Category Archives: Emotions

Beauty / Comparison / Emotions / Feminism / Womanhood

Edith Stein, the Emotional Life, and Comparison

August 9, 2017

 Happy Feast Day of St. Edith Stein!

“The world doesn’t need what women have; it needs what women are.”

St. Edith Stein (a.k.a. Teresa Blessed by the Cross) is one of my heroes and her words inspired me to launch this site.  Her work researching phenomenology and trying to understand the anthropology of woman remain so necessary for a truly proper understanding and appreciation of the gift and beauty of what it means to be a woman.  If you’re super interested in learning more, click here for the link to a podcast I recorded a few years back with a dear friend Erin Franco about Authentic Feminism.

I hope soon to write a post for you about the life of Edith Stein.  In honor of her feast, though, I just wanted to let you know that this blog is going to be a bit more active.  Besides writing more posts, I am inviting different women into this space to share their stories with us.  All of these women are rockstars in my book, but each uniquely lives out her feminine genius in her own way and in her own unique season of life.

One of my goals for this blog is to invite you deeper into the reality of who you are.  There is no one-size-fits-all box of expectation for any of you.

I hope simply to inspire you to be you. 

As different women share their stories, you will see the many different ways that women live out their beauty in the “everyday” and the “ordinary.”

Also in light of today’s feast, I wanted to share with you a little nugget of truth from St. Edith Stein about our emotions.  Edith wrote a lot about the richness of a woman’s emotional life.  She recognizes woman’s emotions as one of her great gifts.  Still, she reveals the strength woman can discover in the power of her emotions when she learns to order her emotions to her reason.  Sometimes we can get carried away by our emotions; experiences and circumstances can feel overwhelming.

Through both her intellectual awareness of a woman’s emotions and her personal experience of “feeling” her own emotions, Edith is inviting us to realize that our emotions are sometimes a  response to our perception of reality.

Our emotions are not always a reaction to reality itself.

After talking with multiple women these past several months about this topic, I have noticed specifically how loud the distraction of comparison can be and how it rears its ugly head in different ways for different women, especially based on one’s season of life.

Now, as a woman who is used to relying upon her understanding, it should come as no surprise that one of the theme verses of my life happens to be must be and so is Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and rely not upon your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

In many of my recent conversations, I have been struck by the power that our perceptions can have over us. I, too, have fallen prey to this, and the more I become aware of it, the more I realize my need to order my perceptions to be in line with reality.

But what is reality? Specifically, what is the reality of all these women around me who are struggling to become who they’re meant to be while simultaneously striving to love who they are.


In reality.

This post might seem random (welcome to the way my mind works), but I just wanted to throw out the reminder to all those women out there who feel like they can’t measure up or are never chosen or are never seen—you are not invisible.

You are not invisible.

I remember reading a really powerful post by Blessed is She over a year ago about allowing our circumstances to name us instead of our God. I literally took out my journal as the reflection prompted and asked myself what names I was assuming as reality and living from, based solely on my circumstances…or really, my perception of my circumstances.

Then, I had to write the truth–words from Scripture–that spoke against those statements. I remember that having those words to combat the distractions of my perceptions–the lies of my perceived circumstances–were so powerful in freeing me to be present to my reality.

The words of Scripture were the only words powerful enough to free me to be me.  Amazing, right?  …but that’s actually a promise of the Father.

“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it”         (Isaiah 55:11).

One of my favorite movies (which you should all watch no matter your age) is the recent remake of “Cinderella” (2015).  At the end of the movie (spoiler alert…maybe) as Cinderella is freed from the tower imprisoning her, she walks down a set of stairs to meet the Prince and have her turn at trying on the glass slipper. On her way, she first stops and looks in a mirror, almost to remember who she is. As she gazes upon her own reflection, the narrator asks the question that so many of us ask as we stand before another, especially in front of those whom we love or whom we desire to take notice of us or love us.

“Would who she was, who she really was, be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. Perhaps that is the greatest risk that any of us can take…to be seen as we truly are.”

I don’t know about you, but to be seen as I truly am is perhaps one of the most intimidating concepts for me. I have my own stuff:  annoying habits and struggles and weaknesses just like everyone else. The thought of revealing to someone else those struggles…in reality…is a little scary.

…and yet, there truly is a time and a place for such kind of revelations. I remember sharing with my students and with different young women I’ve spoken to over the years that our struggles and traumas and hurts are our pearls, just as much as our joys and dreams. It isn’t that our pearls don’t shine or reflect the light; it’s just that such pearls are meant for eyes that can see and ears that can hear.

In my season of life, I am realizing that my struggles as a woman, especially with comparison, are not unique to me. Not only that, but also that though these struggles may change form, the crux of the struggle remains for many women.  Often its form just depends on one’s season of life.

“Am I beautiful?”…becomes “Am I as beautiful as she?”

“Am I good?”…becomes “Am I as good as she?”

“Am I a good mother (etc.)?”…becomes “Am I as good a mother as she?”

In a world of a constant influx of data and images and streaming, one can easily be overwhelmed, becoming so distracted and focused on the barrage of images instead of on the reality in front of you.

Ladies, may we have the grace to remember that there is a difference between being invisible and being hidden. To be invisible means that no part of me can be seen in any way, but to be hidden means for me that there is some purpose behind the hidden-ness.

To be hidden is to be veiled.

For a time.

For a purpose.

For a reality that is perhaps bigger than even I can understand.

So for those of you that feel invisible (but are really just hidden), I understand how you’re feeling because I feel the same way.  …though my emotions experience this, what is my reality?  This is not solely about what I feel, but this is primarily about seeing reality as it is.

So what is the reality?

You are seen.

You are known.

You are chosen.

You are loved.

You are good.

You are beautiful.

Our Father sees and knows every movement of our hearts, and it is His pleasure “to give us the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

…so for every baby you’ve rocked to sleep, thank you.  He sees you.

…for every friend whom you’ve comforted while carrying your own sadness, thank you.  He sees you.

…for every offering of love that has gone unnoticed or unappreciated, thank you.  He sees you.

…for every friend you’ve chosen to celebrate with joy–fighting against the lies that you will never be chosen–thank you.  He sees you.

…for every time you’ve been tempted to post this or that picture simply so as not to be forgotten, thank you for not giving into that temptation and choosing to live the really real.  He sees you.

You are not invisible. 

Truth is a sturdy foundation on which we can stand tall and with confidence.  Our lives and existence have a purpose.  His plan for us is even bigger than we can imagine.

“No eye has seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.”

So the next time you’re tempted to doubt your being seen, slow down your thoughts for a second and take a deep breath.  Check yourself and ask, “What is reality?”

…not “What do I feel right now?” because our emotions are not always in line with reality.

…not “Why can’t I look like that or be like that or act like that?” because comparison is the surest way to despair and completely misses the mark.

…but instead “What is reality?”

Reality is Truth.

You are seen.

You are known.

You are chosen.

You are loved.

You are good.

You are beautiful.

Dare to take the risk and be seen as you truly are.

Dare to take the risk and be you.

That’s authentic beauty.  That’s reality.

That’s what this world actually needs more of–women unafraid to be who they are.

Talk about moving mountains 🙂

St. Edith Stein