The Beauty of Belonging {Real Conversations Series}

Abby McDonald epitomizes the word “real.” She has a heart for sharing the deep roots of her faith and the roads she daily travels as a wife, mom, and woman of God. Abby’s faith is no cookie-cutter Christianity—hers is lived out embracing imperfection, in spite of personal struggle, and with great hope in God’s promise to never leave our side. I welcome you to join us at the table, to allow Abby’s heart story to meet yours, and share with us in some Real Conversation…

Real Conversations

There is a vast difference between hearing words and actually believing them. For most of my life, I did the former.

To say I took things with a grain of salt was an understatement. I used the entire shaker.

My grandmother never missed an opportunity to tell me I was beautiful. I would give her an obligatory smile and think as her grandchild, she was required to say that. I didn’t see what she saw.

I measured my worth by my ability to perform and to please others.

But beauty? It was too subjective. Too personal. So when I heard pastors preach on grace and tell me God wanted a personal relationship with me, the concept felt foreign. The Creator of the Universe wanted to know me? What did I have to offer Him?

My unbelief led me down a road of poor decisions and an endless search for love in places that could never fill me. To say I was a mess would be an understatement.

I only shared the version of me I thought would be accepted and wondered why my life felt empty and aimless.

I floated from one relationship to another, wondering why this deep ache inside me was never satiated by anything I did.

I projected my insecurities onto others; I pushed them further away.

When I was in my twenties, God sent me someone who stayed. Even when he saw the flaws, quirks, and frailties, his resolve was unmoved.

After marriage, a cross-country move and the delivery of our first child, he saw darkness in me I was sure would send him running. Postpartum depression consumed me and I flailed for something familiar in a world which seemed foreign and lonely.

I was failing in all of the ways I based my worth. I couldn’t perform as a new wife and mother. Most days, I couldn’t even get my baby to stop crying. On days when I didn’t think I could make it another round, I would simply place my head on the pillow and say, “Help me, God.”

There wasn’t one “aha” moment or lightning bolt, but there were steady strokes of grace.

Abby - Graphic

Each time God reached out through a person, a printed word, or gesture, my heart softened. A year after my son was born, I sat in a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting and realized I didn’t have to perform to be loved.

I could just be me.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were,
then grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6

I listened to stories of sleepless nights and temper tantrums. I saw women be vulnerable and real so His light could shine though them, unhindered by the front of self-sufficiency.

When we are transparent with each other, God’s supernatural love takes tangible form. [<==== Click to Tweet]

We see Him in the sunrise and in the majesty of mountain peaks, but one of the greatest ministries Jesus has given us here on earth is relationships. After all, He gave up His omnipresence and heavenly home to become human; to have a relationship with each one of us.

As I saw my husband’s steadfast love and the authenticity of my new community, I began to see myself as God did for the very first time. And what I now see fully is this:

I am not beautiful because someone else says I am. I am beautiful because I am His.

Abby - BioPicAbby McDonald is a mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

My friends and I invite you to join us over the next few weeks for more Real Conversation. If you’ve missed any so far, we welcome you in:

Who Would Be Beside You? {Real Conversations Series: Intro}
Being Independent Doesn’t Have to Leave You Lonely {Real Conversations: Meredith Bernard}

You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots:  Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Kelly Balarie (#raralinkup), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday), Bonnie Gray (#faithbarista), and Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory).

Lighthouse Photo Credit (Design by Abby McDonald)

43 thoughts on “The Beauty of Belonging {Real Conversations Series}

  1. Yes, Abby…we are beautiful because we are HIS! LOVED this post. I could relate so much to the feeling that I had to perform to please people and to earn love. Also the inability to grasp the Lord’s love for me. Your story encourages me in a huge way. Thank you!

    1. It seems that feeling about performance and earning approval is one many of us (me too!) struggle with. So glad that our God of grace prizes us as precious and chosen no matter what we’ve done or have yet to do. I’m so glad that Abby’s words encouraged you today, Angela.

  2. I can relate so much to this, not only as a “performer” but with PPD as well. Thank you for being real.

    1. There are quite a few of us that relate to performance issues. We like to keep it real around Simply for One and it’s always a delight to have you join the conversation.

  3. God’s gentle light shines through each and everyone of us through the power of the Holy Spirit. What a blessing your testimony was to read. I’m thankful for the transparent moments in life; reading your post is a reminder of how important it is to be authentic. :)

    1. I’m so glad you were blessed here. When we’re authentic we allow people to love our real selves, and what is better than that? Thanks for visiting today!

  4. Vulnerability is such a hard thing but so necessary to see through those walls that woman build up. Vulnerability seems to be the door that allows relationships to get real and for God to step in and heal. Just laying on that bed calling out for God’s help was a vulnerable moment. You have a beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing. Love Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    1. Oh, thank you Rachel! I never thought about that moment on the bed being vulnerable but you are right. I am so glad you stopped by today.

  5. That whole transparent thing… l LOVE that. There is nothing else more tangible, more real, more God reaching through others to touch our hearts that being willing to connect and relate through the transparency of His grace consuming our lives and overtaking all that we surrender.

    Beautiful words, Abby!

  6. Tiffany, what a WONDERFUL idea for a series! I love it. Abby, your words, as always, are so spot on. I’m breathing in deep that truth that “I’m beautiful because I am His.” So good to remember. Goes right along with my verse for today: We are God’s TREAURED possession. (Deut. 7:6)

    1. Thank you for visiting us, Betsy…you are always such a beautiful blessing and encouragement. The series is ministering to me and I’m thrilled that He is meeting others through it. Hugs!

  7. Hey ladies, as always your words are so soothing each week… love you both, and Tiffany, this series is such a gift! Abby, your writing always arrests some part of my soul and reveals more of His loving kindness!

  8. Yes Abby you are beautiful because God says you are! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. Tiffany, what a great series! Love it!!

    1. Thanks, Tara. I’m so overjoyed by what God is doing with the little seed He planted in my heart…and the friends He’s brought alongside for the journey. Thank YOU for being here.

    2. I am loving this series too and so blessed to be a part of it. Thanks for your warm words, Tara. You make my heart smile.

  9. Abby- I love this. What a perfect illustration of what we all long for… to be truly known and loved anyway. God’s “steady strokes of grace” painted the gospel with your story… and when we can step back now, it’s so beautiful. Thanks for your honest and well-crafted words. They truly blessed me. Love your heart, friend! :)

    1. Karen, you are such an encouragement to me. When we finally get it, that we don’t have to earn his love, it truly does change us. And it’s then that we’re transformed. Love you and your heart too! xoxo

  10. Oh Abby, how I love your beautiful story of grace. I can very much relate to looking for acceptance in all of the wrong places. So thankful for God’s redeeming work in both of our lives and for your willingness to invite us into your mess…because girl, we all have our own mess. Love you!

  11. Such encouraging thoughts! It’s so nice to be reminded that God does not love us because of what we do or who we may become -He just loves us for who we are now. It’s nice to know that other woman have such similar thoughts and feelings. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Amen, Rebekah. It makes me love him all the more, knowing I don’t have to perform or measure up. There’s no way I ever could! Thanks for being here today.

  12. Hi Abby,
    I am encouraged by your words and blessed by your quote, “When we are transparent with each other, God’s supernatural love takes tangible form.” Sometimes it sure seems like a fight for freedom – to freely be authentic to the woman He’s designed us to be and yet free enough to simply ‘just be’ in the moments we feel we’re falling so short.
    I too have, “measured my worth by my ability to perform and to please others.” Thankfully, God’s infinite love for us can not be measured.
    And the more I believe I’m loved because I’m His, the more I walk with inner liberty not striving to perform, but secure to “just be me”. Thank-you for these words Abby.
    (Just a lil side note: one of the meanings of your name is – Father’s joy!)

    1. So true, Jess – authenticity doesn’t always come natural to us. We feel pressured by external value and worth. But God … how He longs for that honest relationship with us, where we willingly lay down ourselves, and pick up the person He has knit together in all her imperfect beauty. Abby has captured how amazing His love is and the freedom and fellowship that comes when we embrace that love and shine for Him. Looking forward to having your words here, next week, friend. I know He’ll shine through you!

    2. I am so blessed by your words here today, Jessica! Yes, I’ve thought about the meaning of my name a few times and how much names mean to God. He really is into the details, isn’t he? Thank you for visiting today. You have lifted my spirit with your encouragement.

  13. visiting from #TestimonyTuesday next door. I love this post, it’s so vulnerable, and yes transparent. I love your quote about this! I love how God brought you a man who let you be just you, and how God’s grace showed your how much you’re loved!

    1. It’s amazing how even during those dark periods of our lives God keeps pursuing us. He is relentless in his love. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement today.

  14. What a great word, Abby! I love your honesty and your gracious words. Isn’t it amazing how much love we have to share when we really understand God’s love for us.

    I tweeted this quote from your post, “When we are transparent with each other, God’s supernatural love takes tangible form.”

    Your words have ministered to my heart today.

    I came over on RaRa, and I’m glad to find your site.
    Hope you will have a blessed day~

    1. Melanie, you have blessed ME with your sweet words today and I always love hearing from the #RaRaLinkup girls. Yes, I think understanding even just a little of how much God loves us is so key to how we love others. Thank you for visiting here.

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