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Kia Stephens

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April 17, 2017

To the Woman With Father Wounds

April 17, 2017 | By | 8 Comments

I was wasting time on Facebook when my emotions made an unannounced visit.  Out of nowhere they instigated the worst ugly cry of 2017.  There I was, innocently scrolling through images when I stumbled across an article about Simone Biles and Sasha Farber’s waltz to You’re A Good Good Father on Dancing with the Stars.

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Kia Stephens

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April 10, 2017

What To Do When God is Silent

April 10, 2017 | By | 2 Comments

As much as I hate to admit it, I have trust issues.  Showing up at the most undesirable times, they’ve caused me to question my friends, my spouse, and even GPS.  Generally, I’m okay as long as there is some form of communication, but it’s in the silence when I start to lose it.

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Kia Stephens

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December 20, 2016

When Life Is Unresolved

December 20, 2016 | By | 8 Comments

I just love closure. Don’t you?

The End of an Argument

A Paid Off Bill

A Happy Ending

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Kia Stephens

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August 8, 2016

4 Reasons Why Men Don’t Father (Part I)

August 8, 2016 | By | 4 Comments

It’s hard to imagine why a man would not father his child.  I can still remember the Cheshire cat grin that spanned the width of my husband’s face when he found out we were pregnant with our first child.  I have watched this same excitement dictate his engagement in the lives of our boys.

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Kia Stephens

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July 11, 2016

5 Questions White & Black People Must Ask

July 11, 2016 | By | 6 Comments

Up until about 5 years ago everyone in my immediate circle was of the same race. I graduated from a historically black college, went to work in an all black elementary school, attended a predominantly black church, and had no white friends or associates.   My life was segregated, safe and familiar.

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Kia Stephens

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June 19, 2016

Kia Stephens

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February 1, 2016

The Truth About Self-Hatred

February 1, 2016 | By | 2 Comments

“I was teased growing up,” I began.  “For three years, male and female tweens talked about the size of my nose, the color of my skin, my skinny legs, and non existent breast,” I continued.  Initially, I had no intentions of divulging my adolescent tale of woe with the fourth and fifth grade mentees, but I deemed it necessary.

Just before my comments the girls viewed a PowerPoint presentation of women thought of as beautiful:  Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, and then Lupita Nyong’o.  The immediate response to Lupita’s image was one of disdain. She was dark and her hair was short.

“She’s bald headed,” one said.  Another described her as, “Black.” Even though her features mirrored several of the girls in the room, she was harshly criticized.  Before I knew it an indignation rose in me.  I had to speak.

I had to speak because I knew somewhere in that crowd of estrogen was a girl who felt just as I did when I was her age.  She needed an advocate, someone to stand up and say you are beautiful.  She needed someone to teach her how to love herself.  

The effects of self hatred and low self-esteem are subtle: slowly infiltrating our psyche until we don’t even notice it.  Constantly, we are bombarded with a barrage of images dictating what beauty is and is not. Air brushed women with hair and wardrobe stylist, personal makeup artist and plastic surgery are touted as the world’s standard of beauty.  And I’ll be the first to say I have believed the lie, often enduring a torture filled regiment of hair straightening, face painting, eyebrow plucking, and spanx (need I say more).  

I do this in an attempt to reach the ever rising beauty bar.  If I didn’t straighten, paint,  pluck or squeeze my appearance would be drastically different.  In my purest state I’d have bushy eyebrows, uneven skin, a protruding belly, and a rather large afro.  This image will never meet the societal standard of beauty, but it does meet God’s.  

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Kia Stephens

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January 9, 2016

3 Reasons to Break Up With Fear

January 9, 2016 | By | 5 Comments

For as long as I can remember, I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with fear.  Initially, he took the role of a protector, much like a father or a big brother would, however his presence soon turned controlling.  His reign rendered me the cowardly lion: afraid to live with him and afraid to live without him.  

He was there in my youth when I crossed the street, teaching me about the fear of danger.  His presence became more dominant in middle and high school as he exposed me to the fear of rejection. And later in adulthood he introduced me to the fear of failure.

What if you get hurt?

Don’t take that risk!

You might fail.

What will people think?

His words stifled and steered my decisions causing me to live a lesser version of me.  And despite the unhealthy nature of our relationship I stayed because this place felt more normal than abnormal.  To walk away from my relationship with him would be to abandon the false sense of security that he provided.  

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Kia Stephens

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November 10, 2015

How a Woman’s Clothing Impacts a Man Part II

November 10, 2015 | By | 10 Comments

Every man in the room watched her walk past.  She had legs that reached the ceiling, weave that touched the floor, heels about 3 ½  inches high, and a mini dress that hugged her frame like saran wrap.  Something in me cringed because two of the men with their eyes fixated on this women were married.

This is shocking but oh so common, maybe even accepted as manly behavior.  “A man is going to be a man,” some say.  I have even noticed the wandering eye of men out with their wives, who take a second sometimes third and fourth look at another woman.  

Maybe you have seen it too, or been on the receiving end as the woman looked at or the one ignored. In their book Every Man’s Battle, authors Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey call it “visual foreplay”. In their chapter on “Just By Being Male” they had the following to say about visual stimulation.

Our eyes give men the means to sin broadly and at will.  We don’t need a date or a mistress.  We don’t ever need to wait.  We have our eyes and can draw sexual gratification through them at any time.  We’re turned on by female nudity in any way, shape, or form.

They go on to say, “. . . For males, impurity of the eyes is sexual foreplay. . .  Just like stroking an inner thigh or rubbing a breast.  Because foreplay is any sexual action that naturally takes us down the road to intercourse.

Maybe this is why Jesus himself said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5: 28 (NIV)

Yet, even with this widely known understanding about men, why is it that sexually provocative clothing is more and more readily accepted and prevalent?  I would argue that there is a symbiotic relationship between the man who looks, and the woman who desires to get attention for her appearance.

She is getting a need met too.  The woman receives affirmation and the man receives visual stimulation.  This is otherwise known as lust.  But lust is never satisfied; it always demands more, leaving the partaker empty.  

As a result the clothes get tighter.  The skirts get shorter.  And more skin is revealed until there is another exchange.

 

A glance

A smile

A catcall

A number

Existing in her heart is a gnawing fear that if she is no longer considered attractive, she will decrease in value.  So she works diligently to maintain her sexy image because every woman is a competitor and every man a conquest.  This occurs all while the gaping wound in her soul widens.

Instead of dealing with the root cause of her actions she masks them by focusing on how she looks.  Appearing seductive on the outside but broken on the inside, she finds herself stuck in a vicious cycle.  Many times her wounds have been created by the physical and emotional absence of her father.  

So what is the solution?  How can a woman who has grown dependent on external validation from men ever change?  The answer is she must make a conscious choice: every second, minute, and hour of the day to be affirmed by God.

One of my absolute favorite stories in the Bible is that of Jesus and the woman at the well.    The Bible does not speak of this woman’s wounded state, but it does mention her history.  She had been married five times and with a man who was not her husband at the time she met Jesus.

I imagine after five marriages with five different men one would have accumulated some wounds.  In fact, she was probably already wounded prior to her first marriage.  Searching for something in the arms of each subsequent man, she was not satisfied and Jesus knew it.

Instead of speaking to her natural thirst He spoke to the thirst in her soul.If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”   John 4: 10 (NIV)

It is this same thirst for validation He seeks to quench in the heart of every woman.  

 

How a Woman's Clothing Impacts a Man Part II Meme 1

Through His word God offers us an endless supply of deep soul satisfying affirmation.  It is not based on anything we wear or don’t wear.  God’s affirmation is given freely because of who we are in Him.  

How a Woman's Clothing Impacts a Man Part 2 Meme 3

 

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Celita Williams

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October 12, 2015

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity

October 12, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

This is for the female
That seemed to have a little more male than fe
When it came to the word she
She had a just a little less of the “s”
And a little more of the “h” and the “e”
This is for the woman that was a little more sour than sweet
This is for the woman I used to know
The woman I used to be
This is for the woman in me

When I was a child I quickly learned what I liked and did not like.  I knew very early on that I liked to play outside, ride my bike, play basketball, and explore the world (or neighborhood) around me on my own terms.  I also knew that I did not like wearing dresses, playing dress up, playing with dolls or confining myself to someone else’s idea of fun or appropriate “girly” mannerisms.

What I was discovering was so much more than just being a tomboy.  So much more than just being the sporty girl in a crowd full of pink bows and frills.  As I aged, the “girly” gap between me and the other females around me only grew larger.  Their seemingly innate feminine maturity increasingly outweighed my own and I realized that this is not something I could just grow out of…this is something I would have to work through for the rest of my life.

My struggle was for an appropriate identity at the root of my core self.  My identity as female did not feel comfortable or appropriate well into adulthood.  This is not the classic story of a little tomboy that grew out of her “boyish” ways, but the, nowadays, all too familiar story of what seemed like a little boy trapped in a girls’ body.  The main point of this post is not to make any sort of political stance one way or another about gender identity and what any one person should do when wrestling those feelings, but the point of this post is to highlight just how influential the words of others can be when navigating a personal crisis – especially the words of a father.

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 2

I experienced all the taunts that one would expect “She talks like a boy, she walks like a boy, shoot she even claps like a boy!” OR “When are you going to grow out of this phase (speaking to an 18-year-old me)?”  But the most painful and confusing taunt of all was not from friends or church members or family, but from my father.

With a big smile on his face, a little chuckle under his words, and while addressing both my sister and I, my father once said, “God gave me just what I wanted…a daughter and a son!”

On the inside I sank.

On the inside I felt a sharp pain shoot through my stomach.

It was as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

Even if the church member said I acted “like” a boy, or the stranger often mistook me for a boy (with my short hair and baggy clothes), and even, EVEN if I preferred to carry myself in a manner consistent with “boy-dom” because that is how I felt comfortable for the moment.  ALL of that could have been overcome and redeemed with a fundamentally communicated understanding and unwavering stance from my father that I was always his little girl.

My countenance
I wished never gave away anything
Except don’t play with me
Thinking
That I had played everyone else successfully
But in the process I played myself
Because I carried myself like a dude
A homey
But inwardly, secretly
I wished that somebody
Would treat me like a lady

His words are forever ingrained in my psyche.  It is his words that had the power to propel me into the femininity that I had shoved aside.  Now don’t get me wrong, my father and I have an amazing relationship today and he has expressed repeatedly that he is pleased with the woman that I have become, but this does not change the fact that the words of a father play a powerful role in a daughter’s image of herself and her level of core confidence.

As I entered adulthood and my battles with my identity only became more confusing I had to learn to put aside the words of my earthly father in exchange for the words of my heavenly Father.  Zephaniah 3:17 “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

My heavenly Father delights in me, He calms me, He sings over me with joyful songs…He accepts me. How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 3

It was in this understanding of His acceptance, and the level of acceptance I eventually saw demonstrated in His followers, that gave me the confidence to begin exploring what femininity looked like for me.  No, it did not look like my female friends growing up, and it did not look like my girlfriends’ in college, but there was a version of womanhood that I could embrace once I had a safe space wherein I could search.  Today I am not without my inner battles or occasional thoughts that my version of “female” is just not “female” enough, but even still the woMAN in me could become the WOman in me once I found the healing, accepting, and comforting words of a Father.

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 4

I Opened up the scars and hurt spots for someone I trusted to see
Someone who loved me
That first someone being God
So I could be touched and felt and experience proper healing
That last someone being people
Those true friends
That weren’t turned away when being exposed to the ugly
And therefore they became part of the discovery
As I found the woman beneath the layers
The beauty queen

And I’m not only talking about the shape of my body solely
Or the clothing
But the character built and the confidence established
That allowed me to allow others to know me
This is for the woman
If any
Who are feelin’ me

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