With vivid detail, I remember the first time I ever had a negative thought about my body. Holding a 5th grade class picture in my hand, I stared with horror at myself, standing a head taller and generally larger than my petite classmates.
And while my young mind was not yet sullied with worldly expectations of what a woman “should” look like, I knew I looked different.
The enemy used that opportunity to fashion a foothold regarding how I saw and thought about myself. In time, this foothold grew and turned into a full-blown battle with my own body. With futile effort, I sought to change it, shrink it, and sculpt it into something vaguely resembling the images staring back at me from grocery store aisles lined with glossy magazines.
I’ve spent well over half my years on this earth battling against my body, indulging in self-loathing, and thinking if I could just be X size, then I’d be happy.
I wonder if you ever feel this way, too—like you’re battling your body? Maybe like me, you’ve wanted your body to be a smaller size. Or perhaps there’s a feature you wish you could change.
Maybe you feel as if your body has failed you because pregnancy hasn’t come easily—or at all (oh friend, how I’ve been there).
Maybe you’re facing a limiting health issue. Or maybe age is starting to show itself by slowing you down.
At times, the struggle is enough to flat wear us out, isn’t it? Sometimes I sit back and think, why in the world is this such a battle? Am I simply imagining this? But as I dig more deeply into scripture regarding this issue, the battle is making much more sense. Listen to what Your loving Heavenly Father has to say about your body and mine:
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (ESV)
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)
In light of these verses, is it any wonder our enemy hits us hard in this area, and with vicious intent? Our bodies are temples. Sacred, beautiful, valuable.
Our bodies are the pinnacle of God’s creation—living, breathing, walking miracles. Made in His image. In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not only to trick her into disobedience, but to set off death inside her body as well (and consequently, our bodies too).
Your body is valuable and beautiful, not because of what it looks like on the outside, but because of Who made it!
Please hear me, I am all for pursuing good health and taking care of our bodies. We only have one life on this earth, after all. But I firmly believe God wants so much more for us than living a life ensnared by the pursuit of an illusive and hollow perfection in our outer appearance.
Sweet reader, I fully understand what a battle this can be—and I wish I had magic words to end that battle for each of us. The process of making peace with your body is a slow and winding one. It can take years. It certainly takes more than a simple blog post.
But today, I want to offer 3 ways we can begin moving towards making peace with our God-given, divinely designed bodies. May this encourage and strengthen you today!
1. Adopt His Perspective
Living in the world but not of it presents quite a challenge, especially when it comes to how we view our bodies. Everywhere we turn, messaging and marketing blast our eyes with what we “should” look like.
But we live by a different code, one at odds with the world’s messaging. When the prophet Samuel anointed David as king, he spoke these God-inspired words:
“For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
To find freedom from this exhausting body battle, we must be sure we’re using the right measuring stick. God longs to grow us in faith, that our hearts and minds might reflect Jesus. We can do this no matter what size is written in our jeans!
Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see as you see, and a heart that longs to reflect Christ in us more than the world’s standards. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
2. Embrace a Kingdom Focus
In our highly visual, social-media driven world, it’s so easy to turn our focus to how our bodies look and leave it at that. But what if we focused on what our bodies can do?
What are your strengths and talents? Where has God gifted you for service? We can choose to see only flaws and deficits in our bodies … or we can choose to see how our hands, feet, mouths, and minds can serve in His kingdom.
Spend some time answering the question, how can my body bring glory to God’s kingdom? How has God uniquely gifted me that I might serve the body of Christ?
3. Choose to Give Thanks
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV)
Above all, I have found gratitude to be the single most effective strategy for pulling my mind out of a downward spiral of self-loathing.
There is always something to be thankful for, even when it comes to our broken, aging, fragile bodies. We are so conditioned to hate and criticize our bodies—therefore we must be purposeful about renewing our minds in order to be transformed (see Romans 12:2).
Today, take ten minutes to clear your mind and record one or two things about your body for which you are thankful. You just may be surprised by what bubbles up in your spirit as you meditate on the beauty of how your Creator knit you together.