gave me the opportunity to stand up to my fears and get the victory. Sometimes God does a miracle with little or no input from us, sometimes God uses us to get the breakthrough because He wants us to learn, grow and develop in our faith. Mine was for me to stand and fight my Goliath instead of praying the Goliath away. But God needed to get the bent over girl upstraight with the right identity, self-worth, self esteem and character and authority that comes from a right relationship with God for me to face the fears and demand my inheritance as a child of God spiritually and physically inordered for it to manifest physically.
I still have learning to do but I am no longer throwing a pity party and I know who I am now, The daughter of a King, and I live everyday with that knowledge holding me up.
It’s just getting down with God. Obedience and trust in God has no substitute. It’s the best way to live. He gave it all for us, so what would He not do for us His daughters.
Thank you so much
Sharon Jaynes I love the uniqueness of you in that picture….You we’re made to do great things…..and you are doing so! Thank you so much for your transparency!!!! God bless you! 💖
I do see a lil smile! I had a way less than childhood. Thanks for this today!
I am trusting God through my loneliness. I sometimes tend to feel sorry for myself being a widow, but am reminded Christ loves me. I am also going through a health situation and praying he will heal my body.
This! This is the exact truth God wants every woman to know and understand. This is the truth I wanted to convey myself but could not because I do not have a voice. This is the healing truth I hoped to hear over my own life. No condemnation for the woman bent over or the woman who bled for 12 years, there was only compassion. I have felt crushed and bent over trying to stand up for the compassion of Christ who faithfully loves us all.
This is why it matters so much that we love our neighbor as ourselves. So many women have these wounds that bend us over, causing us to see shoes more than faces, rejection more than love. Everyone needs to know that God is not judging us for what took us down, but chasing after us with His entire being. For longer than I can remember I longed to hear these exact words of grace. God loves us, He redeems us, He is faithful to lift us from unsafe homes into tools of His making, to love and care for others in the exact places we have not felt loved and cared for. It’s in that suffering that we learn the value of compassion for other people who have suffered in like ways. Thank you so much…truly.
I too had a hard childhood then carried over into my marriage.
I have triggers which brings up the memories. It’s hard to tell myself I did nothing wrong. Low self esteem which I k ow I shouldn’t. God is my Father and I have His DNA.
I can relate so much, and the journey that I have been is changing for the best in the life the Lord has given me.
It may take one person to turn your young life into a nightmare of loneliness, fear, rejection.
But Jesus is the one who can change our life around . A new journey with faith, love, and hope, and our lives are on a a new path for our Lord. Thank for the encouraging words and helping others realize that we are not alone in our journey. And how important it is to have others in our lives helping us and sharing with us how they to overcame, what they went through.
Thanks for sharing your kindergarten pic…how cute! It’s interesting how satan’s lies distort reality. Because were (and still are) a true beauty!
I always felt like the black sheep in my family. Like you I suffered the 3 I’s-inferiority, insecurity, and inadequateness. Thank you for this devotional. I really need to stay positive at all things..