Dear Ginger: Self-Perception

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

I was at the conference this weekend and your story really touched me. I have trouble with self-confidence. I always have trouble trying to find who I am. Or I’m never good enough. I play sports, but I’m never the best. There is a girl who called me a “fat seal” this year and that really hurt me. She’s bullied me since the 5th grade and this year I started cutting. I told my parents but I really need someone’s advice who has also struggled with not likening yourself. The very first night when you talked about how I’m God’s masterpiece. But I still haven’t figured out to deal with her because she constantly likes to bully me. I feel like I’m always worried about something or stressed. I tried making myself throw up, but it didn’t work so I didn’t try it again. I don’t like how I feel or look and I was wondering if you could help me. –M

Dear M,

There is so much packed into your letter. It sounds as if you are really overwhelmed by your world right now, and I don’t blame you. Any ONE of the things in your note would be enough to leave me anxious and worried. But you mentioned self-confidence, finding yourself, being good enough, bullying, cutting, identity, anxiety, self-destructive behaviors, and not liking how you feel or look.

I’m planning on responding to the issues you’ve raised, but I wanted to let you know that I’m going to break up my thoughts into at least two parts. The first will cover your own self-perception and the second response (next week) will concern the bullying aspect of your situation. I am so sorry that you’ve experienced such unkind words.


Right off the bat I’m hoping you had the chance to watch the video I shared in yesterday’s post. It’s a clip from a recent Dove Beauty Campaign. Here’s the link just in case.

I think this clip is picking up so much steam around social media because it speaks to a feeling we all have. We focus on our imperfections, weaknesses, and flaws. A six-minute video demonstrated so clearly how we can miss the big picture of who we are and how we are really perceived. Did you notice how age wasn’t a factor? These woman, whether 19 or 45, all struggled with this issue.

So first things first: you are not alone. It may seem as though the rest of us have this aspect of life together, but the truth is that all of us have our hard days where we doubt our beauty and worth. We let magazines, movies, and celebrities tell us what is beautiful and valuable. If we take marketing, media, and culture at face value we are left believing that this list is what makes you important:

Body type
Sex Appeal

Need I go on? It takes five minutes of channel surfing to discover what we are told to value. And that’s why what I’m about to tell you is going to seem so trite and simple, while at the same time controversial.

Trade the list.

I do not live up to the standards set by this world or Hollywood. My teeth will never be white enough, nor my thighs skinny enough to even come close. There was a time in my life when I was willing to trade anything to hit that standard of beauty. I was tanning, dyeing, whitening, dieting, and doing everything in between. But then my life became so inward focused that I was missing out on what would have brought true joy and value to my life. Yes, I could spend four hours in a gym every day and keep up a perfect weight and figure, but then I wouldn’t have time to do so many of the things that I actually love.

M, what do you love to do? Do you have gifts or passions? Do you love singing, reading, playing sports? I know you mentioned not feeling the best at anything, but I think a majority of us feel that way. I am not the best at anything. I have lots of 3rd place ribbons and honorable mentions to my name. I was not the valedictorian or the prom queen. I was never destined for American Idol, Olympic Trials, or the National Spelling Bee. In the grand scheme of blogs, mine has fairly low readership. But I had to decide along the way whether or not being the best at something was really my ultimate goal. It’s just not. I’ve had to let that one go. So instead, I just started doing what I love to do. I took my passion plus a desire to impact the lives of other people and that’s how I live my life. Can I tell you how freeing it is to stop trying to live up to someone else’s list?

Your value, purpose, and significance are deeply important in this life. The question is: where are you looking for those things?


“…Millions of people spend a lifetime searching for love, acceptance, and success without understanding the need that compels them. We must understand that this hunger for self-worth is God-given and can only be satisfied by Him. Our value is not dependent on our ability to earn the fickle acceptance of people, but rather, it’s true source is the love and acceptance of God. He created us. He alone knows how to fulfill all of our needs.” (Robert S. McGee, The Search for Significance)

At the conference I talked about our desire to be known and to know who we are. I truly believe that the source of that answer is found in our Heavenly Father. As the One who created you, He knows you very best. You have worth because He says so. There is nothing you could do to gain or lose His love. That is a promise we can take to the bank every day. I do not have to be successful or pleasing to others to have a healthy sense of worth. My worth comes to me from God. I read in His word over and over how He feels about each of us as His workmanship, His poeima, His masterpiece.

Worth It

In his book, The Search for Significance, (which I highly recommend) Robert McGee walks the reader through these same questions and issues. He makes a strong point in this diagram.

There are two possible options we can choose to determine our self-worth:

-The world’s system: Self-Worth = Performance (what you do) + Others’ Opinions (what others think or say about you)

-God’s system: Self-Worth = God’s Truth about you

M, I can’t make you know this just by saying so. This has been a long journey for me too, but so worth it in the end. I’m going to share some tips and resources through the rest of this week, but I want you to know that I am praying that you would turn to the One who knows you when everything on the outside says you don’t measure up. Please, please tell someone if you ever consider cutting or hurting yourself again. I am praying that your desire to hurt your body would disappear as you grasp the depths of His love for you.

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” (Ephesians 1:3-6, MSG)

For more on this topic check out these posts:

Dear Ginger: Uncomfortable in my Own Skin
Prove It!
Inside and Out
Fearfully and Wonderfully
True You: Self-Esteem
True You: Beautiful
God Looks at the Heart



No Comparison

Jennifer Roth



When I attended the She Speaks conference in North Carolina this summer I met hundreds of passionate, talented, and driven women. Jennifer Roth was one of those women! But more than just another face in the crowd, Jennifer was refreshingly friendly and engaging and I am so glad to say that I know her!

I received an e-mail from her last month asking if I would contribute a post to an on-line Bible Study she was hosting on her blog. I happily agreed and am excited to say that the post is up today. So I would love to encourage you to do three things. Here they are…

1. Check out Jennifer’s Blog and her “Stress Point” series from it’s beginnings. If you are looking for a great study this fall, this just might be the one for you!

2. Check out Sarah Francis Martin’s blog and book, “Stress Point”!

3. Check out the guest post inspired the self-image chapter of “Stress Point.”

Here’s a taste…

In the last verses of the gospel of John we find another interesting story about my favorite disciple, Peter. Peter the “speak first, think later” disciple was given a unique and individual call.

“Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

I don’t know how I would have responded, but Peter makes me wince.

“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:20-21, NIV)

Keep reading HERE.

Thanks for following, friends!


Prove It!

How many times have you thought or heard the following: it doesn’t matter what THEY think, it only matters what God thinks!?

It’s easy to turn that truth into a trite little saying, but here’s the thing… How God sees us should be the only opinion that matters – after all, He made us. He made us! Since we are His children, our identity should only be found in how He values us. He made us and loved us enough to give us free will, the choice to love Him or leave Him.

Let’s go back to the very beginning and get the story straight. God created us. It started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He gave them everything and told them simply to “Enjoy!” Sin entered the picture and because of that, Adam and Eve (and the rest of us from there on out) were exposed to death. We were separated from the God who created us. The penalty for Adam and Eve’s sin… and our sin is death; the payment is blood. Thankfully our Father considered us valuable enough to buy us back through the death of His son, Jesus.

Think about it this way: we determine the value of something by how much we are willing to spend. If I walk into a store intending to buy a flat iron, without having done any research on flat irons – I’m limited to two things: what the box says and how much the flat iron costs. Of course the box is going to talk up the product. I have yet to see the company gutsy enough to print: “Fairly decent flat iron. Let’s face it. You’re paying $20 for this. Don’t get your hopes up.” So if I can’t trust a box to tell me something more than the voltage and information about a warranty, I have to go by price. I immediately rule out the cheapest brand and if I have the money, I will probably take the top of the line. Why? The price indicates that this flat iron is worth the extra money. The value of the flat iron is indicated by the expense. While I may not be willing to spend $185 on a new flat iron, I certainly might be prepared to pay that amount for some new photo editing software. I place a higher value on my photos than a flat iron. (Let’s face it; my hair is already straight as a stick.)

Do you know how frustrating it is to lose something you just bought? I seem to do that with new pens. I have a certain kind I like – chosen for grip, writing ease, and ink flow. I get a package of three and sooner than I would like – they’re gone. I’d like to believe I’ve misplace them, but I know that my co-workers sometimes just need a pen and they reach for one off my desk. I don’t think anyone intentionally steals my pens, I just think they forget to put them back. But imagine my frustration if I watched someone take and use my pen and then only agree to give it back if I paid them a fee. I already paid for MY pen once; no way I’m doing that again… especially if they raise the price.

I’m notorious for shouting the phrase, “prove it!” to my friends when they make a bold statement. Usually I’m joking around, but sometimes I want them to put their money where their mouth is. “I can run a five minute mile!” My response? “Prove it!”

God proved how much He valued us by what He was willing to spend. You can shout “prove it!” all you want and He will always have the best response ready for you. Remember, He already owned us once before. He bought us again with the life and death of His only son, Jesus. Jesus had done nothing wrong to deserve punishment, and yet He died in our place. He died for me. He died for you. The cost of that sacrifice shows that you are a priceless treasure of the King of Kings. The gift of His son Jesus demonstrates God’s great love for us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

You are valuable. I am valuable. He’s proven that fact once and for all.


True You: Beautiful

“As people who have been created by God, we are infinitely precious to Him because we are His creation. Regardless of our outward appearance, we are all made with that spiritual potential to relate directly to Him, spirit to Spirit…

You may not look so favourably on your outward appearance, but when God looks at you, He sees His beautiful daughter. While God cares deeply about our own personal struggles with our outward appearances, whatever they may be, He cares even more for you.”

― Corallie Buchanan, Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
    Forget your people and your father’s house.
The king is enthralled by your beauty; 
    honor him, for he is your lord.” (Psalm 45:10-11)

We are continuing to explore the work of the Master Craftsman this week. I hope you’ll join the conversation…


God Looks At the Heart

Thanks to a thoughtful question by H, we are spending this week reminding ourselves how perfectly God created each of us and how deeply He loves us.

As I considered how to respond to H’s question, I couldn’t help but think of the many times in my own life when I have felt ashamed or upset because I couldn’t make myself live up to the standard of our culture’s beauty.

I remember the start of 4th grade as if it were yesterday. Our classroom was oddly located overlooking the school gym, making concentration next to impossible if any other class happened to make their way to P.E. during a test. The carpet was peach and we had windows that also faced the back parking lot and soccer fields.

I can’t recall what I wore on the first day of school, but I vividly remember a boy walking up to me quite candidly and piping up that “My dad said you got fat this summer.

Not, “How was your summer?” or “I wonder what 4th grade will be like?” or even “I don’t know what to think of Mrs. So and So.” Not only do I wonder what compelled the boy to share this information, but I also wonder what made his father decide to proclaim that message to his son. One sentence and I carry it always. Isn’t it amazing how hearing from others can affect how we feel about ourselves?

It’s the inside that counts”… right? But I care a lot about what other people think. I mean, we want to look a certain way, be in the right group, say the right things. And sometimes that goes well for us, but other times it just… doesn’t.

I remember being in school and loving recess. Any good game requires selecting teams. And how do we usually pick teams? Team captains. Being team captain was awesome. You got to pick your friends and the really good players. But any time you played and it wasn’t your best friend as the captain, or it was a sport you weren’t really good at… bad news, right?

You watch as everyone starts calling out names. You just cross your fingers and hope. Please oh please let my name be called next! I’ll be better than last time. I promise! And still you weren’t called. Who wants to be picked last? Not me. Not most of us. It’s hard when it feels like everyone is judging you based on how you look. Most people care about the outside. And that even includes people who really love God… like His prophets.

There was a prophet of God named Samuel. God actually came to Samuel and said that he was supposed to go and pick the next King of Israel. We can find that story in 1 Samuel Chapter 16. God told him to go to the city of Bethlehem and to find a man named Jesse. When Samuel came to Bethlehem he found Jesse and his eight sons. Samuel told Jesse that he wanted to worship God together with all of his sons and then eat a meal together. That sounded like a good idea, so Jesse called all of his sons together…or at least most of them.

So Jesse comes back to meet up with Samuel and his first son walks in and Samuel thinks to himself, “This has got to be the new King! Just look at this guy! He’s huge!”

But God told Samuel “Looks aren’t everything. You can’t just be impressed by the outside. This is not the guy I’ve picked to be king. Men look at the outside, but God looks on the inside… I look into their hearts. So, Eliab, the first son turns out to not be the King, but Samuel didn’t have time to worry, because Jesse’s next son, Abinadab showed up to be introduced. Even though Abinadab was handsome, Samuel knew that Abinadab wasn’t God’s choice for king either.

Next came Shammah. Samuel got pretty excited, because Shammah was a good dresser and looked the way a king should. But, Samuel realized that Shammah wasn’t going to be the King either. This went on and on with the next four son’s of Jesse. They were strong, warriors, smart, and even fun to be around. But God did not choose any of these seven sons of Jesse.

Samuel turned to Jesse and said, “Don’t you have any other sons?” Jesse did have another son, but he was so young and inexperienced that they hadn’t even told him about the dinner. David, the youngest, was out taking care of the family sheep.

The other sons of Jesse must have been pretty surprised to hear that Samuel wanted to meet the runt of the family who was just a shepherd boy. Everyone was getting pretty hungry, but Samuel told them they weren’t moving or eating until someone sent for David. 

Check out 1 Samuel 16:12-13. “Jesse sent for him. He was brought in… God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.”

When Samuel came to choose the next king of Israel he thought he would pick the biggest son of Jesse. He then thought he would choose the athlete, or the guy who dressed like a king. But God had something else in mind. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” Jesse’s youngest son, David, was out tending sheep. He hadn’t been brought in to meet Samuel with the rest of his brothers. David probably felt left out… maybe even purposeless.

David was Samuel’s last pick, but he wasn’t God’s last pick. God chose David out of all of Jesse’s sons, out of all the men of Israel, to be KING. God picked the right man for the job. Even more amazing, God has chosen us to do mighty things for Him.

The Bible says that even before your mom knew she was going to have you, God picked you. God loves each of us just the way we are. I’m claiming that promise today… and for my fourth grade self.


True You: In Dating

There was an ad campaign by Dr. Pepper that launched in 2002. “Be you. Drink Dr. Pepper.” Sounds great, right? It’s catchy and points to the American ideal of being an individual. Take a closer look. Be you… Drink Dr. Pepper. Problem: I don’t drink Dr. Pepper. I never have. I moved from RC Cola to Coke and then Diet Coke. I’ve never been a “pepper.”

I’ve always been a Ginger. ;)

That’s why it’s so important for me to share this point in our True You series: Be yourself… even if it means losing the guy.

I know it sounds totally cheesy and like it’s part of a school assembly, but hear me out.

I’m a random, unique individual. I know that. My family certainly knows that. My friends know that. I’ve been in a few relationships where I honestly felt like I had to alter my personality and interests for a guy. I felt nervous about the relationship in the first place and so I tried to over-compensate by picking up new hobbies and even changed the way I dressed. It wasn’t fun. I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong to end our relationship. It was so much pressure.

But now I can honestly say that I am in a relationship where I can be the quirky, ridiculous dreamer that I was created to be. My husband not only accepts my goofiness, he loves it. (He tells me this frequently.) Can I tell you how freeing it is to be loved for just being me?

Question for you: If you had to do something to get a guy to notice you or accept you in the first place, what are you going to have to do to keep the guy?

My friend, please don’t be in a relationship where you have to constantly second-guess yourself. Be confident in who you are. If you constantly worry that you aren’t smart enough, funny enough, cute enough, athletic enough… whatever – it’s not the relationship for you. You deserve to be cherished for who you are, not who you are pretending to be.

“I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know this very well.”
Psalm 139:14, NCV

Be YOU. Embrace the you He created.

– –

Have you ever tried to be someone you’re not in order to get someone to like you? How did that turn out?


p.s. A version of this post appeared in April of 2007.


True You.

We are starting a brand new series that has everything to do with being the unique YOU God created you to be. When we swim in that freedom we will also learn to stop hiding, start sharing, and drop down our walls. I’m preaching to myself, the queen of holding everyone at arm’s length! Here’s the set up:

True You from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Make-up off.
Guards down.
Masks removed.
True you.

“You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.”
― Max Lucado, The Christmas Candle

– – –

I find that I struggle most with being vulnerable when I’m intimidated by other women, especially women in my peer group.

Do you find it hard to be your true self with others? 



Belonging with an E.

“There’s such a lot of different Anne’s in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” L.M. Montgomery, (Anne of Green Gables)

We had one copy of “Anne of Green Gables” TV movie. It was a VHS recording of a PBS special. The tracking was awful… but I didn’t care.

I remember watching the ENTIRE movie for the first time when I caught the chicken pox in first grade. I loved those puff sleeves just as much as Anne did. I desperately wanted to recite poetry and wear a rose in my hair.

I auditioned for the role of Anne for my high school play in 10th grade and was cast as Diana Barry. Six weeks before the show Anne had to step down from the role… and suddenly I was dying my hair red and practicing new lines.

I love Anne – her tantrums, her fears, her romantics, her growth into a strong young woman. Montgomery created a character who is brimming with fire, passion, and a deep desire to belong.

We all have multiple versions of ourselves during our lifetime. Some die away as we mature (thankfully) and others are changed and shaped by outside circumstances… and still others (the dancing, twirling, singing at the top of our lungs in an empty house) only see the light of day when we are all alone.

I’ve made my way to a totally new chapter of life.  In the last year and a half I have changed jobs, churches, zip codes, and last names. It’s sometimes pretty challenging to decide which Anne is going to take the stage. I’d like to go all in right away, but I feel like I need to find my footing first… just like I did in 1st grade, 9th grade, as a freshman in college, or when I started my first job… or moved to Arizona… or met my husband for our first date.

After a lot of trial and error, I’m slowly beginning to understand how to accept all the different “Gingers” in me.

I think I can embrace who I am when I remember whose I am and the care He put into making me… the only me.

You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Psalm 139:14-16, MSG

Here’s to all the Annes in us, and the God who knows and loves them all.

Following and Listening,

Who am I?

seventy-one by Lois A. Cheney

Once, I prayed,
Who am I?
If only I knew who I was.
If only I knew what I could do.
And I prayed more earnestly,
Who am I?
If only I knew, faith would come.
If only I knew, strength would spread.
If only I knew, I could
work and serve and grow.
And I demanded in prayer
Who am I?
And he smiled,
And said,
“It is enough that I know,
Follow me.”
And I did

It is enough that He knows who I am… it must be enough!

It is only when I place my identity, dependency, and hope on Him that I even begin to know who I am.  What matters is who I am in Him.

On my own I am broken, arrogant, desperate, and searching.

In Him I am victorious, humbled, loved, and satisfied.

My job is not who I am.  My friendships and relationships are not who I am.  My talents aren’t who I am.  My name isn’t who I am.  I am, plain and simply, a child of God.  How refreshing.  How encouraging.  How challenging.

I hope and pray that your spiritual journey, wherever you are on that road, is grounded on your identity in Him.  How He sees, loves, and saves is the only thing that counts.