Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Lee.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Brooke. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
From late high school into early college, I struggled with an eating and exercise disorder. I detested my body and learned from a young age that thinner girls were liked more. So, I set out to be as thin as I possibly could, believing this is what would win me value and worth. I kept my struggle hidden for many years in large part because I didn’t want anyone stopping me, but I also kept it hidden because I was buried in shame. I was ashamed of my body (no matter how thin I was), and I was ashamed of people finding out what I was doing to try and conform to my body. I was trapped in a cycle that seemed to feed off of itself.
When I arrived at college, I joined a large campus ministry, where I developed deep and authentic community, which included finding and meeting regularly with a mentor. As time went on, and my relationships deepened, the topic of body image and insecurity started to come up more and more. Eventually, I felt safe enough to let my mask come down just a little and share what was really going on in the inside. With the love, support and truth-telling from God, my friends, mentor, family and boyfriend at the time (now husband), I slowly began to heal and experience freedom from my struggle. But what came in the midst of my healing, was even more impactful. You see, as I healed, I began sharing more openly about my struggle, and as I shared I found that 99.9% of the women I shared with responded with a “me, too.” Now, it didn’t mean that every woman I shared with struggled with an eating disorder or issues with their body image (although a large majority did), but it was this overall agreement that they, too, weren’t perfect. That they, too, were hiding in struggle. I quickly found that as I courageously took my mask off, it was as if I was giving other women permission to do the same.
It was at this point that I felt a passion and mission to help women get free. I wanted every woman to live mask-free. So, I started off hosting an annual event at the church I worked for called, GLAM, which stands for God Loves All of me. The event began as an evening for middle and high school girls. It included lots of fun (learning dances, signing songs, eating yummy food), but it also offered a chance for girls to talk “real” about their own struggles with body image, insecurity, etc. The event doubled in size every year, with girls describing it as a “breath of fresh air amidst the pressuring expectations of culture.”
But then, in 2011, I was hit by the worst tragedy I had ever faced. My sister, my best friend, was found dead of a heroin overdose and my world crumbled.
After a few years of processing this lost and finding healing and peace, a renovated passion eventually emerged. You see, for my sister, she didn’t just jump into drugs. No, she had been internally struggling with anxiety and insecurity for years and had kept it hidden (at least the severity of it). And in order to cope with this hidden struggle, she turned to drugs to quiet the internal battle going on within. And something clicked for me. Because all of the sudden I could see how this mask-wearing and struggle-hiding was actually killing us–both metaphorically and realistically–and I wasn’t content to just sit by and let this happen.
This is when the mission and vision for GLAM were refined. I no longer want to just help women find freedom in the area of body image and insecurity, I wanted to help women find true freedom, from ***whatever it was*** that was holding them back from God and the abundant life He had for them. So I set out to build an organization that did just that.
Today, GLAM ministers to women all around the world through our tools and resources (devotionals & bible studies), online communities, and in-person gatherings. We are a safe place for any and every woman to come, take off her mask, and experience the true healing and freedom she is longing for. What allows women to take off their masks and show up with their whole selves is this little belief that guides all that we do: we believe God loves all of you (our namesake), therefore all of you is welcome here; the cleaned up parts and the messy, the broken pieces and the whole, the secret thoughts and the public confessions, the past regrets and future dreams, the doubts and moments of faith, the good things you’ve done and the things you wish never happened, the successes and the mess-ups — God loves all of you. As we guide women into owning this truth for themselves, it’s what gives them the permission and courage to show up with all of themselves and allows God to work healing and freedom into their lives. Our mission is simple: to help women deepen their journey with God and remove spiritual barriers, knowing this is the birthplace of freedom.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not sure anyone’s road is smooth, which is actually a good thing because smooth roads never lead to anywhere exciting.
My journey has been one of determined conviction, obedience to God, and a whole lot fo fumbling my way through each step. Here are some of the struggles along the way:
1. How to pursue a calling and something I care so deeply about without making the focus to glorify myself or make my name great (spoiler alert: I wanted to make my name great when I first started out and still have to fight that every day.)
2. Things don’t just magically fall into place. You have to put one foot in front of the other and do the hard work of advancing your mission and vision forward.
3. God’s timing is perfect… but it often times frustrates me. My projected plans for things are always light years faster than God’s. I’ve had to wrestle this out with God (and still do today!), allowing Him to work in His timing.
My advice to younger women who are just starting their journey would be a few things: 1. Seek the will of God, not your own. Your will eventually fizzle out and won’t stand against all the odds. Let God guide you into what plans He has for you (and then trust His timing of those plans).
2. Don’t focus on a destination, or “making it,” rather focus on the step God has put in front of you. So many of the paths I set out on ended up in completely different places than I anticipated, and I’m so glad for that. Keep your eyes locked on God and His plans for you, following the steps He lays before you, and then trust Him with the outcome.
3. Be patient. Let the journey be a journey and don’t rush the process.
We’d love to hear more about GLAM Ministries (GLAM: God Loves All of Me).
GLAM Ministries creates tools & resources (topical devotionals & bible studies) and hosts in-person, intimate gatherings all aimed at helping women deepen their journey with God and remove spiritual barriers.
I am most proud of the transformation, freedom, and healing that has taken place in the lives of the women we serve. This hasn’t been by my doing, but rather God has chosen to work through the tools and resources we create to impact the lives of His daughters. This is why I get up every morning and do this work. It is a privilege to get to play a small part in women experiencing the healing and freedom that God desires for each one of us.
What sets GLAM apart? Answered by some of the women we serve:
– It doesn’t just say it, it breathes it into the women it touches. It feels very personalized which is so difficult to accomplish when you’re trying to reach a large group of people.
– GLAM not only offers a safe space to be completely and utterly me, it pushes me to learn, gives me time to reflect and wrestle with my thoughts and ultimately it gives me the space to CHOOSE freedom.
– GLAM is different because it was the only space I ever felt like I was truly able to be completely raw and real and tear down my “have it all together” Christian life. Almost 25 years of being a Christian I never once found freedom from my childhood trauma in a Christian setting. There was never space, time or leadership to allow that much messy and pain to come to the surface and allow God’s power to wash it away. GLAM is so different because it provides a place where women discover that we are NOT ALONE in our shame, guilt, fear, doubt, imperfections, pain and deepest areas of bondage. It allows space and asks questions that Allow for soul searching, processing, and even sitting in the discomfort and providing God space to actually clean it up.
– GLAM bridges that gap by replacing my shame and imperfect life and using that as my launching pad to find the most meaning, purpose, and acceptance. Glam helped me receive the gift and power of being fully known and fully loved and accepted by other believers.
Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
Apps: the Bible app, & Pray As You Go
Podcasts: Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand, & we are launching a podcast in the Fall of 2018!
- Identity: A Soul Journey (Not your average Bible Study), $20
- Recover: A Devotional on Rest, $11.99
- Website: www.godlovesallofme.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @godlovesallofme
- Other: www.godlovesallofme.org/shop