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Part 1 of an interview with Emma Mae Jenkins, Author of Be Loved
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Part 1 of an interview with Emma Mae Jenkins, Author of Be Loved

25 Jan Posted by in Interviews | Comments Off on Part 1 of an interview with Emma Mae Jenkins, Author of Be Loved
Part 1 of an interview with Emma Mae Jenkins, Author of Be Loved

Being a teen is hard. Pressures to fit in, conform, and be the best push in from every direction, even from within. Yet, each and every person was uniquely created by a God who loves them. Emma Mae Jenkins, a young writer and social media influencer, wants to reach teens with exactly that message. She has inspired thousands of girls online with the freedom she has to be herself—a dearly loved child of God. In her first book, Be Loved (New Growth Press), she invites readers to join her on a journey of life-changing faith and the freedom that comes from knowing the love of God.

Be Loved is a full-color, hardback book that includes pictures from Jenkins’s life as well as illustrations that will connect with students. It also includes many Bible verses that God used to strengthen and guide her through the ups and downs of her high school years. Readers will learn to face the challenges of their student years with faith, courage, hope, and lifegiving love for others. Be Loved offers:

  • An authentic role model of courage and joy
  • Real life examples of navigating the challenges of school
  • Hope that God is also with them through their challenging days
  • Practical direction on ways to build their life on Jesus

Q: Be Loved chronicles your high school years. Junior high and high school are difficult years for everyone, but what are some of the challenges that made it particularly hard for you?

Walking through junior high and high school most definitely do have their difficulties as everyone is discovering who they are and making choices that truly do have a great impact on the future. For me, sometimes it was hard to have people respond to the joy that lives within me, the smile that I couldn’t help but share, and the voice that God has given me with confusion or laughter. This may seem small, but I really began to learn how to be who God had called me to be, even when the response was not the most inviting. It is really cool how we never actually know the beauty that God is growing within someone, so to plant the seed of a smile or to water someone’s soul with encouragement is to be obedient to the Father. The response of the person may not show what I would love to see, but I trust that God is doing in their heart what only He can do.

Moving during high school was also pretty tough. I was afraid of not making close friendships worried about what people were going to think of me. But God led me. His grace sustained me, and He gently reminded me that His love casts out all fear. Love is not self-seeking, so when I was worried about making friends and worried I was going to be thought of well, I was not operating out of love, but out of fear. I cannot love people that I fear. When His love is what I chose to abide in, I could not help but focus on how I could serve others.

Q: You write that you tried to be gracious, kind and loving to others, but you didn’t treat yourself the same way. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

We tend to be hard on ourselves when we misunderstand grace and misinterpret the voice of the Lord. For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and this is not by our own works (so that we cannot boast), but it is a gift from God. Grace is unmerited favor. It is a gift given to me that I do not deserve, so of course we are going to be hard on ourselves if we are living to earn something that cannot be earned.

My life is not a race to earn the love, attention and affirmation from God, but my life is a response of gratitude and obedience because Jesus died for me. This is why I work wholeheartedly. This is why I smile. This is why I don’t quit. This is why I write books and make videos, sing songs and post captions on social media. This is why, it is not to earn, but it is a response to His gift.

The voice of the Lord is a voice of peace and clarity and truth and order. He speaks to us in a way that does not bring us to shame but compels us to walk in the light as He is the light. When I am walking with a mentality of accusation, confusion, condemnation, chaos and defeat, I know that I am listening to the voice of the enemy, not of my God. Growing familiar with His voice requires time spent with Him. I am hard on myself in a way that brings me to shame when I am not listening and believing the voice of the Lord.

Q: What’s so wrong about striving for perfection?

To have the mentality of striving for perfection is to depend on ourselves to be enough for God to use us, love us, want us, etc. This completely disregards the beauty and power of why Jesus came. We cannot ever be good enough to get to God, that is why He came to us.

This does not mean that I stop working hard and doing my best. God says to live a life in a manner than is worthy of the gospel. He says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling as He gives us the power and the desire to do what is good and what is pleasing to Him. He says that whatever we do, we need to do it wholeheartedly because we are doing it for Him. He says to not grow weary of doing good. I am not saying that because I live in the works of Christ, I no longer have to be a hard worker. Not at all. But what I am saying is that I now work hard to glorify the Father, to bless His people, to show gratitude for His love for me. I no longer have to work hard to prove my worth because my worth is in Christ.

Many of us also strive for perfection in order to receive the approval of people. However, if you look at the life of Jesus, He truly was perfect, but there were still those who loved Him and others who hated Him. We are not here for the approval of people, but for God’s. It is only in Him that our worth and identity is solid and whole.

Q: Bullying is a major problem in schools today, in fact, you experienced your fair share as well. Why were a target, and how did you handle it?

The bullying I experienced was online via social media, and it continues still in waves. I was and am because the One living in me was not understood, was not known. Sometimes people scoff at what they do not understand. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives within in me and therefore, I cannot contain He Who is joy and peace and power and love and light. The people of the world would love me if I belonged to the world, but I am simply in the world, I am not of it. He said that if the world hates you, remember that they hated him first.

I handled it by surrendering it. When my heart is overwhelmed, God leads me to the rock that is higher than myself. I could not handle it on my own—I needed Him and always will. Through Him, it was handled, by me hiding His Word in my heart, trusting that He spoke over me before the world ever had an opportunity to. I had people in my life who walked with me and reminded me of truth. They continued to be the light of the world with me. We were not made to do life alone, so I needed my community. Through God’s eyes, I could simply see the people hating on me did not know how loved they were, so it was a beautiful chance to love them. God has said for me to love my enemies, pray for those who curse me, and bless those who persecute me. I can only do this when I know that He loved me first. When I begin to see myself the way that God sees me, I can then see others the way that He sees others too.

Q: What is the secret to not being discouraged and comparing yourself to others?

The secret to being content in who you are and where you are is to rest in the truth of what God says about you. It sounds so simple and some say that is cliché, but to say that is to forget the power of His Word. Who He says you are is unchanging and never ending. Who He says you are is personal and on purpose. When we begin to see ourselves the way that He sees us, we will then also see others the way He sees others too. God made each of us to be original and reveal His heart in a unique way, so to compare ourselves to one another only leads to discouragement.

Begin to praise God for the beauty that you see in someone else. Celebrate them in ways that they do not even see, such as how you think about them. Ask the Lord to help you be confident in who He made you to be and to also rejoice in how beautiful He made others to be.

Q: Why is it important for each of us to embrace the unique person that we are?

God says we are His masterpiece, so when we embrace who He has made us to be, we are embracing who He Himself made in His image and said was very good. For us to embrace all that He purposefully knitted within us, is to also embrace all that He has for us and wants to deliver through us. When I am embrace who God says I am, I am able to lead others to realize the true beauty that God placed within them. I cannot lead from a place I have not been. In this example, I cannot lead others to be who God has called them to be if I myself am not daily surrendering to embrace being who He has called me to be as well.

God wants to be glorified through every part of who we are. He wants to be praised through the strengths and gifts He has entrusted us with. The weaknesses in us are what He sees as opportunities for His glory to shine through. To not embrace all that I am in Him is to miss out on a lot of beauty and excitement that He wants to reveal to me and through me.

It is so important because it glorifies Him for me to embrace the unique person that I am.

Q: What is the main message you hope young women will take away from reading your book?

I pray that young women will receive and respond to the message that God is pursuing their hearts. He desires to be in relationship with them personally, and from an overflow of this relationship, they may they live boldly and freely in Who He says they are. I hope they love others just as they themselves have been loved. May they be loved.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Mae Jenkins describes herself as a lover of Jesus and people. She is a social media influencer, writer, speaker, and YouTuber with the sole purpose of leading others into a relationship with Jesus, sharing this chain-breaking freedom, and being a vessel of God’s Word. She is excited to share with girls and young women about how much God loves them and has called each to a unique purpose for his glory.

Jenkins began chronicling her journey through high school on social media and in doing so has inspired thousands of young people to live their faith freely and with courage. She is currently a sophomore at Liberty University where she is majoring in Women’s Christian Leadership.

The founder of Son Seeker Ministries, Jenkins’ vision is to lead her generation into having a genuine relationship with Jesus. Her new release, Be Loved, is her first book.

During school breaks, Jenkins makes her way back home to northwest Arkansas where her parents and brother live.

Learn more at emmamaejenkins.com and follow her via social media.

 

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