Introducing my new monthly feature: About Her. Through this feature I want to showcase brilliant Christian women, their passions and their callings. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Gemma Tuson, creator of the new Be Loved course.
Gemma, what is Be Loved?
Be Loved is a course specifically devised for 14-17 year olds, and runs as six weekly sessions, lasting two hours, in groups of 8-10 with two facilitators. The heart of Be Loved is to see young women thrive within themselves, their relationships and with God. We are passionate about inspiring healthy self-respect and encourage the ability to make valuable life choices. Through the ‘Be Loved’ course we are equipping the group members to deal with life’s challenges head-on, using practical exercises and biblical truth. We love to see young women enjoying the life they have been given, and being excited for their future.
I’d been working with groups of girls for a while doing various creative workshops, and I was very aware that the majority of teenage girls I met had moderate to low self-esteem. I knew of some fab self-esteem courses but I hadn’t heard of one that included some good, solid biblical truths that they could stand firm on. I felt a strong calling from God to write Be Loved, and through dreams, prayer and various words He definitely directed it.
You speak so wisely of the need to be sure God’s love for us, in order that we live full lives. Has there been a time when you felt unsure of God’s love for you?
Yes. My dad died 6 weeks before my wedding day. I really struggled to get my head round why my Heavenly Father would take away my earthly father so close to the most important day of my life. I was really angry, but didn’t know how to express it, as there was so much going on in my life around that time. I was getting married, leaving my family home and moving into my new house with my new husband. It all felt so surreal. People were telling me how brave I was so I put on a brave persona. Really though, inside, I was in a sad, angry state, but didn’t know how to show it.
That must have been an incredibly difficult time in your life, and faith. How did you come out of it?
It took me 6 years to come to a place where I finally recognised I wasn’t doing ok. I was going to church but I wasn’t praying and had lost my relationship with God. I went for some Christian counseling, which helped me talk about all the hurt I’d been holding onto, and I was able to process my feelings towards God. I knew I either had to work through it, and pursue God, or walk away from my faith. Just after that I read a book called ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan, and it really helped me to realise how much God loves me, and I finally started to come to terms with what had happened.
Obviously faith is an integral part of our lives, but we are busy as mums. How do you pray and read the Bible?
My prayers are usually arrow prayers throughout the day. I have two children, and my husband works at home, so I never really have any alone time!
I try to get up before the rest of the house and have some time reading the Bible. I like to use bible studies, as I find them really helpful. I love the ‘She Reads Truth’ app and I have found that their commentary gives me fresh insight.
I’m a massive fan of singing, and find such joy when singing to God. What’s your favourite worship song?
I often wake singing ‘Good, good Father‘. It’s like my soul is singing it. Which is amazing since I had a period in my life where I didn’t think He was a very good Father!
Do you have a favourite verse from the Bible?
I have a few favourites!
For being brave:
1John 4;4 “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
For work and relationships:
1 John 3;19 “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”
For my soul:
Matthew 11;28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
You have a clear calling to serve teenage girls. One problem that seems to come up a lot is the pressure to conform to societal expectations when it comes to sex and relationships. If there was a young girl struggling with pressures of a modern day relationship, wanting advice, what would you say to her?
Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. God wants the BEST for you and your relationships, if it’s not the best then it may not be right.
Finally, what is your hope for Be Loved and the girls who use it?
My hope is that churches will provide the girls in their churches with the opportunity to do Be Loved. That the young women who complete the course, will leave knowing deep down in their hearts that they are so greatly loved, who they are and who they were created to be, and be completely comfortable with that.
Thank you, Gemma, for sharing some of your story and faith with me.
If you would like to know more, please visit the Be Loved website where you can find out more information and even buy the course. When I was a teenager, I know I really struggled with self-esteem and finding my identity in God’s love for me. Despite the fact I went to a Christian school, the days and events put on to help build our confidence and self-esteem were very general and not built on the solid foundations of truth found in God’s word. Perhaps you’re a church leader, a parent of a teenage girl, or maybe you are a teenage girl who wants to access this course. Get in touch with Gemma, and allow God to build you up in the knowledge of his love.