From the outside, she has it all together. She’s committed to her family, her friends, and her church. Her Instagram account is an inspiration. But behind every carefully worded post and perfectly posed picture is a woman tormented by the voice in her head: Am I pretty enough? Smart enough? Thin enough? Good enough? Successful enough? Am I ever enough?
Author and speaker Elizabeth Oates knows that voice all too well. In her new book, If You Could See As Jesus Sees
, (January 2016, Shiloh Run Press) Oates guides women to abandon their negative self-image and begin viewing themselves through a different lens-the sustaining love and character of Christ. “Since I was a child, I constantly wrestled with feelings of self-loathing and self-doubt. I have a hunch that I’m not alone in this struggle,” Oates says. “I think most women-from ages ten to one hundred-wrestle with feelings of inadequacy, doubt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and even self-loathing at some point in their lives. We scorn our bodies, our faces, or our hair. Maybe we even dislike ourselves at our core: our personalities, our gifts, our talents, and our souls. So we spend days, if not years, comparing ourselves to our friends or media celebrities and daydreaming about a different life.”
Oates traces womankind’s ongoing self-worth dilemma back to Eve’s encounter with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Just as Eve believed his lies about God and herself, so do women today view themselves through warped lenses of self-loathing, ugliness, shame, inadequacy, isolation, discontentment, instead of Jesus’ lenses of love, beauty, redemption, belonging, and generosity. This distorted view of self-worth is often fed by both mainstream media and social media, and Christian women are not immune to its pressures.
“Have you ever mindlessly surfed Facebook, only to shut your laptop, feeling lonely, useless, and discouraged? I know I have. It seems everyone around me has her life figured out. Everyone has a great career. Everyone is popular. Everyone takes vacations. Everyone’s kids are all-stars,” Oates says. “Meanwhile, the mainstream media floods our culture with impossible and ever-changing standards of beauty. Now, more than ever, women need to see themselves through the unchanging truth of Jesus’ lens.”
With humor and grace, Oates explores the common factors that negatively influence a woman’s selfimage. Topics include competition with others, shame over past decisions or memories of past abuse, body image, unforgiveness, rejection, disappointment with life circumstances, and feelings of inadequacy. Oates combines a conversational style and transparency regarding her own self-worth struggles with the “corrective lens” of solid biblical teaching.
If You Could See As Jesus Sees is an ideal resource for a small group bible study. Each chapter concludes with a set of questions for both individual and group study. Oates also includes several meaningful exercises that will guide readers in confronting some harsh, sometimes painful truths about their thought patterns, unhealthy behaviors, and relationships. As they bring those hidden things to light, women can experience real transformation through Christ.
“The time to step out of the darkness and into the light is now,” Oates says. “Together, as we lean into Jesus and embrace His truth, we can begin to see as Jesus sees.”
If You Could See As Jesus Sees
January 2016 / 978-1-63409-512-9 / $14.99
Shiloh Run Press
Biography of Elizabeth Oates
Author, If You Could See as Jesus Sees
Elizabeth Oates is an author and speaker who encourages, inspires, and equips a new generation of women seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. She is a cliché Generation Xer from a broken home who once searched for purpose and significance apart from Jesus Christ. Today she devotes her life to spreading the message that we are not defined by our past; our God is bigger than our broken family trees and stronger than the sins that weigh us down.
Elizabeth’s own story is an example of God’s redeeming power. “My family tree has been plagued with divorce for generations. Along with this marital unrest came addiction, abuse, abandonment, and general dysfunction. Yet over the years, I have learned that I am more than just divorce. At my core, I am a restored child of God,” she says.
Elizabeth lives out her faith and passion not only through her writing but in hands-on ministry as well. She and her husband offer pre-marital education to engaged couples through Legacy Family Ministries and also founded Project Restoration Ministry, which offers affordable Christian counseling and mentoring for married couples in Central Texas.
Elizabeth’s writing includes a Bible study for teens, Dealing with Divorce: Finding Direction When Your Parents Split Up. Since 2008 she has written a monthly faith column for Waco Today Magazine, and she regularly blogs about life and faith. Elizabeth is among the experts featured in the DivorceCare DVD curriculum along with Dave Ramsey, Anne Graham Lotz, and others. She earned a B.A. from Baylor University and received her M.A. in Christian Education with a focus in Marriage and Family Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.
In her “free time,” Elizabeth enjoys reading, rich conversation with friends, and watching God work miracles through the mundane. She and her husband live in Waco with their biological children and their foster daughter, who they will officially adopt in 2016.