Friends, I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Kim Goad. Kim’s newest book Inked, co-authored with Janet Bostwick Kusiak, explores the messages that mark our lives. Read along as Kim and I chat about how we can experience wholeness by grounding our worth and identity in the Truth.
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Welcome, Kim! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.
I have a passion for helping others find their true mark – whether it’s helping companies with their marketing and business development practices, or using my counseling background to help others find God’s true mark for their lives. In my dream world, I’m doing it all while hiking or traveling the globe.
You recently co-authored the book Inked which is all about “Choosing God’s Mark to Transform Your Life.” It uses tattoos as a metaphor for how we can understand our identity in Christ. So, let’s get this out of the way first. Do you have a tattoo? If so, what is it?
No! I brave a needle about once a year when I need a shot for a poison ivy breakout (even that once resulted in passing out in the doctor’s office with the needle still in my hip), and I can’t even commit to a hair color! But I have a fascination with tattoos and, like everyone, I’ve been marked by life nonetheless.
To build upon this metaphor, I think many of us feel marked — labeled — by things we didn’t choose. Marked by pain or shame from our past, by others’ expectations or judgments, by cultural definitions of our value. Why do you think this is such a struggle for women? Why is it so hard to strip these “marks” away from our sense of identity?
It’s a struggle for everyone. We’re learning more and more about how our brains are shaped by our thoughts, or others’ words and actions. However, I do think women have unique challenges when it comes to identity. For example, research shows others observe men’s successes and women’s successes differently. If a man is successful, we tend to attribute it to his skill. If a woman is successful, we tend to attribute it to luck.
When something goes wrong, men tend to attribute the blame to external causes, where women tend to internalize the blame. Here’s the good news, though, male or female: Research also shows that we are capable of changing the negative and harmful patterns. But, of course, as Christians, we’ve always known that. The apostle Paul urged first century Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. It isn’t always easy, but it is possible.
In Inked you write, “Every day, we have the opportunity to choose good markings. To be made new.” What do you mean by that? Practically speaking, how can a woman move toward embracing God’s truth about her value and identity?
If you walk into a tattoo shop, “flash” is the art you see hanging on the walls or in binders. It’s like clip art; the opposite of custom. Most tattoo artists tell us they prefer to do custom work. And so does God. It takes more work, but it’s much more interesting and one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. It starts with “taking every thought captive,” rejecting the flash, and replacing it with the truth and custom work God has designed for our lives.
In Inked, we give a few practical ways to do this, but here’s a good start: Based on Philippians 4:8, make a list of at least twenty things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy about yourself. Memorize the list. Whenever you start to have an untrue thought about yourself, immediately replace it with an item from your list.
This month on my blog we’re talking about what it means to be “whole” in Christ. Part of this sense of wholeness comes from seeing how God works in and through our brokenness to create something beautiful. Why do you think it’s important to really face our own brokenness?
Facing our brokenness allows us to let God begin the healing and to turn it around for something better – as the prophet Isaiah wrote, to make something beautiful out of the ashes. One of my favorite stories in the book is about our friend Lilly. Once broken by an abusive relationship and marked by shame and pain, she fell into a cycle of cutting and carved a derogatory and sexually-charged word on her own thigh. Once Lilly confronted her brokenness and let God “re-ink” her identity, she covered up her physical scars with a tattoo of a colorful tiger lily – also her childhood nickname and a symbol for her of hope and innocence. Now, she uses her story to minister to young women about their identity in Christ.
In Inked, you encourage readers to realize that they are each a “custom work created by a Master Artist.” You challenge us to “allow the Master Artist to do His work on you so that you can become a showcase for God’s glory.” What difference has it made in your own life to start viewing your life in this way?
My Great-Aunt Bea, now in her eighties, has been a huge Christian influence on me and has passed on a family story that is etched on my heart. When she was thirteen, her family experienced three tragedies: her grandfather and family patriarch died, their house burned down, and her 23 year-old brother and family hero was shot down and killed in his WWII fighter plane – all in the course of three months. Upon hearing this last news, my great-grandfather gathered his crying children around and said, “We can wallow in this, or we can turn it into a blessing. And we’re not wallowers.” Aunt Bea says it took her years to understand how such tragedy could be turned into a blessing, but now she understands how God has used such events in her life to allow her to be a blessing to others.
Like everyone, I could choose to wallow about any number of negative events from my life. Here’s one example: After experiencing infertility, being childless used to be a major source of pain for me. On the heels of my divorce, I cried out to God that I needed Him to give me a clear purpose for living. That week, I received three phone calls from people asking me to help with different events involving youth. Now, I’ve written books for young people, led them on mission trips and Bible studies, spoken to them on retreats, counseled them, and co-developed a camp for young girls that continues to this day. One night, at camp, I stood in the back of the gym listening to campers’ testimonies and tears flowed as I clearly heard God say to my spirit: “See? You’re not ‘childless.’ I have given you hundreds of children.”
That’s how the Master Artist does His work on you so that you can become a showcase for His glory.