Loving and Honoring the Body God Gave You
What if you thought of your body as the gift that it is, instead of hating one (or more) parts of it? What if you celebrated all the things you can do, instead of focusing on the things you can’t? What if you appreciated it as the beautiful and unique creation that it is, instead of wishing it was something different? What if the decisions you make about what you do with your body were based on the reality that your body is the temple, or home, of the Holy Spirit of God? Would that change whether you ate that piece of cake, complained about your self perceived flaws, or skipped the exercise that your body needs to be at its best?
Loving God means we must love ourselves. And that starts with accepting who we are just as we are. Why? Because that’s what He did. God didn’t say “I will love you when you’re a perfect size 2 or when you’re having your best hair day”. He didn’t send Jesus from Heaven to die for our sins and save us, but only if we are able to keep up with the people we follow on social media. So why do we put those limitations on ourselves? Why do we hold out on loving ourselves as something to be attained when we reach a certain standard? Why do we continue to compare ourselves to everyone else, when God made each and every one of us unique, in His image, out of love?
Have you ever sized up or criticized another woman when they walked into a room? I know I have, probably too many times to count. Where does that come from? Is it from a place of judgment, determining that they don’t fit into your idea of what a woman should look or dress like? Or is it from a place of jealousy, wishing that you had their hair, body, or outfit, and then beating yourself up for falling short of some idea of “perfection” you’ve created in your mind? I think we have all been there. We live in this society that has been drilling into us since we were able to understand that we need to look a certain way in order to be “beautiful” or “successful”. In fact, social media, tv, magazines, photos, and probably people in your life, are constantly blasting all the ways in which someone else’s look (or life, man, kids, etc.) is perfect, and subtly reminding us how we just don’t measure up to that standard. So we buy this product, or try that diet, or add this one thing to our already mounting list of to do’s in order to attain something that will always be out of reach. Jesus never said that we should try to be like others, in fact He actually said when we follow him we are are not like this world at all (John 17:14-17). So why do we keep ignoring what our savior says in order to follow what our culture does?
We allow the enemy’s lies to create a narrative about us that we believe is our own. When I was a kid, I didn’t like anything about myself, except that I was skinny. Everything around me told me that skinny was a good thing – tv, movies, my family, magazines – and I held on to that value because it seemed like the only one I had. You can only imagine how devastating it was when I started gaining weight in middle school and by the time I went to high school, I wasn’t skinny anymore. Truth be told, I wasn’t overweight, not by any stretch of the imagination. But we, as a family, were unhealthy. Everyone was overweight in my family, due to a diet high in meat and cheese, tons of simple carbs and processed foods, but low in plants. And did I mention ice cream, cakes, cookies, soda, and candy? There was no understanding that eating a diet high in these foods would lead to a plethora of health problems later (which they did). It was the way our family ate, and no one was interested in changing. Add to that a lack of physical activity, and you have a recipe for disaster. All of this led me to be a miserable teenager, surrounded by images that showed all the ways in which I didn’t measure up to society’s standard of beauty.
Does any of my story sound familiar? I would love to tell you that once I lost the weight by 10th grade, everything changed and I was totally happy and loved my body, but that wasn’t true. I was a size 0 and weighed less than 120 pounds, but I didn’t go on my senior trip to the water park because I was too ashamed of my body with stretch marks and scars and cellulite (and we know 17 year old cellulite is NOT the same as real adult cellulite) to wear a swimsuit in public. I actually didn’t wear a swimsuit in front of people outside of my family until 2004 – I was 29 when I went in public in a swimsuit!!! All because I was ashamed of the way I looked. I was judging myself, and I thought others would judge me as harshly and I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want to be embarrassed by someone talking about me behind my back. It seems so silly when I write it out, but it was real and true for me then, and maybe you struggle with some of those fears right now.
Looking back over all the years of insecurity and struggling with my body image, I know that it was never about the weight. It was about loving myself, inside and out. I didn’t have the capacity to do that then, but I do now. It has been a journey, and knowing that I am treasured by the Almighty God who created everything gives me the courage and the strength to look in the mirror and say I love who I am, scars, stretch marks, cellulite, and all.
I want to encourage you to let go of the things that are keeping you in bondage and stopping you from loving every part of yourself just the way you are. I still have scars and cellulite and stretch marks (even more of them now), but I have been at beaches and – huge victory – water parks IN MY BATHING SUIT! I am so proud of myself for loving and accepting the body I have and not the body I wish I had. If I could change one thing on this journey, I would go back to 17 year old me in the Emporium Capwell dressing room hating the way I looked in that mirror, and I would say “the stretch marks and scars and cellulite don’t make you ugly, they make you human. Nobody is perfect, and trying to be something that NO ONE is will only take away from the joy you can have right now. And anyone who would make fun of you is someone who doesn’t deserve a place in your life, so stop giving them power over what you choose to do. Now get yourself out of this dressing room, go to that beach day and live your best life right now!”
I don’t have a quick fix for you, because the truth is there are no quick fixes – if they really existed so many of us wouldn’t have been struggling for so long with the same issues. Loving yourself, inside and out, begins with knowing who you are and whose you are. It comes with understanding your place in God’s kingdom, what has been given so you can be free, and then owning that power so you live free from the insecurities and mindsets that have been keeping you in bondage and from being your best self. If you are ready to begin the journey, I would love for you to consider joining my program launching next month. It is designed help you grow your faith, learn how to take better care of yourself, and improve your health. I’d love to go on this journey with you as you learn to love and care for your body – after all, it is the living temple of the Holy Spirit of God.
If you’re interested in more information, sign up below and I’ll send you all the details!