Our friend Phylicia Masonheimer recently released a book, Stop Calling Me Beautiful: Finding Soul-Deep Strength in a Skin-Deep World, which our founder, Gretchen, endorsed. We love Phylicia’s commitment to God’s Word and we are excited to share this interview with you about her new book! We hope it offers a helpful preview of the book’s message and her heart for Christ-following women.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write Stop Calling Me Beautiful.
My name is Phylicia and I am a blogger, author and podcast host. I’ve been writing for ten years, the last three specifically on theology and going deeper in our spiritual lives. I met my husband while studying my religion degree at Liberty University, and we now live on a small farm in northern Michigan with our two daughters.
SCMB actually began as a viral blog post by a similar name. It was a short post; I pointed out that Christian women are weary of hearing the same messages about beauty and identity without any real practical application from Scripture, and no actual victory in their lives. We are told, in Scripture, that His yoke is easy and to take heart, for He has overcome. So why aren’t these things becoming reality for most Christian women? I argue this is because we’re teaching a “half gospel”—one that skips the hard parts about sin and walking out our faith and focuses only on beauty and identity.
Women resonated so much with the blog post, we knew there was interest for a full-length book.
Legalism vs. Holiness
We love this quote from Chapter 5: “Legalism is man’s shortcut to holiness.” We often gravitate toward boxes to check off in our walk with the Lord. How does this stunt our growth as believers?
The boxes and checklists are easier than spending time in the Word and “waiting on the Lord,” as the psalmist often says. Trust requires waiting, at least to some degree. We can’t grow in trust if we are always shortcutting faith by creating rules God Himself did not. Now, we often do this with good intent! But in doing so, we lose grace toward others who don’t abide by our man-made rules; and secondly, our faith grows more and more dependent on our lists and loses its focus on God Himself.
To "Love Yourself" or Not
How has the “love yourself” movement weakened our resolve against sin?
Sometimes I think the “love yourself” movement is attempting to solve our human struggle against shame. We feel it; we know it; we know deep down we are flawed—so the movement tries to psych us out of it by reminding us to love ourselves first. But it fails to see that shame can’t be removed with enough self-care. It can be hidden for a while, but not removed.
God doesn't call us to love ourselves out of shame but to let Him redeem it. That redemption requires repentance, which is missing from the “love yourself” movement. We have to acknowledge our own inadequacy/sin that caused the shame, and our need for God. Only then do we fully embrace and enjoy the grace that covers our sin!
Women in the Word
How can women overcome pressure or apathy when it comes to their personal time in the Word?
Let’s start with apathy. We can’t base our need for God on our own shifting emotions! Regardless of how we feel, we need His wisdom and presence just to go through life. The moment we think we don’t really need Him in order to “handle” what life gives us, we’ve believed a lie. So rather than waiting for our emotions to change and we feel like following Him, we choose to follow before the feelings. We show up to the Word because that’s what faith does: believes what it cannot yet see. Yes, we believe that God inspired the Word and He meets us there. So we show up before the emotions and that’s exactly what He does! Emotions come as faithfulness is walked out.
As for the pressure of perfectionism, the key is to put away the distractions and comparisons that reside so cleverly in our phones and social media, and simply come to God through His Word however our lives demand it. When I was working full-time it was often on my lunch break. Then, when I had small babies it was during or after a nursing session in the early morning. The time and location do not have to be perfect!
Walking Through Grief
Often we struggle with how to help when someone is walking through grief. How can we be the hands and feet of Christ as our friends and family are hurting?
There is much written about grief and why saying things like, “They’re in a better place” is not helpful to those grieving loss, or saying, “It doesn’t look so bad” to someone with a long-term illness is neither encouraging nor uplifting. Instead, we can think about the needs that may be going unmet: The need to be heard, or simply to be with them. Even the gift of your presence may be all they want—just as God is present with us! Or, if they want to be alone, dropping off a coffee with a note that you’re praying for them, asking them what you can specifically pray if they care to share. Jesus carries our griefs, and as His church we’re called to do the same.
Freedom in Christ
Why is sexual freedom and victory in Jesus such a passionate and important topic for you?
Because of my own testimony! My ten-year struggle with sexual sin and shame cultivated a passion in me, not just for biblical sexuality but also for the freedom Jesus offers. No one else could get me out of the cycle of defeat and embarrassment that was my life for so long. Learning that victory is a lifestyle, not a destination, was key for me. Knowing that winning the war against sexual sin was a matter of getting back up again and again, learning how to repent and move forward trusting God’s grace, and depending on the kindness of God transformed my life. And that all began with the Word of God.
What would you say to women who bend toward isolationism or exclusively male friendships?
I would encourage you to ask, “Why?” Why do you do this?” While many people chalk it up to personality type or preference, it almost always points to a hidden fear or insecurity. God calls us to be in community, and not just with men. We’re called to walk hand in hand with women too. To live our lives deciding we “don’t like” an entire group of people He created and wants us to love is to deny His purpose for us in the world. So we should self-reflect and really dig down to His heart for us, for our community, and for the people who could become true friends if we’d open up our hearts to healing.
Living in Community
What would you say to women who bend toward being too open and lack boundaries in community?
Similarly, we can’t let our dependence on people blind us to God’s intent for community! It’s never supposed to replace our walk with Him. Our measure for our lives is not the opinions of people but the opinion of God. When we are too open or lack boundaries, it’s often because we’re trying to find our place. We want to know we belong. But that belonging starts with our identity in Jesus, as women who were once separated and are now brought near! Resting in that leads to security in friendships.
Victory in Christ
When working toward victory in our lives, how do we find redemption and not just relief?
Daily, deeply seeking our Savior! It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. As we seek the Lord in the areas we need victory, He patiently walks with us, changing and sanctifying us. He redeems our mistakes and makes us new. Relief is just a short-term solution to a soul-deep problem. Redemption changes everything, and it starts by diligently seeking Jesus!
Who do you think are the people most likely to shy away from sharing the gospel, and how would you encourage them to obey the Great Commission?
I think anyone can be apprehensive about sharing the gospel if you think you have to give a speech and “close the deal” to do so! But that’s not what evangelism is. The Holy Spirit does the calling and the saving; we are just the mouthpieces, the visible examples of what it means to follow Christ. We should be cultivating a knowledge of why we believe what we believe, but the pressure is not on us to do the saving. That’s what God does. We must faithfully educate ourselves and be willing to share when the opportunity comes.